The myth of political participation among Asian Americans
MetadataShow full item record
Although Asian Americans have the highest growth rate, their electoral participation does not commensurate with their numerical strength. This research explores the causes of Asian Americans' low level of electoral participation. I argue that acculturation presents barriers for Asian Americans to exert their political power. This project combined a survey-based experiment on and in-depth interviews with Asian Americans in Austin, in addition to existing data (CPS and the PNAAPS). I first estimate the effects of socioeconomic status on turnout across racial and ethnic groups. The results demonstrate that while education and income have limited effects on Asian American turnout at the aggregate level, their positive influence on turnout still holds for Asian Americans at the individual level, though the effect varies by nativity. Furthermore, education and income effects on turnout are greatest among Whites. The differences of these effects between Whites and Asians are especially prominent among the higher socioeconomic stratum. I next find that acculturation experiences, group connectedness, and hybrid identity elevate levels of turnout among Asian Americans. Those who are more residentially stable and sense shared Asian culture are more likely to vote, while the Asian-born are less likely to vote. In addition, experiences of racial/ethnic discrimination are likely to turn Asians away from their American-ness, while shared cultural commonality helps to foster the "Asian American" identity. Last, the experiment results suggest that a lack of ethnic cues for Asian Americans may have contributed to their low turnout rates: Asian American voters value descriptive representation, and ethnic cues effectively operate among them, especially the less politically engaged. While voters' support for a coethnic candidate is evident in the study, the evidence of their cross- or pan-ethnic support is limited. The project provides a window into the political incorporation of immigrant populations. The study speaks to the literature on political participation, racial/ethnic politics and identity politics. In addition, the findings broaden our understanding of minority political behavior, and the process by which immigrant populations incorporate into American political system, a promise of democratic representation.