APAICS | Asian American Electorate to Double by 2040
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Asian American Electorate to Double by 2040

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2015 07 May Asian American Electorate to Double by 2040


Elena Ong

Asian American Electorate to Double by 2040

Washington, DC – May 7, 2015 – The half-century journey of the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1965 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 continues to transform and be a beacon of hope for America’s social and political fabric.  As we commemorate these Acts, and celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, it is a time to reflect on the remarkable accomplishments and contributions made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), and envision the challenges and opportunities of the next 25 years.

A new study released today by the UCLA Center for the Study of Inequality and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) shows that while the Asian American population will grow by 74% between 2015 and 2040, the Asian American electorate will more than double, and grow by 107%.

According to Paul Ong, Director of the UCLA Center on the Study of Inequality, “Our report finds that in 2015, there are 20.5 million Asian Americans, and a quarter of a century from now, 35.7 million.  In 2040, nearly 1 in 10 Americans will be Asian American.   During the same period, the number of Asian American registered voters will increase from 5.9 million to 12.2 million.”

According to Elena Ong, the report’s co-author, “The Asian American electorate will emerge from 4% today, to 7%, six presidential cycles from now.  The Asian American vote is not a monolith.  It’s important to look at the underlying demographic characteristics — Asian American registered voters by age, and by where they were born.  Today, 62% of the Asian American electorate are naturalized citizens, but over the next quarter of century, there will be a multigenerational transformation.  By 2040, 47% will be younger and U.S. born, and 53% will be older and foreign-born.”

This report, which is the first of a series of publications on the future of AAPIs, presents projections of the Asian American population to 2040, with a focus on the electorate.  This project is designed to provide detailed projections that serve as a basis for developing a vision to guide the development of legislation, policies and programs that would address the concerns and priorities of this rapidly growing population.  This report is the first in a series of publications that explore the key demographic dimensions that can shape the future of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  A copy of the full report will be available on May 7 at:http://luskin.ucla.edu/content/center-study-inequality andhttp://apaics.org/resources/publications/.

Click here to download The Future of Asian America in 2040 infographic.
Click here to download a copy of the full report.
Click here to download a copy of detailed commentaries on the report.


 The Immigration Act and Voting Rights Act created what Ong, De La Cruz-Viesca and Nakanishi call the “Next Sleeping Giant” in American politics, and the question remains, will the “Next Sleeping Giant” awaken and change the course, and discourse of America, when the Asian American electorate doubles by the year 2040?

 “The study released today shows that Asian Americans will have a growing presence and stronger voice in our national debates for years to come. As the first Asian American woman elected to the U.S. Senate, I look forward to continuing to work with organizations like APAICS to grow the pipeline of Asian American leaders who will amplify the voice of our community and continue the fight to overcome the challenges we face.” – U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (HI)

  “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not only the fastest growing racial group in the United States, but are also one of the fastest growing voting populations in our nation. The Future of Asian America in 2040 report confirms this and provides key findings on the increasingly influential AAPI electorate, which is expected to double by 2040.  As AAPIs become more engaged in the political process, it is important now more than ever that our government both represents and responds to the needs of our diverse communities.” – U.S. Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), Chairwoman, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus

 “Not only are Asian Americans the fastest growing racial group in America, they are now one of the fastest growing electorates in America. Between 2015 and 2040, the number of Asian American registered voters will double, and shift, from an older, more foreign-born naturalized voter base, to a younger, U.S. born voter base. Understanding this dynamic and viable political force will prove to be advantageous for candidates and campaigns in the 2016 elections and beyond. Asian Americans are a very fluid voting base and every election is a new opportunity to court the Asian American vote. Cultivating Asian American voters and gaining their loyalty is pivotal to a political party’s future. Securing the Asian American vote in areas with large concentration, and in swing vote states, will be a political game changer. Political parties should also cultivate candidates who can appeal to, be responsive to, and turn out the Asian American vote.”– S. Floyd Mori, CEO and President, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies

 “These population projections are informative and should be used as a guide when we talk about allocating resources to support and maximize our community’s civic participation.” -Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

 “What I am most interested in is whether Asian Americans will play the role of wedge or glue, among various racial groups.  In our liminal position as the so-called model minority, will we function as honorary Whites or people of color? . . . That’s the choice ahead.” – Jerry Kang, Professor of Law, Professor of Asian American Studies, and the inaugural Vice Chancellor (designate) for Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at UCLA

 “These trends have notable implications for Asian American political empowerment. . . . [and] significant meaning for the very nature of American politics. . . . It has been only recently that researchers have included Asian Americans in the coalition paradigm. . . . The possibility of [inter-ethnic] coalition politics is highly dependent on the issues at play, the composition of the Asian American population in question, and, ultimately, the articulation of an Asian American political agenda.” – Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., Dean, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs

“We are at the crossroads of a demographic transition – the Asian American electorate will double just as we are turning the corner to a nation that is majority minority.   We can choose a path of justice, or a strategy of ‘just us.’ . . . instead we can link across these divides, we can expand all our horizons.” – Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and currently directs the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity at USC and co-directs the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration

 “In areas where Asian Americans are concentrated or growing, Asians can shape the outcome of close elections, where a small margin of victory is needed, especially in non-presidential election periods, where voter turnout is typically lower amongst the general electorate.”  – Linda Trinh Vo, Associate Professor and former Chair of the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine and President of the Association for Asian American Studies

 “Three scenarios could challenge or disrupt an optimistic view of the political future for Asian America during the 25 years leading up to 2040. . . . class [differences] . . . partisan skirmishes and controversies . . . and America’s color line.  – Don Nakanishi, Professor Emeritus and Director Emeritus of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center

 “To make growth in population and registration count decisively however, community-based and advocacy organizations should devote resources to the places where the Asian American vote is not only growing, but also mostly likely to be influential (fastest growing population and small margins of victory for the candidates, in places like Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia).” – Janelle Wong, Director of the Asian American Studies Program, University of Maryland College Park

 “These projections are telling of how Asian Americans will play a decisive role in setting the stage of future politics. . . . Ethnicity, along with nativity and many other demographic characteristics (e.g. age, gender, mixed-race, class) will have major implications on whom will represent the Asian American Electorate in 2040.” – Melany De La Cruz-Viesca, Assistant Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center & Coordinator of the Center’s Census Information Center


The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) is a national non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting Asian Pacific American participation and representation at all levels of the political process, from community service to elected office. APAICS programs focus on developing leadership, building public policy knowledge, and filling the political pipeline for Asian Pacific Americans to pursue public office at the local, state, and federal levels.