Inflation, economy, jobs top most concerns of Asian American voters: Carnegie survey


What do Asian American voters want? To know the priorities of voters and what their expectations are from the elected representatives on the eve of the 2022 midterm elections, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in partnership with the data and analytics firm YouGov conducted an online survey of 1,000 California-based Asian Americans.

The survey was designed by scholars at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and conducted by polling firm YouGov between September 9 and September 26, 2022. The sample includes respondents from twenty-one Asian ethnic origin groups but excludes Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders. Due to its narrow political focus, the analyses reported draw on a subsample of 927 respondents who are US citizens.

“On a range of hot-button policy issues being debated across California and, indeed, across the country, English-proficient Asian Americans in the Golden State maintain progressive stances on most—but not all—policy matters,” said Milan Vaishnav, director and senior fellow at South Asia Program and the host of the Grand Tamasha podcast at Carnegie, where he focuses on India’s political economy, governance, state capacity, distributive politics, and electoral behavior.

Vaishnav along with Nitya Labh, a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow in the South Asia Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote an analytical article on the Carnegie survey. The article has been published on the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website.

“Regarding guns and immigration, respondents were in favor of greater gun control and greater flexibility for state and local accommodation of undocumented immigrants. Interestingly, respondents did not uniformly believe that immigrating to the United States should be easier for people from Asian countries; more respondents reported that immigrating should be easier for people originating from Mexico and the United Kingdom than from selected countries in Asia,” Vaishnav and Labh have said in their article.

The survey has revealed that inflation, economy, and jobs are among the topmost concerns of 17 percent of the electorate who will vote in November.

Eleven percent of respondents reported healthcare as their most important issue, followed by 9 percent each identifying environment, climate change, crime, public safety, abortion, and 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 US foreign policy toward Asia.

Highlighting the preferences of voters toward immigration, the Carnegie survey revealed that 55 percent of Asian American respondents agreed to allow state and local governments in California to maintain the ability to make their own policies to protect the legal rights of undocumented migrants, independent of federal government action. A clear majority, 55 percent, of Asian American respondents, agreed with the proposition. Twenty-five percent disagreed, and another 19 percent did not have an opinion.

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. No less than 60 percent of respondents reported that it should be easy for individuals from the United Kingdom to immigrate to the United States. This is 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).

“The one issue on which the Asian American population in California diverges from their traditionally liberal leanings is that of public safety. Asked whether they supported increased resources for law enforcement, Asian American respondents did not appear to be aligned with the idea of “defunding the police” which is popular among several progressive Democrats. On the contrary, they appeared supportive of providing law enforcement with greater funding to curb crime. The issue of law and order, though an outlier, could emerge as an issue that could drive more Asian Americans toward the Republican Party in the coming elections,” said Vaishnav and Labh.

For gun regulation, California requires individuals who wish to purchase a handgun to obtain a Firearm Safety Certificate. The Carnegie survey probed whether respondents agree or disagree with a license or permit requirement for ongoing possession of a firearm, as opposed to only new purchases. When the Carnegie survey polled Asian Americans, an overwhelming majority of 83 percent of respondents said that they agreed with the need for stricter requirements.

On police funding, the verdict was quite emphatic. Given the spike in US crime rates and, more specifically, the rise in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, the salience of crime, policing, and public safety issues have increased among Asian Americans, according to existing survey data.

The 2022 Asian American Voter Survey (AAVS) found that crime is likely to be influential in shaping Asian Americans’ voting choices this November. Eighty-five percent of survey respondents rated crime either “extremely important” or “very important” in determining their vote. The same survey highlighted that 73 percent of respondents nationwide were worried about experiencing a hate crime, harassment, or discrimination at least some of the time.

The Carnegie survey asked respondents whether they agree or disagree with California devoting greater financial resources to support police and law enforcement efforts to reduce crime. A strong majority—70 percent—of respondents agreed, reflecting an overarching concern with public safety. Just 18 percent of respondents disagreed, and 12 percent did not express an opinion.


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