At the DNC, it was clear that Asian-Americans were taking a far larger role in this election than in previous ones. There were more candidates running for office, targeted voter outreach programs, and entire unit of Obama’s campaign solely devoted to the AAPI vote. Taz recently wrote about the recent Asian-American Survey results released, and these results have been receiving wide coverage in a variety of contexts, often in articles highlighting Asian-American political involvement around the country, so I thought I would quickly highlight one which shows just how profound an effect a group of organized South Asians is having on this election.
The Washington Post highlighted Asian-American involvement in the tight presidential race in Virginia, specifically noting that of Indian-Americans who first were involved in the Webb election of 2006.
Perhaps the most-organized Asian voters in Virginia are the Indian Americans, a highly educated and entrepreneurial group. They tend to vote Democratic, although they have applauded the Bush administration’s warm relations and recent nuclear technology agreement with India. Some of their leaders are active in Democratic Party politics, raising substantial funds for local and state candidates. Many initially supported Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and have now switched their allegiance to Obama.
Anish Chopra, a longtime Democratic activist who is the state’s secretary of technology, said the community has evolved politically in recent years and felt empowered by Webb’s victory. He said about 80 percent of Asian Americans who voted in that race, or about 50,000 people, supported Webb, far more than Webb’s 7,200-vote margin over Allen.
At the IALI fundraiser I had attended on day 1 of the DNC, Governor Tim Kaine had specifically mentioned the various Indian-American members of his cabinet, and how they were some of the most talented and capable members of his governing group. The article goes on to mention how young members of the community are playing the most prominent part in the current ethnic mobilization:
Community leaders said many first-generation Asian Americans, who came here as refugees or economic immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s and are now reaching retirement age, have tended to be business-oriented, insular and focused on issues in their homelands. Second-generation professionals and their college-age children tend to be more liberal, engaged in domestic issues and eager to join forces with people from other backgrounds.
Virginia is a crucial swing state, and as was echoed at the DNC, Asian-Americans now have the numbers and clout to swing states across the nation. Ashwin Madia’s race to Congress is looking stronger everyday, although he can still use your help, and in the end, it will be our participation and voting in the next few months which will determine whether South Asian mobilization will be a lasting trend or a disappointing case of chasing after shadows. I know that our younger generation is fired up and ready to go; at our campus here, almost many South Asian students know of and are excited about the Madia Campaign, let alone the enthusiasm over the presidential race. Now every South Asian immigrant in this country has to show they are up to the task and go (and tell all your friends, relatives, community-members, etc.,) to VOTE!