“Asian-Americans tend to have progressive positions on things like taxes, on things like preserving social safety net, supporting the Affordable Care Act,” said [UC Riverside Professor Karthick] Ramakrishnan. Asian-Americans, he added, “including wealthy Asian-Americans, support policies that tend to be more in line with the Democratic Party than the Republican Party.”
But Ramakrishnan said it wasn’t always that way. The Asian-American political conversion started during Bill Clinton’s presidency because of a deliberate effort to court Asian-Americans.
“There’s a big shift that happens there,” said Ramakrishnan. “The Democratic Party is changing itself. It is portraying itself as a centrist party with respect to economic policy, and it is also trying to see itself as ‘big tent’ kind of party.”
During the George W. Bush administration, the leftist Asian tilt continued.
“The most likely explanation there is the kind of exclusionary rhetoric after 9/11 with the Patriot Act and racial profiling of South Asians,” said Ramakrishnan. “Many South Asians I know personally who might have been sympathetic to the Republican Party were starting to have second thoughts.”