Are Republicans also losing the Asian vote?

June 25, 2012

Republican struggles winning over Hispanic-American voters have been well documented this campaign season, but there is some concern about another fast-growing ethnic group – Asian Americans.

Tom Davis, a former congressman from Virginia, discussed the Republican Party’s difficulties connecting with Hispanic voters, but said it could change that. “They are a group that is certainly gettable,” the moderate Republican said.

However, Davis said his party should also seek to win over Asian voters.

“More troubling for Republicans is the fact they’re not winning Asians. Asians are culturally much more like Republicans. They tend to be entrepreneurial, they tend to be very upwardly mobile groups and they ought to be winning those groups in spades,” Davis said at the Reuters Washington Summit.

He said Republican messaging was part of its problem. “The rhetoric plays across a lot of different lines. You want to be a welcoming party,” Davis said. 

“I think sometimes we have elements who are more interested in purifying the party and that’s not the way you build coalitions. It might be a nice comfortable party, but you’ve turned the big tent into a pup tent,” he said.

The Census Bureau says there are about 17.3 million U.S. residents of Asian descent, or about 5.6 percent of the total population.  A Pew Research Center report last week said Asians have surpassed Hispanics as the United States’ largest group of new immigrants. The number of Asian immigrants grew from 19 percent of all new immigrants in 2000 to 36 percent in 2010. Incoming Hispanic immigrants fell from 59 percent in 2000 to 31 percent. Up to 11 percent of illegal immigrants in the United States are Asian while about 75 percent are Hispanic, according to the analysis.

To attract more Asian voters, Davis said Republicans should adopt strategies including moving away from messages that seem unwelcoming and fielding more Asian candidates. He agreed when asked if making Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate might be part of the solution.

“I think Bobby Jindal would be a great choice,” David said. “… I think the optics of Bobby Jindal would be very, very good.”

However, he said there were others, including Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who also would be attractive candidates, and he had no idea who Romney would select.

Picture credit: Tom Davis sits down with Reuters reporters for the Reuters Washington Summit. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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