Thursday, December 11, 2014

Swinging for the Fence

I had been puzzling over the narrow preference for Republican candidates among Asian voters for the first time since the ‘90s, when Steve offered the most plausible explanation yet.

Ironically, in 2014 the Democrats made themselves the Black Party by anointing the late Michael Brown, the not-so-gentle giant of Ferguson, the face of the Democrats. Not surprisingly, Asian voters appear to have reacted with dismay.

Now, I don’t know if this is the reason; I haven’t personally talked to any Asians about the election.  But Asians have a long history of operating small businesses in the inner city:  East Asians in decades past, South Asians today.  They are certainly aware of the dangers of operating shops serving that clientele.  I can’t help but think that the security video showing 292-lb. Michael Brown assaulting and robbing what looks like a 140-lb. Indian or Pakistani store employee had a great deal of personal resonance.  I also would expect that Obama and Holder’s unrestrained embrace of Michael Brown would be taken as . . . off-putting at a minimum.  (Trumwill &C. knock around competing hypotheses.)

If the Republicans were to ask me for electoral advice, I would suggest that, going forward, the party might make a play for the Asian vote by resurrecting their long-dormant (and mostly abandoned) opposition to affirmative action.  Racial set-asides in college admissions for blacks and Hispanics is a complex legal and policy problem, but they generally come at the expense of Asians, and I don’t see how opposing them in pursuit of the Asian vote poses any problem for the Republican electoral coalition as it stands.

5 comments:

trumwill said...

I have to confess a part of me has wondered if the de-emphasis the GOP has put on affirmative action since the 90's played a role in Asian-American indifference. That is an issue where their views can be (and maybe are) aligned.

Dr. Φ said...

The standard narrative is that Asians went Democrat in the aftermath of the Wen Ho Lee fiasco. Notwithstanding that it was of the Clinton administration's creation, the perceived persecution of Lee provoked a sense of minoritarianism among Asians, which the Democrats were well positioned to exploit.

The advantage of the affirmative action issue is that it gives Republicans the opportunity to utter the phrase "whites and Asians" a million times in reference to affirmative action's losers. The subtext is, "you're in the boat with us, not the boat with them."

trumwill said...

Hurm. I don't buy the Win Ho Lee narrative at all. It also doesn't explain Bush's decent showing, albeit not a majority, among Asian-American voters. It really wasn't until 2008 that the bottom fell out, and that's pretty far removed from WHL.

I don't think any one thing explains it, to be sure, but that has less truck with me than any explanation I've heard (from R or D).

I do know a large number of Asian-Americans who once identified as Republican who know longer do. Not a representative sample at all, as they disproportionately track to UMC, so this is a subject that interests me.

I would love to see some good polling data on Asian-Americans and affirmative action. Right now that which exists doesn't suggest it's an issue that has a whole lot of traction with them. That runs entirely contrary to observational experience, though.

trumwill said...

Incidentally, one of the most interesting conversations I ever witnessed on the subjects was almost entirely between Asians and Asian-Americans at that large software company I used to work for.

Within earshot, couple guys (a thoroughly assimilated Turkish-American and a white guy) said something back and forth, mocking the anti-AA position. A couple Indian H1-B's asked what "Affirmative action" is and I explained it. The Indians said that it sounded good because of America's race problems.

At that point, a couple of East Asian-Americans jumped in, saying that it was all a bunch of BS. One in particular was very adamant. He described it more forcefully than I had, and in a way that reminded them of something else.

Anyway, turns out that in India they have a caste-based system that these guys were on the wrong side of it. By the end of the conversation, they were converts (though, of course, they can't vote).

(My own view on AA is relatively indifferent. I used to be softly in favor of it, but a certain Asian-American former co-blogger of mine actually got me to switch sides. Still softly, though.)

Dexter said...

"The standard narrative is that Asians went Democrat in the aftermath of the Wen Ho Lee fiasco."

I don't agree with that. I went to college in California in the 1980s, and all the Asians (both East and South) I knew, with only one exception, were Democrats - and in some cases, Communists.

The Asian Democrats I talk to these days are still staunchly pro-Affirmative Action. Even though it negatively affects them. Don't ask me why.

All the Asians I know are of the college-educated, office-worker variety. None of them operate small businesses in the inner city or deal with blacks on a daily basis. Possibly this gives them an unrealistic view of the problem in the same way that it does for white and Jewish liberals.