Fri, Oct 24, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Asian-American voters may be key in US elections


Asian-Americans may be the biggest group of undecided voters in the upcoming US presidential and congressional elections and will play a key role in the outcome of the ballot, officials said.

With the economic crisis their top concern, many of the 7 million eligible Asian-American voters are likely to choose Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama and are clamoring to send more of their representatives to Congress and state legislatures, the officials said.

Among those who have made up their mind ahead of the Nov. 4 elections, 41 percent are likely to vote for Obama and 24 percent for Republican Senator John McCain, polls showed.

Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Asia, has sent a personal message to the voters, saying he considered himself “an honorary” member of the community.

“I was born in Hawaii, a majority Asian-American state, where I spent much of my childhood, and I’ve lived in Indonesia ... I had college roommates who were Indian and Pakistani,” he said in a “blueprint for the change we need” for the 13 million strong community.

“My sister is half Indonesian and she is married to a Chinese-Canadian,” he said.

McCain also has powerful Asian connections because of having served in the Vietnam War and having adopted a Bangladeshi daughter.

And many Asian-Americans are attracted by his immigration reforms and bipartisanship.

McCain enjoys two-thirds of Vietnamese-Americans’ support, the polls indicate.

Despite the two candidates’ strong lobbying efforts, 34 percent of all likely Asian-American voters remain undecided on who to send to the White House, compared with about 8 percent among the general population, a recent national survey showed.

“With such a high proportion of undecided voters, Asian-Americans are a critical source of potential votes for either candidate in the final weeks of the campaign,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan from the University of California, Riverside, among four universities that conducted the poll.

Also, the number of eligible Asian-American voters has exceeded the margin of victory in about 50 congressional races, said Naomi Tacuyan, deputy director of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, a group campaigning for greater community participation in electoral and public policy processes.

Asian-Americans are contesting 11 seats for the House of Representatives, including six of the seats they hold.

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