Asian Americans in Nevada are highly sought after voters

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Rochelle Nguyen’s mailbox was flooded with glossy advertising mailings. Because his family includes registered Republicans as well as Democrats, the documents run the gamut of hot topics being discussed midterm.

But one thing is different this election, the Nevada assembly said, “I can tell you, everything from social media messages to senders – I’ve never received so much in Vietnamese.”

The pile of political mail that sits in Nguyen’s Las Vegas home is an indicator that Asian American communities have become a critical constituency for Republicans and Democrats, especially on key battlegrounds like Nevada’s 3rd congressional district — one of the most expensive congressional races in the country.

Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the United States and make up more than 10% of the population in five states, including Nevada, which has large Filipino and Chinese American populations. The state’s voting-age Asian American population is approximately 350,000. President Joe Biden won in 2020 by approximately 34,000 votes.

The two parties are testing whether their campaign messages on crime, inflation and abortion resonate in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, including the region’s largest neighborhoods to the west and southwest. from the Las Vegas Strip.

The GOP’s Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $10.9 million campaigning in the Las Vegas district — more than any other in the country. The majority PAC in the House of Democrats spent $3.4 million, according to data aggregated by California Target Book, which tracks federal campaign finance filings.

US Representative Susie Lee spent an afternoon this week visiting Chinatown Plaza in Las Vegas to speak to business owners about how she and other Democrats have worked to ensure they have the resources necessary to withstand the spiraling costs and the scars that the pandemic has inflicted on the national economy.

The second-term Democrat said the Asian American community in her district has always been a focus, but Lee’s eleventh-hour push comes amid unprecedented efforts by Republicans in Nevada, including her opponent, April Becker, to direct the party’s economy-focused message to Asian America. voters.

“I keep reminding people that, yes, inflation affects us all; it hurts us at the gas pump and at the grocery store. But there is a part that has taken steps to fight inflation and there is a part that wants to use it as a talking point,” Lee said, noting that Asian American business owners often thank her for supporting economic relief throughout the pandemic.

Becker declined to be interviewed for this story.

The Democratic-controlled legislature prioritize the union of the Asian American community in the 3rd District when they redrew the state’s political maps last year without Republican support. Asian Americans now make up 21% of the voting age population.

On paper, the neighborhood is now bluer than before, but the new boundaries could backfire.

After exceeding expectations in 2020 with Asian Americans, Republicans are working to continue their inroads in places like Southwest Las Vegas, where the Republican National Committee has opened an “American Community Center for Asia-Pacific” to lead its outreach efforts six months ago.

More than ever, they say, Republicans are publishing campaign materials in Chinese, Hindi, Korean and Vietnamese and advertising in community newspapers like the Philippine Times in southern Nevada and the Asian Journal in Las Vegas, where RNC President Ronna McDaniel published an editorial from last month titled, “Filipino Americans Strengthen Our Country.” Democrats don’t.

Similar outreach tactics have been used for years by Democrats to get the vote in Asian American communities. This year in Nevada, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is running ads focusing on abortion and hate crimes, including in Tagalog, to contrast Lee and Becker. They run ads in the same community newspapers as Republicans as well as in the bimonthly Korea Times Las Vegas and on Philippine radio station PHLV.

Although Asian Americans have always leaned toward Democrats, Republicans are hoping to narrow the margin.

“It’s not going to be the outright victory of the AAPI vote, it’s going to be the GOP winning more votes while the Democrats continue to lose Asian voters. They’re going to be the margin of victory in tight races, whether in Nevada, whether it’s Texas, Arizona or Georgia,” said Nainoa Johsens, RNC’s AAPI Outreach Director.

“We’ve made inroads in places that people in the past didn’t traditionally think the GOP would do,” he added.

Amid a wave of anti-Asian hate crimes, Republicans said this year’s focus on public safety will resonate in Asian American communities. They also hope participation will be encouraged by the experience of Asian American students in college admissions, which is central to a high-profile affirmative action case before the United States Supreme Court.

Janelle Wong, a University of Maryland professor who co-directs the research group AAPI Data, said both parties contacted more voters than in previous elections.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are a linguistically, economically and politically diverse group, but survey data shows that the group – compared to other demographic groups – is relatively united around certain issues, particularly in favor of access to reproductive health care.

Although Democrats have made abortion a centerpiece of their midterm campaigns since overturning Roe v. Wade, if Republicans are able to motivate voters around issues like crime or a sluggish economy, their efforts could be decisive in races that boil down to a few. thousands of voters.

“If their goal is to eat away at the Democratic bloc and if the past is any indication, they might succeed,” Wong said.

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