Majority of Growing Asian Electorate in Maryland Back Democrats

New York, NY, April 4, 2013 (Washington Bangla Radio): Today, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) released detailed findings from its nonpartisan multilingual exit poll of 384 Asian American voters in Maryland in the November 2012 elections, the largest survey of its kind in the nation. The results indicated that Asian Americans voters backed Obama and Democratic candidates by a wide margin, and a majority supported immigration reform across party lines.

71% of Asian Americans polled in Maryland voted for President Obama, compared to 26% who voted for Romney. 66% voted for the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, Benjamin Cardin, and 22% for the Republican candidate, Daniel Bongino. Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives likewise received a vast majority of the Asian American vote, with 70% voting for Chris Van Hollen (D) compared to 22% for Ken Timmerman (R), and 72% for John Sarbanes (D) compared to 18% for Eric Knowles (R).

The major factors influencing the Asian American vote in Maryland were economy/jobs (56%), health care (33%), education (28%), and civil rights/immigrants rights (27%). The majority of Asian Americans (67%) in Maryland supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship. Furthermore, 52% of Asian Indian voters in Maryland supported same-sex marriage.

"Hot button issues including immigration reform led a large number of first-time Asian American voters in Maryland to play a key role in influencing the 2012 elections, despite the continuing barriers many face as limited English proficient voters," said Glenn Magpantay, AALDEF Democracy Program Director.

The exit poll results are part of AALDEF’s 14-state multilingual exit poll of 9,096 Asian American voters in cities with large Asian American populations. These results reveal vital information about Asian American voting patterns that is often overlooked in mainstream voter surveys.

In Maryland, AALDEF conducted the exit poll in Rockville and Silver Spring, two cities with the largest Asian American populations. The largest Asian ethnic groups in the Maryland exit poll were Chinese (26%), Asian Indian (20%), Korean (17%), Vietnamese (11%), and Filipino (8%).

View the data slideshow >

AALDEF presented the results of the 2012 Asian American Exit Poll in College Park, Maryland. Key findings include:

  • Asian Americans are a growing portion of the Maryland electorate.

In the 2012 election, more than 1 in 4 (26%) of Asian Americans surveyed in Rockville and Silver Spring were first-time voters.

  • The majority of Asian Americans in Maryland voted for President Obama and Democratic candidates.

71% of Asian Americans in Maryland voted for Obama. The highest support came from South Asian voters: 84% of Asian Indian voters cast a ballot for President Obama. The majority of Chinese (69%) and Korean (68%) Americans voted for Obama, although the majority of Vietnamese Americans (54%) voted for Romney.

Support for President Obama was consistent across all categories, including first-time (78%), foreign- (69%) and native-born (80%), limited English proficient (62%) and English proficient (74%) voters, and voters of all age groups.

Of those surveyed, 50% were enrolled in the Democratic party, while only 18% were enrolled in the Republican party. 31% indicated that they were not enrolled in any party. Of those not enrolled, 70% voted for Obama, while 25% voted for Romney.

  • A majority of Asian Americans favored comprehensive immigration reform.

67% of Asian Americans in Maryland supported immigration reform, including a path to citizenship, with the highest support from Korean (72%), Asian Indian (65%), and Chinese (55%) American voters.

A majority supported immigration across party lines. 72% of those who voted for Obama and 53% of those who voted for Romney supported immigration reform. 74% of registered Democrats, 58% of registered Republicans, and 60% of those not enrolled in any political party supported immigration reform.

  • One quarter of Asian Americans in Maryland are limited English proficient (LEP).

24% of Asian Americans in Maryland spoke English less than “very well.” Particular ethnic groups in Maryland had higher rates of limited English proficiency than the national average of 37% LEP, such as Vietnamese Americans (42% LEP) and Korean Americans (41% LEP).

  • Voting barriers persisted.

Voters were asked if they encountered any voting problems. Below are the numbers of complaints:

  • 10 voters were wrongly required to show identification.
  • 9 voters had to vote by provisional ballot.
  • 7 voters indicated that no interpreters or translations were available when needed.
  • 5 voters were required to prove their U.S. citizenship.
  • 4 indicated that their names were missing or had errors in the list of voters at poll sites.
  • 3 voters indicated that poll workers were uninformed.
  • 1 voter indicated that poll workers were rude or hostile.