In 2016, only 49% of eligible Asian Americans went to the polls, while almost 80% chose Hillary Clinton.
This time around, it looks like AAPI voters are excited, as around 2.5 million AAPI voters have already voted by mail or advance poll.
“I think historically, Asian Americans don’t really like getting involved in politics, maybe because of the way the governments of their home countries are,” said Cecilia Zhou, volunteer in Philadelphia, Pa at CTV News. “I think it’s changing a lot now. ”
Asian American voters represent 11 million voters across the country and are considered the fastest growing sector of the American electorate.
The Republican and Democratic campaigns have taken a radically different approach to this segment of the vote.
On the one hand, Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris is the first South Asian and African American woman to feature on a major holiday ticket.
Additionally, Democrats have made a concerted effort to target the AAPI with campaign materials translated into 20 Asian languages.
On Monday, the party launched a campaign video targeting AAPI voters to get them to the polls, featuring several celebrities, including Mindy Kaling and Margaret Cho.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has targeted China for COVID-19, calling the virus a “Chinese virus”, “Wuhan flu” and “Kung flu” in the past.
For some AAPI voters, this rhetoric has had real consequences. More than 2,500 “incidents of discrimination” against the AAPI community, according to an August report from “Stop AAPI Hate,” a coalition to fight anti-Asian discrimination.
“I still felt, I don’t know, in danger when I came out,” Zhou said. “I had never felt this before. ”
The Asian American Republicans’ National Committee last week urged voters to “follow your conscience” and vote for Biden.
“We don’t need a smart pants president who knows everything, including the best cure for COVID-19, which only allows his base to run into political opposition,” wrote the Asian GOP in a statement. “We need an empathetic, honest and broad president who can bring all parties around the table to find common ground and work together to overcome the serious challenges ahead.
Yet social issues stemming from the pandemic aren’t the only issues AAPI voters consider when they vote.
“Voters want health care for everyone, regardless of immigration status,” said Mohan Seshadri, political director of the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance. “We want clean air and clean water. We want good schools and good paying jobs with a living wage. ”
With files from CTV News reporter Abby Kuhathasan