6
Political Trends and Electoral Issues of the Asian Pacific American Population

Don T.Nakanishi

Many Asian Pacific American, or Asian and Pacific Islander,1 leaders had worked for years to ensure that the November 1996 elections would be considered a major defining moment for Asians and Pacific Islanders in American electoral politics and public-policy participation. The elections were intended to herald a highly successful, first-ever, nationwide Asian and Pacific Islander voter-registration campaign that enfranchised thousands of new Asian and Pacific Islander voters; 75,000 registered by organized grassroots organizations were added to the approximately 1.2 million registered Asian and Pacific Islander voters across the country (Ong and Nakanishi, 1996). In California alone, the more than 3 million Asians and Pacific Islanders represented 1 in 10 residents. The idea that the state’s electorate might someday reflect this demographic profile, and Asians and Pacific Islanders perhaps become an important future swing vote, no longer seemed unrealistic (Nakanishi, 1998).

The November 1996 elections also were supposed to be viewed as historically significant because of the number of Asians and Pacific Is

1  

In this paper, Asians and Pacific Islanders are defined in a manner similar to that of Asian Pacific American, so named by a fact-finding report issued by the Asian Pacific American Education Advisory Committee of the Office of the Chancellor of the California State University (1990): “Asian Pacific Americans are defined as immigrants, refugees, and the U.S.-born descendants of immigrants from Asia, including Pakistan and the countries lying east of it in South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific Islands” (p. 1).



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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I 6 Political Trends and Electoral Issues of the Asian Pacific American Population Don T.Nakanishi Many Asian Pacific American, or Asian and Pacific Islander,1 leaders had worked for years to ensure that the November 1996 elections would be considered a major defining moment for Asians and Pacific Islanders in American electoral politics and public-policy participation. The elections were intended to herald a highly successful, first-ever, nationwide Asian and Pacific Islander voter-registration campaign that enfranchised thousands of new Asian and Pacific Islander voters; 75,000 registered by organized grassroots organizations were added to the approximately 1.2 million registered Asian and Pacific Islander voters across the country (Ong and Nakanishi, 1996). In California alone, the more than 3 million Asians and Pacific Islanders represented 1 in 10 residents. The idea that the state’s electorate might someday reflect this demographic profile, and Asians and Pacific Islanders perhaps become an important future swing vote, no longer seemed unrealistic (Nakanishi, 1998). The November 1996 elections also were supposed to be viewed as historically significant because of the number of Asians and Pacific Is 1   In this paper, Asians and Pacific Islanders are defined in a manner similar to that of Asian Pacific American, so named by a fact-finding report issued by the Asian Pacific American Education Advisory Committee of the Office of the Chancellor of the California State University (1990): “Asian Pacific Americans are defined as immigrants, refugees, and the U.S.-born descendants of immigrants from Asia, including Pakistan and the countries lying east of it in South Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific Islands” (p. 1).

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I landers elected to major political offices throughout the country. Most notable was the election of Gary Locke, Governor of the state of Washington, the first Chinese American to capture a governorship, and the first Asian and Pacific Islander elected governor outside of Hawaii. In addition, the election of Martha Choe to the Seattle City Council and, in California, the election of Mike Honda to the California Assembly and Leland Yee and Michael Yaki to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors provided further credence that the November 1996 elections were groundbreaking for Asian and Pacific Islander electoral empowerment. Asian and Pacific Islander political leaders had expected recognition of a strong Asian and Pacific Islander presence, especially among Democrats, when exit polls conducted by the Los Angeles Times and the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (NAPALC) showed that Asian and Pacific Islander voters strongly favored President Bill Clinton over Bob Dole and Ross Perot. Also, there were expectations of recognition of Asian and Pacific Islander political voice in light of exit polls in California, which showed that Asian and Pacific Islander voters, despite their portrayal by conservative pundits and politicians as being just like the majority of White voters in the state in opposing affirmative action, voted against the antiaffirmative action Proposition 209 ballot initiative by a substantial margin (61 percent, according to Los Angeles Times exit polls, and more than 75 percent according to NAPALC), and at levels nearly comparable to those of other voters of color (Ha, 1996; Nakanishi and Lai, 1998). Indeed, there was anxious speculation by many Asian and Pacific Islander community leaders that the Democratic Party might now become the party of choice for Asians and Pacific Islanders, who usually registered in nearly equal percentages as Democrats, Republicans, and “no-party” independents (Nakanishi, 1998). In regard to campaign fund-raising, Asian and Pacific Islander political leaders of both political parties expected that, as had been the case in each presidential election since the 1970s, Asians and Pacific Islanders would set new fund-raising records. At one gala fund-raising event in July 1996, nearly 1,000 Asians and Pacific Islanders contributed $1,000 each to hear President Clinton speak (Nakanishi, 1975). The event raised nearly $1 million.2 Asian and Pacific Islander political leaders hoped that maybe this time around, President Clinton, in assembling a cabinet that “looks like America,” would make sure to appoint at least one Asian and 2   This was a particularly memorable, and now somewhat controversial, fund-raising event. It was organized by John Huang and attended by James Riady, Maria Hsia, Ted Sioeng, and others who since gained notoriety as result of the subsequent campaign finance controversy.

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I Pacific Islander. University of California, Berkeley, Chancellor Chang-lin Tien and former Congressman Norman Mineta were prominently mentioned as viable contenders for the positions of Secretaries of Energy and Transportation, respectively. With the decisive electoral and monetary support Clinton received from Asians and Pacific Islanders, the prospects for the nation’s first-ever Asian and Pacific Islander cabinet-level appointment seemed almost assured. That is how Asian and Pacific Islander leaders wanted their participation in the November 1996 elections to be portrayed. And for more than a year after those elections, Asians and Pacific Islanders did occupy center stage in American electoral politics; however, the attention they received from the mass media, Senate and House committees, and federal agencies did not focus on their milestones during those elections, but instead on allegations and innuendoes of improper or illegal campaign finance activities by some Asian and Pacific Islander donors and fund-raisers. Indeed, some Asian and Pacific Islander leaders felt that the unprecedented media and partisan focus on campaign violations by a few Asians and Pacific Islanders had a “chilling effect” on present and future involvement of Asians and Pacific Islanders in electoral politics (Akaka, 1998). Many were disappointed when the anticipated nominations of Tien and Mineta did not materialize, and that the President again constructed a cabinet that did not include any Asians and Pacific Islanders. A few Asian and Pacific Islander leaders felt that this “Asian-bashing” controversy was the worst thing that had happened to Asians and Pacific Islanders since the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II, when similarly unsubstantiated accusations of disloyalty were aired by many of the nation’s highest ranking officials (Lin, 1997). THE TREND OF INCREASED ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN POLITICAL REPRESENTATION Fortunately, there is considerable evidence to suggest that the political growth and maturation of Asians and Pacific Islanders did not come to an abrupt end with the controversy during the months after the November 1996 elections, nor has it stopped or prevented Asians and Pacific Islanders from running for, and winning, political office. In 1998, there were more than 2,000 Asian and Pacific Islander elected and appointed officials across the nation (Nakanishi and Lai, 1998). Since the release of the May 1996 edition of National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac (Nakanishi and Lai, 1996), there has been an approximate 10 percent increase in the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders elected to public office—in 33 states—with most having been elected after the November 1996 elections. Like Gary Locke and Mike Honda, the majority of these

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I new officials were elected in jurisdictions that did not have a majority of Asian and Pacific Islander voters and had to appeal to a diverse electorate. It is not clear whether many of them—or those who did not win elections—were handicapped by the campaign-finance scandal. What is evident is that the elected officials are part of a visible trend of increased Asian and Pacific Islander political representation. Since the mid-1990s, groups like the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council of Southern California, an umbrella organization of more than 50 Asian and Pacific Islander social services and civil rights groups in Los Angeles, have escalated their campaigns to naturalize and register recently arrived Asians and Pacific Islanders. These groups have placed voter registration at the top of their leadership agendas. At the same time, a number of individuals who previously restricted their contributions solely to electing political candidates have begun to make donations in support of voter-registration campaigns in Asian and Pacific Islander communities (Ha, 1997). Regardless of the controversy surrounding the November 1996 elections, there is little question that issues of political participation and public-policy representation have become increasingly salient and compelling for the Asian and Pacific Islander population. At the same time, there has been considerable speculation by the mainstream media about the current status and future impact of the Asian and Pacific Islander electorate on American politics (Arax, 1986; Tachibana, 1986; Stokes, 1988; Gurwitt, 1990; Karnow, 1992; Skelton, 1993; Miller, 1995; Purdum, 1997). This heightened electoral participation and political potential of Asians and Pacific Islanders is all the more remarkable in the context of the historical legacy of disenfranchisement of Asians and Pacific Islanders, evidenced by the plethora of discriminatory laws and policies ranging from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to Ozawa v. United States (1922), which forbade Asian immigrants from becoming naturalized citizens (Chuman, 1976; Ichioka, 1977; Takaki, 1989; Chan, 1991). These legal barriers prevented early Asian immigrants from becoming involved in electoral politics in any form—from the type of ward politics practiced by European immigrants in the Atlantic and Midwest states to simply voting—and substantially delayed the development of political participation and representation by Asians and Pacific Islanders in Hawaii, California, and elsewhere until the second generation after World War II—more than 100 years after their initial period of immigration. Even though the national news media have often, since the mid-1960s, touted Asians and Pacific Islanders as America’s “model minority”—a label that Asian and Pacific Islander leaders and scholars have disputed because of its simplistic implication that other minority groups can overcome racial and other discriminatory barriers by following the example of

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I Asians and Pacific Islanders—their reputed success has disguised their historic lack of access and influence in the nation’s most significant political and social decision-making arenas and institutions (Suzuki, 1977; Chun, 1980; Miller, 1992; Woo, 1994; Walker-Moffat, 1995). At the same time, Asian and Pacific Islander civil rights groups have remained vigilant in seeking the elimination of “political structural barriers” such as unfair redistricting plans and the lack of Asian-language bilingual ballots, which many leaders believe have prevented Asian and Pacific Islanders from fully exercising their voting rights (Bai, 1991; Kwoh and Hui, 1993). Asian and Pacific Islander’s participation in electoral and other forms of political activities deserves special focus because the topic has received far less scholarly and public-policy attention than other forms of individual and group-level societal involvement by Asians and Pacific Islanders. Indeed, in contrast to their purported “over-representation,” or success, in some sectors of American society such as higher education or small-business enterprises, Asians and Pacific Islanders appear to be “under-represented,” or, at least, less represented than many other ethnic and racial groups, in the political arena. This appears to be the case despite the fact that the Asian and Pacific Islander population exhibits seemingly high educational and socioeconomic attainment levels, which are usually associated with above-average political participation (Nakanishi, 1986a). Nonetheless, clearly increased political participation provides a number of special vantage points from which to understand the ramifications of the extraordinary recent demographic growth and diversification of the Asian and Pacific Islander population in the broader context of changing race relations in America, as well as increasingly important international processes and events. THE NEW ASIAN PACIFIC AMERICAN POPULATION: A DEMOGRAPHIC REVOLUTION The Asian and Pacific Islander population has undergone a series of dramatic demographic transformations since the 1960s that have greatly augmented their numbers and led to their extraordinary levels of internal heterogeneity. These trends have had, and will continue to have, a significant impact on issues dealing with their access, representation, and influence in both public and private institutions and sectors. To begin with, Asians and Pacific Islanders are the fastest growing group, their population having doubled from 1.5 million in 1970 to 3.5 million in 1980, reaching 7.2 million in 1990. Recent projections estimate that Asians and Pacific Islanders will continue to increase to 12 million by 2000 and nearly 20 million by 2020 (Fawcett and Carino, 1987; LEAP Asian Pacific American Public Policy Institute and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center,

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I 1993; Rafu Shimpo, 1995). The increase can be attributed, in large measure, to the Immigration Act of 1965, which eliminated the discriminatory quota provisions of the Immigration Act of 1924; the Indochinese Refugee Resettlement Program Act of 1975; and the Refugee Act of 1980. The latter two legislative measures permitted the migration and entry of nearly 1 million refugees from Southeast Asia (Hing, 1993; Hing and Lee, 1996). Effects of Immigration Reversing a four-decade trend begun in the 1930s, Asians and Pacific Islanders now represent one of the largest groups of legal immigrants in the United States. Between 1931 and 1960, when the provisions of the 1924 National Origins Act were in effect, 58 percent of legal U.S. immigrants were from Europe, 21 percent from North America, 15 percent from Latin America, and the smallest portion, 5 percent, from Asia. By 1980 to 1984, however, Europe represented 12 percent of the total population of legal U.S. immigrants and North America, 2 percent; conversely, Latin American countries accounted for 35 percent, and Asian countries, 48 percent of the United States total legal immigrant populations (United Way Asian Pacific Research and Development Council, 1985). Indeed, from 1981 to 1996, the top 10 sending nations were Latin American and Asian.3 From 1970 to 1980, and continuing into the 1990s, the Asian and Pacific Islander population also dramatically shifted from being largely U.S.-born to predominantly foreign-born, as a result of the surge in migration. In the 1990 Census, 65.6 percent of all Asians and Pacific Islanders were foreign-born: 79.9 percent of the Vietnamese, 72.7 percent of the Koreans, 64.4 percent of the Filipinos, 75.4 percent of the Asian Indians, and 69.3 percent of the Chinese populations were born outside the United States. Of all Asian and Pacific Islander groups, with 32.4 percent foreign-born, only the Japanese had more U.S-born in its population. In marked contrast, 8.7 percent of White, 7.2 percent of Black, and 38.5 percent of Hispanic populations were foreign-born (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1993b). In California in 1994, 64.5 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders were foreign-born, compared with 44.3 percent of Hispanics, 20.8 percent of Whites, and 3.7 percent of Blacks (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1993a). Recent population projections estimate that foreign-born Asians and Pacific Islanders will remain in the majority for several decades to 3   From 1981 to 1996, there were 13,484,275 immigrants to the United States. The top 10 sending nations were Mexico (3,304,682), Philippines (843,741), Vietnam (719,239), China (539,261), Dominican Republic (509,902), India (498,309), and Korea (453,018) (Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1998).

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I come (LEAP Asian Pacific American Public Policy Institute and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1993; Shinagawa, 1996). Since the 1960s, there have also been significant changes in the relative representation of ethnic and national groups within the Asian and Pacific Islander population. In 1970, the Japanese were the largest Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic group, representing nearly 40 percent of all Asians and Pacific Islanders. By 1980, however, both Chinese (812,178) and Filipino (781,894) surpassed the Japanese (716,331); and other Asian and Pacific Islander groups, like Asian Indians (387,223), Koreans (357,393), and Vietnamese (245,025) grew rapidly through immigration. By 1990, both Chinese (1,645,472) and Filipino (1,406,770) populations had grown to nearly twice the size of the Japanese population (847,562), which had experienced relatively little immigration from Japan and a gradually declining birth rate. The other three major Asian and Pacific Islander groups—Asian Indians (815,447), Koreans (798,849), and Vietnamese (614,547)—also recorded substantial population gains by 1990. It is projected that in 2000 the Japanese group will fall further down the population scale, with practically all other major Asian and Pacific Islander groups outnumbering them, and Filipinos will replace Chinese as the largest Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic group (LEAP Asian Pacific American Public Policy Institute and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, 1993). In 1990, California, with approximately 3 million, had the largest Asian and Pacific Islander population—40 percent of the total U.S. Asian and Pacific Islander population, outnumbering the state’s Black population, and second only to the rapidly growing Hispanic population, which continues to be California’s single largest population of color (Bouvier and Martin, 1985; California Department of Finance, 1985). In 2000, it is estimated that more than 5 million of the nation’s projected 12.1 million population of Asians and Pacific Islanders will be Californians (Rafu Shimpo, 1995). At the same time, other non-Western states and cities also experienced considerable growth in their Asian and Pacific Islander populations. In 1997, New York had the second largest Asian and Pacific Islander population (952,736), followed by Hawaii (748,748), Texas (532,972), and New Jersey (423,738) (U.S. Department of Commerce, 1999). Diversity of the Asian Pacific American Population The Asian and Pacific Islander population clearly is not a single, monolithic group (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1979; Chun, 1980; Endo et al., 1980; Gardner et al., 1985; United Way Asian Pacific Research and Development Council, 1985; Fawcett and Carino, 1987; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1992; U.S. Department of Commerce, 1993b; Tam,

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I 1995; Min, 1995; Espiritu, 1997; Lee, 1998). It is an extremely heterogeneous population, with respect to ethnic and national origins, cultural values, generation, social class, religion, multiracial background, sexual orientations, and other socially differentiating characteristics (Root, 1992; Leong, 1995; Gall and Natividad, 1995; Nash, 1997; Stanfield, 1997; Lee, 1998). The most evident fact about Asian and Pacific immigration is its diversity. Whether one looks at the political and economic status of the countries of origin, the characteristics of the immigrants themselves, or their modes of adaptation in the host society, differences are more striking than similarities. Sending countries include socialist Vietnam, capitalist South Korea, and colonial American Samoa—each having quite different economic resources and strategies for development. Significant groups of immigrants include Hmong hill farmers, Indian scientists and engineers, Chinese businessmen, and Filipino service workers—as well as Thai, Filipino, and Korean women immigrating as marriage partners (Fawcett and Arnold, 1987:453). Even within any particular Asian and Pacific Islander group, like the Chinese, within-group differences can be quite pronounced, reflecting different historical waves of immigration and different segments of a class hierarchical structure (Nee and Nee, 1974; Zhou, 1992; Fong, 1994; Horton, 1995; Kwong, 1996; see also, for Indo-Americans, Kar, 1995/96; for Koreans, Kim, 1997; Park, 1998). Hirschman and Wong (1981) use census data to illustrate significant within-group differences in socioeconomic achievement among foreign-born versus U.S.-born Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos. It is highly likely that the terms “Asian American” and “Asian Pacific American,” which have been imbued with constantly changing strategic, ideological, and tactical connotations since they were first articulated in the 1960s, will undergo further reconsideration in the future (Espiritu, 1992). Technical and Methodological Problems Facing Researchers In contrast to the study of other, larger racial and ethnic populations, a common problem facing researchers studying Asian and Pacific Islander populations is that empirical data are not routinely collected or reported for Asians and Pacific Islanders in toto or, more important, with respect to the different ethnic groups of the population. Until recently, the decennial census represented one of the few quantitative data sources providing such ethnic breakdowns for 13 different major Asian and Pacific Islander groups—Asian Indians, Chinese, Hmongs, Cambodians, Laotians, Thais, Guamanians, Hawaiians, Japanese, Koreans, Filipinos, Samoans, and Viet-

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I namese, among others. Decennial census data, however, have assorted technical and substantive limitations, especially in terms of the restricted set of individual-level characteristics surveyed, the long delay between collection and public dissemination of data, and the special sampling problems resulting in substantial undercounting, which persistently have hampered the gathering of data from Asians and Pacific Islanders and other racial and ethnic populations (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 1979; Yu, 1982). Further, it was not until 1989 that the periodic Current Population Surveys (CPS), also conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, separated Asians and Pacific Islanders from the category of “Other,” and reported data on their voter registration and voting patterns, as had been done for many years for Blacks, Whites, and Hispanics. Although data from these surveys are highly useful in interpreting patterns in national and regional trends (indeed, they will be a focus of analysis later in this paper), because of the shortcomings noted, researchers studying Asian and Pacific Islander populations must often devise tailored data-collection strategies. To investigate topics such as the extent of interracial marriages, usage rates of mental health facilities, conditions of poverty, or levels of political involvement for specific Asian and Pacific Islander groups, a sufficiently large sample of empirical data is needed prior to the application of rigorous data analysis tools (Kikumura and Kitano, 1973; Yu, 1982; Nakanishi, 1986b; Ong, 1993; Ong and Hee, 1993; National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, 1996). Yet, public records of marriage licenses and voter registrations do not contain information about the ethnicity, national origin, generation, or racial background; and there is, presently, no reliable computer-based dictionary of Asian and Pacific Islander surnames for identifying members of the different ethnic and national groups. To research interracial marriage rates or voter-registration trends among Asians and Pacific Islanders, scholars have had to assemble and train panels of bilingual and bicultural researchers to identify and locate Asian and Pacific Islander-surnamed individuals who obtained marriage licenses or registered to vote. What would seem to be a simple data-collection exercise in a municipality like Los Angeles County involves, for Asian and Pacific Islanders, analyzing tens of thousands of marriage licenses, or listings of millions of registered voters. Reliability of the overall identification processes is controlled through multiple verification of names in which two or three professionally trained, and linguistically or culturally knowledgeable readers, examine and verify the same records. Such added attention to the gathering of reliable and valid data is crucial to researching topics dealing with the diverse Asian and Pacific Islander ethnic groups and analyzing within-group differences and similarities. Both academic and public-policy inquiries of the political partici-

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I pation and behavior of Asian and Pacific Islander populations should be guided by similar data-gathering considerations, and thus avoid common pitfalls that result from not being fully informed or appreciative of the complexities of this growing sector of the nation’s population. Grant Din (1984) provides a revealing example of such a faux pas: A San Francisco Examiner analysis of the 1984 California presidential primary discussed the results of the ABC News exit polling in California and New Jersey. According to these results, in California, “Mondale carried the Asian vote with 40 percent, Hart trailed with 33 percent (and Jackson had 20 percent).” A closer examination, however, reveals that only 2 percent of the 1,125 voters surveyed, or 23, were Asian American. This translates into 9 votes for Mondale, 8 for Hart, and 5 for Jackson! The poll claimed an overall margin of error of 3 percent, but it must have been higher for such a small population (p. 21). Educational Attainment Understanding between- and within-group differences in educational attainment among Asians and Pacific Islanders has long been a subject of interest to researchers.4 For Asians and Pacific Islanders, Blacks, American Indians, Hispanics, non-Hispanic Whites, and “Others,” Table 6–1 provides 1990 Census data on levels of educational attainment for males and females, 25 years old and older, targeted for voter-registration campaigns. Asians and Pacific Islanders and Hispanics appear to be at polar extremes of the educational continuum, with Asians and Pacific Islanders having a seemingly unrivaled percentage of college graduates, and Hispanics exhibiting a disturbingly unmatched percentage of individuals with less than eight years of formal schooling. Previous studies have made similar observations (Brown et al., 1980; Duran, 1983; Davis et al., 1985; Sue and Padilla, 1986). However, Table 6–2, which differentiates the Asian and Pacific Islander category among 11 ethnic groups, illustrates the need to recognize and analyze the internal heterogeneity of this population. Several Asian and Pacific Islander groups, for example Cambodians, Hmongs, and Laotians, do not reflect high educational attainment levels, and generally have far fewer college graduates and proportionately more non-high 4   There have been a growing number of studies on Asian and Pacific Islander educational issues and institutions. At the K-12 levels, see Sue and Padilla (1986), Kiang and Lee (1993), Kao (1995), Lee (1996), Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (1997), and Zhou (1998). For higher educational issues and trends, see Hsia (1988a, 1988b), Asian and Pacific American Education Advisory Committee (1990), Escueta and O’Brien (1991), and Hune and Chan (1997). For an overview of Asian Pacific American educational topics, see Nakanishi and Yamano Nishida (1995).

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I TABLE 6–1 Education- Attainment Levels (percentage) for Males and Females, 25 Years and Older, California, 1990   Eight Years or Less of Schooling Non-High School Graduate College Graduate Asian Pacific Americans   Males 11 19 39 Females 17 26 31 Blacks   Males 7 25 15 Females 7 24 14 American Indians   Males 9 27 12 Females 9 30 10 Hispanics   Males 35 55 8 Females 35 55 6 Non-Hispanic Whites   Males 4 13 33 Females 4 15 23 Others   Males 39 60.4 6 Females 41 61 4 Total Population   Males 11 23 27 Females 11 25 20   SOURCE: 1990 Census of Population, Social and Economic Characteristics, California (1993). school graduates (and those with less than eight years of schooling) than Asians and Pacific Islanders, as a whole, and other ethnic and racial populations. At the same time, other Asian and Pacific Islander groups with stronger group-level academic profiles, like the Chinese, Koreans, Thais, and Asian Indians, also show significant percentages of individuals with limited educational backgrounds. Approximately 25 percent of the women in these four groups had not completed high school, and more than 10 percent had less than eight years of schooling. Such between- and within-group differences, as well as other quality-of-life indicators, are expected to continue among Asians and Pacific Islanders in the future

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I prepare for their naturalization examinations, expose them to the most rudimentary facts about American government, but probably have little or no impact on their preexisting political belief systems, their general sense of political efficacy and trust toward government, or their knowledge of the traditions, current policy debates, and political party agendas of American politics. Learning about and, more important, becoming actively involved in politics “American style” through registering to vote and voting in elections, probably takes place through a range of personal and group experiences that go beyond citizenship classes, and evolve over time and in conjunction with other aspects of acculturating to American life and society. The Asian and Pacific Islander electorate is clearly in the process of transformation and change. Its future characteristics and impact will be largely determined by the extent to which newly naturalized, foreign-born Asians and Pacific Islanders are incorporated into the political system, and encouraged to register to vote and to cast their ballots. An electorate that “looks like Asian and Pacific Islander America,” in all of its dimensions of diversity, especially in being predominantly foreign-born rather than reflecting its current U.S.-born majority profile, may have far different partisan preferences and public-policy priorities. The changing electorate in the City of Monterey Park in Los Angeles County, where Asians and Pacific Islanders constituted 56 percent of all residents in 1990, is illustrative of trends in political partisanism (Table 6– 6). In 1984, among Chinese voters, there was a plurality of Democrats (43 percent) over Republicans (31 percent), but also an extremely high percentage of individuals who specified no party affiliation (25 percent), and considered themselves to be independents.6 By 1997, Chinese voters (with most probably being recently naturalized), who accounted for the vast majority of new registered voters in Monterey Park since 1984, were nearly evenly divided among Democrats (34 percent), Republicans (33 percent), and no-party independents (30 percent) (Nakanishi, 1998). In contrast, the Japanese, who experienced far less population growth, reflected a different electoral profile, showing a preference for the Democratic party and a greater likelihood of declaring a party affiliation rather than registering as an independent. Moreover, the total Asian and Pacific Islander electorate in Monterey Park changed its overall partisan orientation through the addition of these new, largely Chinese, registered voters. In 1984, Asian and Pacific Islander voters as a whole in Monterey 6   Din (1984) and Chen et al. (1989) found that some groups of Asian and Pacific Islander voters register in higher percentages than expected as having no party affiliation or as independents.

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I TABLE 6–6 Asian Pacific American Registered Voters, Monterey Park, California, 1984 and 1997   Number Registered Democrats Republicans Other Parties No Party Citywide   1984 22,021 (100.0%) 13,657 (62.0%) 5,564 (25.0%) 368 (1.7%) 2,290 (10.4%) 1997 23,849 (100.0%) 12,861 (53.9%) 6,553 (27.5%) 676 (2.8%) 3,759 (15.8%) 1984–1997 net gain/loss +1,828 -796 +989 +308 +1,469 Asian Pacific Americans Total   1984 6,441 (100.0%) 3,265 (50.7%) 1,944 (30.2%) 54 (0.8%) 1,178 (18.3%) 1997 10,495 (100.0%) 4,051 (38.6%) 3,533 (33.7%) 318 (3.0%) 2,593 (24.7%) 1984–1997 net gain/loss +4,054 +786 +1,589 +264 +1,415 Non-Asian Pacific Americans Total   1984 15,438 (100.0%) 10,392 (67.3%) 3,620 (23.4%) 314 (2.0%) 1,112 (7.2%) 1997 13,354 (100.0%) 8,810 (65.9%) 3,020 (22.6%) 358 (2.7%) 1,166 (8.7%) 1984–1997 net gain/loss -2,084 -1,582 -600 +44 -146 Chinese Americans   1984 3,152 (100.0%) 1,360 (43.1%) 972 (30.8%) 23 (0.7%) 797 (25.3%) 1997 5,935 (100.0%) 2,028 (34.0%) 1,983 (33.4%) 164 (2.7%) 1,760 (29.7%) 1984–1997 net gain/loss +2,783 +668 +1,011 +144 +963 Japanese Americans   1984 2,586 (100.0%) 1,429 (55.3%) 838 (32.4%) 21 (0.8%) 298 (11.5%) 1997 2,647 (100.0%) 1,329 (50.2%) 891 (33.7%) 44 (1.6%) 383 (14.5%) 1984–1997 net gain/loss +61 -100 +53 +23 +85 Note: In 1997, Asian Pacific Americans were 44 percent of all voters in Monterey Park; 32 percent of all Democrats; 54 percent of all Republicans; and 69 percent of all individuals who registered as No Party. In 1990, 56 percent of the residents of Monterey Park were Asian Pacific American. SOURCE: Nakanishi (1986b).

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I Park showed a slight majority preference for the Democrats. By 1997, with an increase of more than 4,000 new registered voters, it was no longer possible to characterize the Asian and Pacific Islander electorate in the city in this manner. In an analogous fashion, on a larger national scale, the Asian and Pacific Islander electorate at both the grassroots and leadership levels have been undergoing, and will continue to undergo, significant changes with the increased political participation of foreign-born Asians and Pacific Islanders. CONCLUSION Although there has been a visible increase in political involvement and representation by Asians and Pacific Islanders during the past decade, it would be highly remiss to conclude that they have now become a powerful and unified political entity. It would also be incorrect to conclude that they are now capable of competing equally with other political actors, be they other immigrant and minority groups or special interests, in realizing their specific political goals. Compared with other, more established political actors, like Jews and Blacks, Asians and Pacific Islanders still have not fully developed and used the wide array of real and symbolic resources that are needed to compete on an equal basis in major electoral and policy arenas with other groups. Their various levels of internal diversity have often prevented them from being the unified political actor suggested by their overarching umbrella label of Asian and Pacific Islanders. In some of the smaller California suburban cities like Torrance, Cerritos, and Monterey Park, and to a lesser extent in the big cities like San Francisco, Seattle, and Los Angeles, Asians and Pacific Islanders have become increasingly viable and recognized political participants. In most areas aside from Hawaii and at higher levels of state and federal decision-making, however, Asians and Pacific Islanders remain largely ignored and underrepresented. Indeed, as a result of both structural and group-specific constraints, they have not been able to sufficiently cultivate a statewide or national political presence. Also, they have yet to develop an explicit set of national priorities that could, at least, be recognized when major policy issues dealing with the poor, the elderly, health care, or even United States relations with Asia are legislated and implemented. At best, their present impact on American politics and public-policy deliberations has been regional and sporadic rather than national and continuous; and their reputed success as a model minority continues to disguise their lack of influence and representation in many of the most significant decision-making arenas and social institutions of American society. The political incorporation of both U.S.-born and naturalized Asians

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I and Pacific Islanders into the American electoral system needs to be accelerated. The contemporary remnants of the political exclusion and isolation that Asians and Pacific Islanders experienced in the past must be fully confronted and eliminated not only by Asian and Pacific Islander groups, but also by the two major political parties and others who believe that citizens should be able to fully exercise their right of franchise. Unfair redistricting of Asian and Pacific Islander communities, lack of bilingual voter-registration application forms and ballots, restrictions on campaign contributions from permanent residents, and opposition to the implementation of legislation like the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (a.k.a. Motor Voter Act) perpetuate “political structural barriers” that must be challenged and replaced by fair and inclusive political practices and policies. Asians and Pacific Islanders, both foreign-born and U.S.-born, have much to contribute to all aspects of American political life—as voters, campaign workers, financial donors, policy experts, and elected officials—and must be allowed, and encouraged, to participate fully. In recent years, the incentive and necessity for Asians and Pacific Islanders to become more involved in electoral politics has been greatly enhanced in both obvious and unexpected ways. Politicians and the major political parties, which had long neglected to address the unique public-policy interests and quality-of-life concerns of Asians and Pacific Islanders, have become increasingly responsive and attentive, especially to the growing sector of the Asian and Pacific Islander population that contributes sizable amounts to political campaign coffers. Less interest, however, has been shown toward augmenting the long-term voting potential of Asians and Pacific Islanders, and few attempts have been made by the Democratic or Republican parties to finance voter-registration and education campaigns in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. However, the increasing number of Asians and Pacific Islanders, especially those of immigrant background, who are seeking public office appears to be stimulating greater electoral participation among Asians and Pacific Islanders at the grassroots level. For example, it is becoming a common practice for Asian and Pacific Islander candidates to make special efforts in seeking monetary donations and in registering new voters among Asians and Pacific Islanders in the jurisdictions in which they are running for office. These activities provide Asian and Pacific Islander immigrants with important and direct vantage points from which to understand the workings of the American political system, thereby facilitating their political acculturation. At the same time, a wide array of advocacy and social services groups have formed in Asian and Pacific Islander communities across the nation, and a number of different outreach campaigns have been launched to promote citizenship and to register individuals, particularly those who have just become citizens at naturalization ceremonies.

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I And finally, disastrous events like the civil unrest in Los Angeles in 1992, in which more than 2,000 Korean and Asian and Pacific Islander-owned businesses were destroyed, have underscored the need for immigrant-dominant communities to place greater organizational and leadership emphasis on augmenting their access to and influence in local government and other policy arenas, as well as to increase their representation in voter-registration rolls. The start of the new century, widely viewed optimistically because of seemingly positive demographic trends, will be an important period to witness and analyze because of the extraordinary challenges and opportunities that will undoubtedly be presented to Asians and Pacific Islanders in realizing their full potential as citizens and electoral participants. However, the level of success that they will achieve in the political arena as well as other sectors of American society will not be solely determined by the Asian and Pacific Islander population, or its leaders and organizations. It will undoubtedly require the assistance and intervention of a wide array of groups, leaders, and institutions in both the private and public sectors. Whether Asians and Pacific Islanders become a major new political force in the American electoral system is nearly impossible to predict with any precision; however, our ability to raise and seriously entertain such a question in the context of the historical disenfranchisement and exclusion of Asians and Pacific Islanders is quite revealing in itself. REFERENCES Akaka, D. 1998 From the Senate floor: Asian Americans and the political fundraising investigation. Pp. 22–28 in The 1998–99 National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac, D. Nakanishi and J.Lai, eds. Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Arax, M. 1986 Group seeks to reverse voter apathy by Asians. Los Angeles Times (March 3):1–3. Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAsian and Pacific IslanderP) 1997 An Invisible Crisis: The Educational Needs of Asian Pacific American Youth. New York: Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. Asian and Pacific American Education Advisory Committee 1990 Enriching California’s Future: Asian/Pacific Americans in the CSU. Long Beach, Calif.: Office of the Chancellor. Asianweek 1984 Asians called a “major national force” in political fund-raising. Asianweek (June 1):5. Bai, S. 1991 Affirmative pursuit of political equality for Asian Pacific Americans: Reclaiming the Voting Rights Act. University of Pennsylvania Law Review 139(3):731–767.

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I Bouvier, L., and P.Martin 1985 Population Change and California’s Future. Washington, D.C.: Population Reference Bureau. Brown, G., et al. 1980 The Condition of Hispanic Americans. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Educational Statistics. Bunzel, J., and J.Au 1987 Diversity or discrimination? Asian Americans in college. Public Interest 87:49–62. California Department of Finance 1985 Projected Total Population of California Counties. Sacramento: Department of Finance. Cain, B. 1988 Asian-American electoral power: Imminent or illusory? Election Politics 5:27–30. Carmody, D. 1989 Secrecy and tenure: An issue for high court. New York Times (December 6):B8. Chan, S. 1991 Asian Americans: An Interpretive History. Boston: Twayne. Chen, M., W.New, and J.Tsutakawa 1989 Empowerment in New York Chinatown: Our work as student interns. Amerasia Journal 15:299–206. Chi, G., S.Cho, J.Kang, and F.Wu 1996 Beyond Self-Interest: Asian Pacific Americans Toward a Community of Justice. Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Chuman, F. 1976 The Bamboo People: Japanese Americans and the Law. Del Mar, Calif.: Publisher’s Inc. Chun, K. 1980 The myth of Asian American success and its educational ramifications. IRCD Bulletin 15:1–12. Davis, C., C.Haub, and J.Willette 1985 U.S. Hispanics: Changing the face of America. Pp. 464–489 in Majority and Minority, N.Yetman, ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Din, G. 1984 An analysis of Asian/Pacific American registration and voting patterns in San Francisco. M.A. thesis. Claremont Graduate School. Duran, R. 1983 Hispanics’ Education and Background: Predictors of College Achievement. New York: College Entrance Examination Board. Endo, R., S.Sue, and N.Wagner, eds. 1980 Asian Americans: Social and Psychological Perspectives, Vol. 2. Palo Alto, Calif.: Science and Behavior. Erie, S., and H.Brackman 1993 Paths to Political Incorporation: Hispanics and Asian Pacifics in California. Berkeley: The California Policy Seminar. Escueta, E., and E.O’Brien 1991 Asian Americans in Higher Education: Trends and Issues. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Higher Education. Espiritu, Y. 1992 Asian American Panethnicity: Bridging Institutions and Identities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 1997 Asian American Women and Men: Labor, Laws, and Love. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I Fawcett, J., and F.Arnold 1987 Explaining diversity: Asian and Pacific immigration systems. Pp. 453–473 in Pacific Bridges, J.Fawcett and B.Carino, eds. Staten Island, N.Y.: Center for Migration Studies. Fawcett, J., and B.Carino, eds. 1987 Pacific Bridges. Staten Island, N.Y.: Center for Migration Studies. The Field Institute 1992 A Digest on California’s Political Demography. Newsletter from the Field Institute, San Francisco. Fong, T. 1994 The First Suburban Chinatown. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Gall, S., and I.Natividad 1995 The Asian American Almanac. Detroit: Gale Research. Gardner, R., B.Robey, and P.Smith 1985 Asian Americans: Growth, change, diversity. Population Bulletin 4(4). Gittleman, Z. 1982 Becoming Israelis: Political Resocialization of Soviet and American Immigrants. New York: Praeger. Gurwitt, R. 1990 Have Asian Americans arrived politically? Not quite. Governing (November): 32– 38. Ha, J. 1996 APAs voted overwhelmingly against Prop. 209. Rafu Shimpo (Nov. 8):1. 1997 PSA say ‘get out the vote’—This time for local elections. Rafu Shimpo (February 28):1. Hing, B. 1993 Making and Remaking Asian America Through Immigration, 1850–1990. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Hing, B., and R.Lee, eds. 1996 The State of Asian Pacific America: Reframing the Immigration Debate. Los Angeles: LEAP Asian Pacific American Public Policy Institute and UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Hirschman, C., and M.Wong 1981 Trends in socioeconomic achievement among immigrant and native-born Asian-Americans, 1960–1976. Sociological Quarterly 22(4):495–514. Horton, J. 1995 The Politics of Diversity. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Hsia, J. 1988a Limits of affirmative action: Asian American access to higher education. Educational Policy 2:117–136. 1988b Asian Americans in Higher Education and Work. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Hune, S. 1998 Asian Pacific Women in Higher Education: Claiming Visibility and Voice. Washington, D.C.: Association of American Colleges and Universities. Hune, S., and K.Chan 1997 Special focus: Asian Pacific American demographic and education trends. In Minorities in Higher Education, Vol. 15, D.Carter and R.Wilson, eds. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education.

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America Becoming: Racial Trends and Their Consequences, Volume I Purdum, T. 1997 Asian-Americans set to flex political muscle made large. New York Times (November 15):A1, A9. Rafu Shimpo 1995 Asian Americans better educated but earn less. Rafu Shimpo (December 12):1. Root, M., ed. 1992 Racially Mixed People in America. Newbury Park: Sage. Saito, L. 1998 Race and Politics: Asian Americans, Hispanics, and Whites in a Los Angeles Suburb. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Shinagawa, L. 1995 Asian Pacific American Electoral Participation in the San Francisco Bay Area. Final Report. (June 15). San Francisco: Asian Law Caucus. 1996 The impact of immigration on the demography of Asian Pacific Americans. In. The State of Asian Pacific America: Reframing the Immigration Debate, B.Hing and R. Lee, eds. Los Angeles: LEAP Asian Pacific American Public Policy Institute and UCLA Asian American Studies Center. Skelton, G. 1993 Voters of Asian heritage slow to claim voice. Los Angeles Times (August 19):A3. Stanfield, R. 1997 Multiple choice. National Journal (November 22):2353–2355. Stokes, B. 1988 Learning the game. National Journal 43(October 22):2649–2654. Sue, S., and A.Padilla 1986 Ethnic minority issues in the United States: Challenges for the educational system. Pp. 35–72 in Beyond Language, S.Sue and A.Padilla, eds. Sacramento, Calif.: Bilingual Education Office, California Department of Education. Suzuki, B. 1977 Education and socialization of Asian Americans. Amerasia Journal 4:23–51. Tachibana, J. 1986 California’s Asians: Power from a growing population. California Journal 17:534– 543. Takagi, D. 1992 Retreat from Race. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. Takaki, R. 1989 Strangers from a Different Shore. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company. Tam, W. 1995 Asians—A monolithic voting bloc? Political Behavior 17(2):223–249. Tsuang, G. 1989 Assuring equal access of Asian Americans to highly selective universities. Yale Law Journal 98:659–678. U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 1979 Civil Rights Issues of Asian and Pacific Americans: Myths and Realities. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 1992 Civil Rights Issues Facing Asian Americans in the 1990s. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. U.S. Department of Commerce 1993a 1990 Census of the Population: Social and Economic Characteristics. California. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1993b We the Americans…Asians. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1999 Today’s Asian Pacific Americans: Population Snapshots. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of the Census.

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