Republicans should target Asian voters

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Michael Barone

                Republican strategists should pay close attention to the column on Asian voters in the Sunday Examiner by Shawn Steel, Republican National Committeeman from California and former Republican state chairman. Steel points out that Asian voters are now a significant part of the electorate in several target states and that their votes are gettable by Republicans. He cites a survey that Asians voted 60% for Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell in 2009—one reason McDonnell carried Fairfax County where Barack Obama whipped John McCain by a 59%-41% margin. And in 2009 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie carried  Middlesex County, which has the nation’s highest Asian percentage outside California and Hawaii. This will not come as a complete surprise to faithful Examiner readers, since two weeks after the November 2009 I wrote a blogpost pointing to just these results, and noting that Christie carried the two largest and ordinarily Democratic jurisdictions in Middlesex County, Edison Township and Woodbridge Township, which have the largest percentage of Indian-origin residents of any cities or towns in the nation outside the San Francisco Bay area.

                Asian voters are of course a varied group, with different traditions and different political inclinations, which need to be addressed differently. But as a general proposition they tend to live in affluent suburbs; residents of the United States born in India have higher median household incomes than Americans born in the United States. Like Jewish voters, they tend to be a subset of affluent suburbanites. Are the Romney campaign and Republican activists targeting them? One online comment to Steel’s column suggests the answer may be yes. As commenter Ronny Norman reports, “when I went with my friends to the Asian festival in Fairfax last week, the Asian Romney outreach team was impressive. My friends told me that maintaining personal wealth has historically and culturally been a priority for asians, so he believes they will be voting with their pocket in this November. Here are some pictures they posted on the web:…” One picture shows former Congressman Tom Davis, a Republican who was elected in the 11th congressional district, which includes parts of Fairfax County with large Asian populations, from 1994 to 2006.

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Michael Barone

Senior Political Analyst
The Washington Examiner