Straw Poll of Chinese and Korean Voters in Chinatown & Queens: How Will They Vote in November?
Currently, one of every 10 New Yorkers is Asian American. Chinese immigrants began arriving in New York City in the late 1800's; this group now represents more than 50 percent of the City's Asian American community or approximately 450,000 of the 800,000 Asian Americans residing in New York.
In keeping with Asian Americans for Equality's (AAFE) historical focus on serving the Asian American community, and to inform AAFE's civic participation drive in this critical election year, AAFE conducted a "straw poll" of 459 registered Chinese American and Korean American voters to get a better understanding of how these groups of NYC voters feel about the political process. The survey explored the level of confidence in the American electoral system and examined differences between the two groups.
Asian Americans for Equality also hoped to get a sense of how New York City's
Asian American community will vote in this year's 2004 Presidential election, as
well as political party affiliations and key voter issues.
The straw poll underscores a need for voter education and empowerment in the
Asian American community. The poll found a significant number of voters lack
confidence in the system: 23% of survey participants said they did not know if
their votes made a difference and 13% believed their vote does not make a
difference. In addition, almost a third of Chinatown participants were not
affiliated with a political party, which means that they cannot participate in
Participants said that they need to know more about the voting process, the
candidates' experience, track records and platforms in order for them to make
effective decisions regarding their vote.
The poll found differences between the two communities over whether they
believed their vote mattered (Koreans seem to have more confidence in the
electoral system) and housing issues (housing is a greater concern in
The poll also showed the Asian American community politically mirrors New York
City as a whole where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 4-1 margin. The
survey found the majority disapproves of the way George W. Bush is handling his
presidency and the majority would vote for John Kerry even though more than a
third of the respondents said they have not heard enough about him.
Another significant finding is that despite cultural differences the concerns of this
group of voters is similar to the nation at-large: The three most important issues
when voting for president were: the economy 26%, healthcare 25%, and
housing 15%. The exception is that less than 10 percent cited the war in Iraq as
the most important issue affecting their vote. By contrast, nationwide polls cite
the war in Iraq and the fight against terrorism as a major policy concern for most
It is AAFE's strong belief that in order for the Asian American community to
achieve empowerment and political influence, Primary Day and General Election
Day will need to be as much fixtures on the year's calendar as are the Autumn
Moon Festival or Lunar New Year. AAFE hopes that participation in this survey
will be for those polled, their first step toward greater participation in the
democratic process. As civic education continues to be a priority for community
leaders, and AAFE moves forward in expanding its civic participation activities, it
is our goal that the Asian American population in New York City will increasingly
participate in elections and in other positive engagement with government
processes leading to increased advocacy and accomplishment for community
needs and desires.
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