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U.S. voters are more diverse; ask for  more representation


Led by AAPI population

By Selen Ozturk | Ethnic Media Services

As the U.S. grows more diverse, so do its voters.

At a Dec. 9 Ethnic Media Services briefing, voting, public policy and political science experts discussed who these new ethnic voters are, what motivates them, and how their affiliations compare to their White counterparts.

AAPI party preference

“When it comes to candidates, voters’ party identification shapes their opinions on issues more than the other way around,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, public policy professor at UC Riverside, AAPI Data founder and California 100 co-founder.

“For example,” he continued, “no matter your opinions on taxes or environmental protection, your Republican, Democratic or Independent identity will likely shape them over time.”

Among AAPI voters, he found that Vietnamese Americans tend to identify as most strongly Republican, while Japanese and Indian Americans tend to identify as most strongly Democratic — “so it’s interesting that Indian Americans like Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley have risen to such prominence/ in Republican leadership, far from Indian American voter opinion,” Ramakrishnan said.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, professor of public policy at UC Riverside and founder of  AAPI Data as well as co-founder of California 100, discusses the influence of racial versus party identification when it comes to what motivates voters.

Nevertheless, Ramakrishnan added, the 2016 election and the subsequent four years caused a divergence in these trends, with both Indian and Chinese Americans moving toward the Republican party under President Trump.

Latino voters, youth Latinos are the country’s fastest-growing racial and ethnic group in the electorate. Against common views of new Latino voters as older adults newly naturalized, U.S.-born and -raised Latinos “are the ones truly changing America’s political landscape” with each election, said Claudia Sandoval, assistant professor of political science and international relations at Loyola Marymount University.

Twenty-two percent of Latinos eligible to vote in next year’s presidential election, for instance, will be newly eligible to vote in 2024, while a reported 38% of the Latino electorate is new to the political sphere since 2016. Compared to the median age of 50 for all eligible U.S. voters, the median age of eligible Latino voters is 39. In this electorate, she continued, gender gaps exist: while Latinos as a whole lean leftward, Latino men are more likely than Latino women to support Republican candidates — diverging respectively as much as 48% and 24% in Nevada.

As more young Latinos become eligible to vote, they will have a significant impact on America’s elections and political landscape, says Claudia Sandoval, assistant professor of Political Science and International Relations at Loyola Marymount University.

“These numbers show us the complicated nature of Latino political preferences, attitudes, and potentially identification, political identification,” Sandoval said. “While only 4% of young Latino voters now believe that the Democratic Party is hostile to the Latino community, 37% of those voters believe that the Democratic Party doesn’t necessarily care about the Latino community. While 22% believe that the Republican Party is hostile to the Latino community, a third of young Latino voters believe the Republican Party cares a great deal about Latinos.”

Party response likewise motivates the question of Black voter participation, said Jamil Scott, assistant professor of government at Georgetown University: “In 2024, I think we’re facing less of a question of whether Black voters will change their partisanship, and more of a question of how many Black voters will show up on Election Day at all.”

“There’s an ‘excitement’ issue here,” she continued: “What has Biden done? He hasn’t kept his promises to Black voters on issues like student loan forgiveness and voting rights … although he’s created record low unemployment among black Americans; new opportunities for small businesses; appointed many Black judges including Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Jackson, many of these things which are visible are not necessarily tangible.”

Conversations about promises will feature heavily in the upcoming presidential election, says Jamil Scott, Assistant Professor of Government at Georgetown University, and it will be important for Biden to be able to point to the commitments he’s kept.

Black voters “can’t hang their hat on legislation like they can on loan burdens and rising costs of goods due to inflation,” Scott continued. “People are pocketbook voters, while Black people are largely not going to change their partisanship, many may wonder whether to show for their party at all if the state of their pocketbooks is not giving them a compelling reason to, especially given challenges to voting like longer wait times in communities of color.”

For Black voters — particularly those younger and more liberal-leaning — “there’s dissatisfaction more broadly with the Democratic Party’s ‘hold-your-nose-and-vote’ offerings. The question for Black voters in 2024,” she suggested, “is not how differently they vote but whether they see it as a moment in which they need to show up for democracy, or whether they’re tired of showing up again and again, and not seeing the policy benefits that they want to see.”

Gen Z voters of color Young voters are decisive among new U.S. ethnic voters, given that 45% of the 40 million members of Gen Z eligible to vote in 2024 will be people of color — including 8.8 million Latinos, 5.7 million Black youth, 1.7 million Asian Americans and 1.8 million multiracial youth.

As a more racially and ethnically diverse generation than any other before, this voting block is nevertheless “characterized by our left-leaning political unity,” said Jessica Siles, deputy press secretary of Gen Z political advocacy nonprofit Voters of Tomorrow. “We’ve been marching in the streets for change, and our political activity owes to our shared experiences growing up — especially when it comes to gun violence and climate change.”