Civic and Political Lifetime of California’s Asian People

Civic and Political Lifetime of California’s Asian People


One of the vital putting statistics to emerge from latest electoral marketing campaign cycles in the USA is the marked enhance within the voter turnout of Asian People. Following the 2018 midterm elections, the U.S. Present Inhabitants Survey estimated that the voting price amongst grownup residents belonging to the Asian American neighborhood rose from 28 p.c in 2014 to 42 p.c simply 4 years later. Analyses of this information by AAPI Information discovered that this turnout surge was broad-based with sizeable development evident throughout demographic classes corresponding to age, gender, and place of origin. 

This spectacular development continued within the presidential election yr of 2020. U.S. Census Bureau information discovered that the turnout of Asian American voters reached almost 60 p.c through the 2020 presidential election, marginally decrease than the turnout price of African People however larger than that of Latinos. In line with political information agency TargetSmart, Asian American voters elevated their turnout on the polls in each 2020 battleground state, greater than some other minority group. In reality, the rise in Asian American voter turnout surpassed the slim vote margin that flipped Georgia and Arizona from Republican to Democrat.

These putting figures herald the rise of a pivotal new voting demographic, a improvement that has been met with appreciable consideration by the media, politicians, and America’s two main political events. However these headline numbers, whereas necessary, don’t shed a lot gentle on the broader patterns of civic and political habits within the Asian American neighborhood. Whereas Asian-origin People would possibly vote in better numbers than earlier than, to what extent do they take part in necessary political actions apart from voting? And past the political realm, how do Asian People have interaction in civic life in their very own communities?

This text makes an attempt to reply these and different pertinent questions on Asian People’ civic and political engagement. It’s the fourth in a collection of articles that discover the political and social preferences of Asian People in California, a state the place at the moment Asian People and Pacific Islanders make up almost 16 p.c of the state’s inhabitants.

Milan Vaishnav

Milan Vaishnav is a senior fellow and director of the South Asia Program and the host of the Grand Tamasha podcast at Carnegie, the place he focuses on India’s political financial system, governance, state capability, distributive politics, and electoral habits.

Extra >

Just like the others within the collection, this text attracts on a 2022 on-line survey of 1,000 California-based Asian People performed by the Carnegie Endowment for Worldwide Peace in partnership with the info and analytics agency YouGov. The pattern consists of respondents from twenty-one Asian-origin teams however excludes Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Particularly, this text examines patterns of civic and political engagement amongst California’s Asian People. It focuses on how respondents have interaction with their communities, how they relate to politics, and the way they work together with political campaigns—each as marketing campaign contributors and shoppers.

The primary article on this collection explored the political preferences of the neighborhood within the run-up to the 2022 midterm elections, whereas the second checked out their coverage preferences, and the third unpacked the character of Asian American identification. The fifth and remaining article on this collection will discover the neighborhood’s overseas coverage attitudes.

Survey Design

The information analyzed listed here are primarily based on an authentic on-line survey of 1,000 California-based Asian American residents. The survey was designed by students on the Carnegie Endowment for Worldwide Peace and performed by polling agency YouGov between September 9 and September 26, 2022.

YouGov recruited respondents from its proprietary panel of almost 2 million U.S. residents. Solely grownup respondents (ages eighteen and above) who’re full-time residents of California and who belong to considered one of twenty-one Asian-origin teams have been eligible to take part within the survey.1 These twenty-one ethnic subgroups account for 97.4 p.c of the Asian American and Pacific Islander inhabitants in California, based on 2020 U.S. Census information.2 The YouGov survey didn’t embody respondents who principally determine as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander. The survey was fielded in English (see the subsequent part for extra dialogue).

YouGov employs a classy sample-matching process to make sure to the best extent potential that the respondent pool is consultant of the Asian American neighborhood in California; the process makes use of information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2019 American Group Survey as a goal pattern body. All of the analyses on this examine make use of sampling weights to make sure representativeness. The general margin of error for the pattern is +/- 3 p.c. This margin of error is calculated on the 95 p.c confidence interval.

Nitya Labh

Nitya Labh is a James C. Gaither Junior Fellow within the Carnegie South Asia Program.

The survey instrument accommodates an intensive vary of questions organized throughout six modules: fundamental demographics, identification and discrimination, politics, coverage preferences, overseas coverage, and civic and political life. Respondents have been allowed to skip questions aside from necessary demographic questions that decided the character of different survey objects.

Strengths and Limitations

As associated analysis has proven, surveys of Asian People should cope with a number of thorny methodological challenges. Whereas their numbers have elevated, Asian People are nonetheless a definite minority—even in California—making it troublesome to recruit sufficiently giant samples for surveys.

One main good thing about working with an intensive survey panel, such because the one maintained by YouGov, is that it supplies entry to giant pattern sizes that permit researchers to make dependable estimates about even comparatively small populations of curiosity. Nonetheless, on-line panels have a big downside: most on-line survey panels are performed in English, and round seven in ten eligible Asian-origin voters report that they solely communicate English at residence or communicate the language “very effectively.”

Due to this fact, the survey outcomes introduced on this article can not mechanically be extrapolated to the Asian American neighborhood in California at giant. For example, this survey’s pattern features a bigger share of U.S. residents than California’s Asian American inhabitants as a complete. It’s best to deal with the survey findings as consultant of the views of English-proficient Californians of Asian origin.

Regardless of this caveat, this survey serves as an necessary barometer provided that, within the years to come back, the traits of the Asian American inhabitants will more and more resemble these of the pattern studied right here.

Civic Engagement

The survey requested respondents whether or not—within the final twelve months—they participated in any of 4 frequent strategies of civic engagement: performing voluntary neighborhood service with out pay; working with others of their neighborhood to unravel an issue; attending a protest march, demonstration, or rally; or attending a public assembly, corresponding to for a college board or metropolis council.

General, the extent of civic participation appeared muted. Of the 4 strategies of civic engagement the survey examined, the preferred was performing voluntary neighborhood service—an exercise solely 11 p.c of respondents reported participating in. 9 p.c reported working with others of their neighborhood to unravel a collective drawback, 6 p.c attended a public assembly of some type, and 6 p.c attended a protest march, demonstration, or rally.

Civic and Political Lifetime of California’s Asian People

On three of out of 4 measures—performing neighborhood service, working with neighborhood members to unravel an issue, and attending a public assembly—U.S.-born respondents reported marginally larger charges of participation (see determine 1). Relating to the fourth class—attending a protest march, demonstration, or rally—participation charges have been roughly equal between the 2 classes of respondents.

Diaspora Engagement

As the dimensions of the Asian American inhabitants has grown over time, diaspora teams have invested important sources in constructing civic organizations or nonprofit associations that play quite a lot of roles, together with neighborhood service, non secular expression, and coverage and advocacy. Past generic measures of civic engagement, the survey requested respondents in the event that they have been a member of any Asian American group or group, be it cultural, ethnic, regional, non secular, caste, neighborhood, or college associated. One in 5 respondents (21 p.c) reported that they have been at the moment concerned with such a company.

U.S.-born respondents have been extra doubtless to participate in diaspora actions; 26 p.c of them reported engagement with diaspora organizations in comparison with 16 p.c of foreign-born respondents. There was additionally variation on this rating throughout Asian American communities (see determine 2). Thirty p.c of respondents of Southeast Asian heritage reported membership in a diaspora group, in comparison with 22 p.c of South Asians and 16 p.c of East Asians.

No matter their goal, diaspora organizations might be organized narrowly alongside ethnic strains or broadly throughout ethnic communities that comprise the Asian American inhabitants.

Analyzing information on respondents who have been members of a minimum of one diaspora-based group, round 4 in ten reported that these organizations have been comprised of members who shared their ethnic background (see determine 3). Nonetheless, there was no important variation throughout ethnic subgroups. Between 41 and 44 p.c of Southeast, South, and East Asians reported participating in organizations with co-ethnics, whereas between 44 and 54 p.c of respondents reported that their organizations possessed a membership of combined ethnicities. 

Political Engagement

A person’s propensity to vote is usually used as a handy shorthand for his or her degree of political engagement, however the former is at greatest a proxy measure. Political engagement is a broader idea that includes actions that embody voting however go effectively past it. This part explores the extent of political engagement earlier than delving into the act of voting extra particularly.

Common Political Engagement

The survey queried respondents about whether or not they participated in any of 5 political actions within the final yr: discussing politics with family and friends; posting feedback on-line about politics; contacting their elected consultant or one other authorities official; contributing cash to a candidate, occasion, or marketing campaign group; or volunteering or engaged on a political marketing campaign.

By far the preferred mode of political engagement was the easy act of discussing politics with household and buddies, an exercise 36 p.c of respondents reported doing up to now yr. Fourteen p.c reported posting feedback on political points on-line, 10 p.c contributed cash in some type to a political exercise, and 9 p.c contacted their member of Congress or different authorities official. The least in style exercise was engaged on a political marketing campaign, one thing solely 4 p.c of respondents reported doing up to now yr.

As with the measures of civic engagement mentioned above, U.S.-born respondents have been extra prone to have interaction in political actions, though the distinction with their foreign-born counterparts was marginal (see determine 4). Certainly, it was putting how comparable participation charges have been no matter place of origin.

Curiosity in Politics

The survey additionally requested about respondents’ normal degree of curiosity in politics, which is a abstract measure of political engagement. Particularly, the survey requested respondents the diploma to which they adopted developments in authorities and public affairs in the USA.

There was a large distribution of responses (see determine 5). Twenty-two p.c of respondents reported following the newest developments in U.S. politics more often than not, whereas a plurality of respondents—37 p.c—reported monitoring present occasions a few of the time. Twenty-three p.c reported staying abreast of political points solely from time to time and one other 11 p.c reported that they infrequently paid consideration to authorities and public affairs in the USA. An extra 8 p.c responded with “don’t know.”

Whereas there was no important distinction within the political curiosity of respondents primarily based on their place of origin, there was some proof of variations on the age dimension. Curiosity in American politics and public affairs was highest among the many eldest respondents within the pattern: 61 p.c of these ages fifty and above reported usually following developments in American politics in comparison with 52 p.c of respondents within the eighteen-to-twenty-nine age bracket. School-educated respondents additionally reported larger ranges of political curiosity when in comparison with non–school educated counterparts.


The survey requested all respondents a set of fundamental questions on their voting habits. Whereas earlier essays on this collection explored California-based Asian People’ voting patterns and coverage preferences and attitudes, this part focuses narrowly on registration and turnout. Based mostly on the U.S. citizen sub-sample of survey respondents (who accounted for 93 p.c of the general pattern), 88 p.c of citizen respondents have been registered to vote. One in ten who have been eligible to vote weren’t registered, with a further 2 p.c not sure of their registration standing.

Amongst unregistered voters, there have been few variations by gender, place of origin, or age. Nonetheless, there have been discernible variations primarily based on training and revenue ranges (see desk 1). For example, simply 5 p.c of college-educated citizen respondents reported that they weren’t registered to vote. This share greater than triples (to 17 p.c) when contemplating respondents with out a school diploma. Equally, 6 p.c of respondents whose family revenue is within the vary of $50,000–$100,000 and 4 p.c of respondents who earn over $100,000 weren’t registered to vote. This share stood at 16 p.c for these with family incomes beneath $50,000.

Whereas voter turnout tends to be decrease in main elections than on Election Day, two-thirds of respondents (67 p.c) reported voting within the June 7, 2022, California main election. When it comes to the midterm election itself, held on November 8, the survey was solely in a position to ask about vote intention because it was fielded within the September earlier than the election. Of eligible voting-age citizen respondents, between 12 and 13 precent reported that they didn’t intend to vote within the midterm election both for governor, Senate, or their respective Home of Representatives race. Right here too, class loomed giant within the resolution to vote; respondents with out a school diploma and/or who’re from lower-income households tended to be two to 3 instances extra prone to abstain from voting on Election Day.

Though the 2024 presidential elections are nonetheless far off, 8 p.c of respondents reported that that they had no intention of voting within the 2024 race. This determine excluded voters who have been undecided concerning the occasion they deliberate to help within the subsequent election; about 21 p.c of the citizen sub-sample fell into this “undecided” class.

Marketing campaign Finance

Though there isn’t a complete information on the extent of Asian American marketing campaign giving, anecdotal proof means that Asian-origin residents are stepping up their involvement as contributors to political campaigns, a brand new improvement that events have taken cognizance of. In lots of states and localities, in California and elsewhere, Asian People are seen not merely as a vital voting bloc, but in addition as a neighborhood of contributors and vote mobilizers. This part appears to be like briefly at their marketing campaign finance habits.

Of the entire respondent pattern, round 15 p.c reported contributing financially to a candidate’s marketing campaign at some degree through the course of the 2022 election cycle. By and enormous, these donations skewed towards the smaller finish of the spectrum (see determine 6). Eighty-two p.c of marketing campaign contributors reported giving $250 or much less through the 2022 midterm marketing campaign: 34 p.c reported giving lower than $50, whereas 48 p.c said that they had given between $50 and $250. Comparatively few respondents have been situated on the higher finish of this giving spectrum. Eleven p.c reported contributing between $250 and $1,000 and simply 6 p.c reported contributing greater than $1,000.

Apparently, revenue was not neatly correlated with a respondent’s political giving standing. Whereas wealthier people have been considerably extra doubtless to present than lower-income respondents, the variations have been small and nonlinear. One variable that did appear to form giving patterns was place of origin: 19 p.c of U.S.-born respondents reported donating cash within the 2022 cycle in comparison with below 8 p.c of foreign-born respondents.

Marketing campaign Contact

Present analysis demonstrates that Asian People general endure from a marketing campaign “contact hole.” Even though their numbers have grown, that their giving profile has risen, and that there’s better consciousness of their political heft, most analysis finds that political campaigns are likely to deal with them as an afterthought. For example, a 2020 Pew survey discovered that Asian voters lagged behind all different ethnic or racial teams when it comes to the extent of marketing campaign contact they obtained (throughout all strategies of contact).

The 2022 Asian American Voter Survey (AAVS), a nationally consultant survey performed months earlier than the 2022 midterm election, discovered that 45 p.c of respondents throughout the USA reported no marketing campaign contact from both main occasion.

To probe this concern within the California context, the Carnegie survey additionally requested respondents whether or not they have been contacted by any political occasion through the 2022 election marketing campaign (see determine 7). This contact may have been on the cellphone, in individual, or through social media and the web. A putting 44 p.c reported no contact in any respect from any political marketing campaign, almost half of the whole pattern.

This statistic is nearly an identical to what the AAVS discovered on a nationwide degree. Thirty-six p.c of respondents reported experiencing “some” or “a bit” contact, with solely 10 p.c acknowledging that they had obtained “an incredible deal” of contact from political events. Roughly one in ten respondents (11 p.c) reported not figuring out the extent of political contact.

To make sure, not all Asian People skilled the identical diploma of marketing campaign contact (see determine 8). For example, 33 p.c of Southeast Asian respondents reported both some or quite a lot of contact with political events through the 2022 midterm season, in comparison with 30 p.c and 24 p.c for South and East Asians, respectively. Practically one in two South Asians (49 p.c) and East Asians (48 p.c) reported no contact with campaigns as towards 35 p.c of Southeast Asian respondents.

Of respondents who have been contacted by a political marketing campaign, the survey requested which occasion was chargeable for reaching out to them (see determine 9). The overwhelming majority of contact was pushed by the Democratic Get together; 68 p.c of these contacted reported outreach from the Democrats. In distinction, half as many respondents—37 p.c—reported outreach from the Republican Get together.3

These outreach figures are usually not far out of line with the present voting patterns of Asian People in California: information analyzed in an earlier essay recommended that barely greater than half of survey respondents reported voting for Democratic candidates on the Home, Senate, and gubernatorial ranges in California. Nonetheless, the extent of marketing campaign contact reported within the Carnegie survey differed from the 2022 AAVS. Within the latter survey, 44 p.c of respondents reported having a minimum of some marketing campaign outreach from the Democrats whereas 35 p.c of respondents reported experiencing some extent of Republican outreach. The information from the Carnegie survey in California recommended a better diploma of Democratic mobilization within the state, in comparison with the nationwide common.

Past the 2 main events, a small minority (8 p.c) reported being contacted by a 3rd occasion. Twelve p.c of respondents experiencing some sort of marketing campaign contact weren’t certain which occasion obtained in contact with them.

Lastly, the survey requested respondents whether or not they have been contacted by any Asian American organizations through the midterm marketing campaign. (A number of California-based Asian American organizations work, both in reference to events or independently of them, to coach voters, conduct advocacy, or construct political consciousness.)

In line with the survey, political events had a stronger monitor document of participating Asian People than diaspora organizations (see determine 10). Two-third of respondents (67 p.c) reported that that they had no contact in any respect with Asian American organizations through the 2022 marketing campaign cycle. Eighteen p.c reported both “some” or “a bit” contact and solely 3 p.c reported quite a lot of contact. An extra 12 p.c have been not sure of their contact with diaspora teams within the 2022 marketing campaign.


In recent times, the profile of Asian People in state and nationwide politics has steadily risen as their numbers have swelled and a better share have exercised their proper to vote. Nonetheless, voting is however one type of how unusual residents have interaction in civic and political life. This essay appears to be like on the broader image of civic and political engagement amongst Asian People within the state of California, the place they represent a big share of the inhabitants.

Utilizing conventional measures of civic and political engagement, survey respondents’ participation appeared comparatively muted throughout most actions. Performing neighborhood service emerged as the preferred mode of civic engagement whereas discussing politics with household and buddies was the preferred manifestation of political participation. Throughout most measures, U.S.-born respondents tended to be extra engaged than their foreign-born counterparts however the gaps have been small in almost all circumstances.

With regards to voting, Asian People appeared energized however not all segments of the inhabitants have been equally inclined to train their franchise. Two variables—training and revenue—helped to elucidate this variation. Respondents with decrease family incomes and with out a school diploma have been extra doubtless than their friends to not be registered to vote. And, even amongst those that have been registered, non-college educated and lower-income respondents have been much less prone to turnout on Election Day.

Past voting, some current analysis means that Asian People have additionally begun flexing their muscle groups as marketing campaign contributors. The survey information right here recommended that round 15 p.c of the respondent pattern reported making a political donation within the 2022 election cycle, and most of those donations represented small-dollar contributions.

However regardless of their rising prominence, Asian People nonetheless skilled low ranges of marketing campaign outreach from the most important events, particularly the Republican Get together. And the info recommended that the attain of diaspora-linked organizations was additionally comparatively shallow among the many populations they work to advocate on behalf of.


The authors are grateful to Alexander Marsolais, Alexis Essa, Michael Finch, and their colleagues at YouGov for his or her assist with the design and execution of the survey. Caroline Duckworth and Angela Saha have been instrumental in designing the survey questionnaire. Alie Brase, Amanda Branom, Aislinn Familetti, Lindsay Maizland, and Jocelyn Soly supplied glorious editorial, graphic design, and manufacturing help. Any errors discovered on this article are completely the authors’.


1 The included ethnic subgroups are as follows: Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese language, Filipino, Hmong, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malaysian, Mongolian, Nepali, Pakistani, Singaporean, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese.

2 This share was calculated from inhabitants numbers from the 2020 American Group Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

3 These numbers don’t add as much as 100 since respondents may report receiving contact from a number of events.

rljdf onkworks

Learn More →