Asian Americans in California differ on major issues on eve of Midterms: survey

Carnegie Institute study of Asian American views on eve of Midterms released Nov. 3, 2022. Photo:

A study released Nov. 3, 2022, by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace shows differences within the Asian American voting population in California on key issues, noting that Democrats can no longer depend on the unqualified support of this group.

The study entitled, “What do Asian American voters in California want” is based on a survey of 1,000 voters and authored by Milan Vaishnav and Nitya Labh.

“Some evidence suggests that the partisan inclinations of Asian Americans have been diversifying,” note the authors, partly driven by factors like rising hate crimes against Asians as the Coronavirus pandemic set in, driving civil society organizations to draw attention to the needs of this population.

The online survey of 1,000 California-based Asian American voters, minus Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, was conducted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in partnership with the data and analytics firm YouGov.

Authors warn that because of various challenges including language proficiency, the results of this survey cannot mechanically be extrapolated to the Asian American community in California at large, but rather as representative of the views of English-proficient Californians of Asian origin. The results remain relevant, they say, because the profile of the Asian American population will increasingly resemble those of the sample studied here.

Hate Crime

The authors conclude that because of the spike in hate crimes against Asians, the survey group gave this high importance in deciding their vote.

“The 2022 Asian American Voter Survey (AAVS) found that crime is likely to be influential in shaping Asian Americans’ voting choices this November,” with 85 percent respondents rating crime as either “extremely important” or “very important” in determining their vote, making it the 3rd issue after healthcare and the economy.

A strong majority—70 percent—of respondents agreed that greater financial resources be devoted to law enforcement.

U.S. Policy Toward Asia

Interestingly, U.S. foreign policy towards Asia was sof least concern to those surveyed.

Eleven percent of respondents reported healthcare as their most important issue, followed by 9 percent each identifying environment/climate change, crime and public safety, and abortion/reproductive health. Six percent of respondents each selected gun control and economic inequality, 4 percent highlighted education, and 3 percent each identified racism/racial discrimination, national security, and immigration. Only 2 percent selected voting rights as their topmost concern, and a mere 1 percent pointed to U.S. foreign policy toward Asia.

Gun Laws

While an overwhelming percentage of Californians in general, (73 Percent) want stricter gun laws despite the state having strong gun ownership laws, a whopping 83 percent of Asian Americans indicated that they agreed with the need for stricter requirements with only 8 percent of respondents “somewhat” or “strongly” disagreed, and 9 percent were unsure of their stance.


On DACA, a clear majority, 55 percent, of respondents were for allowing state and local governments in California should have the ability to make their own policies to protect the legal rights of undocumented migrants, 25 percent disagreed, and another 19 percent did not have an opinion.

The Carnegie survey went further to examine responses to different categories of immigrants. The survey asked respondents how easy it should be for individuals to immigrate to the United States from a list of selected countries – Bangladesh, China, India, Mexico, and the United Kingdom.

Authors found the data ran counter to expectation – 60 percent of respondents reported that it should be easy for individuals from the United Kingdom to immigrate to the United States, markedly higher than the share who believed it should be easy for people to immigrate from Bangladesh (31 percent), China (36 percent), India (38 percent), or Mexico (40 percent). One qualifying aspect was that 23 to 31 percent of respondents answered “do not know” to this series of questions.


Caste identity was included by the study because it has become a subject of debate in California, authors say, with textbook content for high schools being questioned, as well as lawsuits relating to alleged caste discrimination at Cisco Systems, and this January, the California State University announcing it is adding caste as a protected category in its antidiscrimination policy.

The survey asked a blanket question on whether respondents  supported CSU’s decision. A slim majority—52 percent—of respondents supported Cal State’s move to add caste as a protected category. Eighteen percent “strongly” supported the measure, and another 34 percent “somewhat” supported the measure. Opposition was muted: just 17 percent either “somewhat” or “strongly” opposed the measure. Somewhat unsurprisingly, given that the salience of caste is primarily confined to the South Asian community, nearly one in three respondents (30 percent) did not express a view.

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action in higher education is a deeply contested issue among Asian Americans nationwide.

The Carnegie survey asked respondents whether they support or oppose the consideration of race or ethnic identity as a factor in university admissions to improve the representation of historically disadvantaged groups (such as African Americans).

The data revealed a mixed picture where 48 percent either “strongly” or “somewhat” supported affirmative action, 32 percent either “strongly” or “somewhat” opposed the proposition. Twenty percent of respondents did not express an opinion either way.

There was however, a wide variation by respondent ethnicity, with 63 percent of Indian respondents supporting the idea that race and ethnicity should be used as a factor in university admissions, but only 39 percent of Chinese respondents felt the same way. Filipino (56 percent), Vietnamese (54 percent), Japanese (47 percent), and Korean (43 percent) respondents fall between these two extremes, as do respondents from other, smaller ethnic subgroups (48 percent).



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