The exit poll showed 65 percent of Fil-Ams voted President Obama to a 2nd term in the White House; 32 percent voted for his Republican rival Mitt Romney’s in last November’s presidential elections.
The President thus fared much better than the 50 percent of Fil-Am voters he won over versus the 46 percent of his GOP rival Sen. John McCain in the 2008 elections.
The result surprised many in the Fil-Am community because a separate survey done about 2 months before the November 2012 polls showed that likely Fil-Am voters were leaning more for Romney, 39 percent compared to the President’s 33 percent.
The dramatic shift could be attributed in part to the aggressive voter registration campaign that appeared to have favored Democrats than it did for GOP candidates. The AALDEF exit poll revealed that 23 percent of Fil-Ams who cast a ballot last November were 1st time voters.
Fil-Am voters tracked closely with the overall results of the Asian American vote. The AALDEF poll showed about 77 percent of Asian Americans voted for President Obama, with the biggest majority posted by Bangladeshi Americans at 96 percent. The President lost only among Vietnamese Americans at 44 percent.
Of the Fil-Am voters polled, 52 percent identified themselves as Democrats, 26 percent Republicans and 18 percent as Independents.
"Asian Americans are a diverse community with varying social, political, and economic backgrounds," said AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung. "The AALDEF Exit Poll provides much needed data on Asian American voting trends, especially as our community's political influence continues to grow."
Glenn Magpantay, AALDEF Democracy Program Director, explained that the survey covered Asian American voters in 37 cities across 14 states on Election Day – New York , New Jersey , Massachusetts , Pennsylvania , Virginia , Maryland , Michigan , Illinois , Georgia , Louisiana , Florida , Texas , Nevada , California , and Washington D.C.
The largest Asian ethnic groups in the exit poll were Chinese (31%), Asian Indian (13%), Bangladeshi (12%), Vietnamese (12%), Korean (11%), Filipino (9%), Pakistani (3%), Arab (2%), Indo-Caribbean (1%), and Cambodian (1%).
Among their findings:
Location appears to matter. President Obama won big in the northeastern states (e.g. 89 percent in Pennsylvania and 86 percent in New York and Michigan ) and fared more poorly in the South (e.g. 57 percent in Texas and 16 percent in Louisiana).
The generational divide that marked the President’s 2008 victory appeared to continue in 2012. Only 10 percent of Asian Americans under 30 voted for Romney (he best performed in the 60-69 age bracket at 27 percent). Asian Americans under 40 broke heavily for the President.
The large number of 1st time voters appear to reinforce the notion Asian Americans are a growing segment of the electorate. About 79 percent of Asian Americans polled were foreign born. More than 27 percent of those polled said they voted for the 1st time last year.
Support for comprehensive immigration reform was overwhelming. About 34 percent of Asian Americans polled said they “strongly support” and 31 percent “support” comprehensive immigration, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The support is highest among Bangladeshi Americans at 78 percent and lowest among Vietnamese Americans at 49 percent.
When asked how the candidates stacked up against major issues, Asian American voters polled said they favored President Obama on healthcare, immigration and women’s issues; they favored Romney on the jobs and security issues.
In 24 of the 28 Congressional districts where the exit poll was conducted, a majority of Asian Americans supported Democratic candidates.
For the US Senate, 74 percent of Asian Americans overall voted for the Democratic candidate and 18 percent voted for the Republican candidate. For the US House of Representatives, 73 percent voted for the Democratic candidate and 17 percent voted for the Republican candidate.
In Virginia , Democratic senatorial candidate Tim Kaine got 70 percent of the Asian American vote compared to his GOP rival George Allen’s 26 percent. Kaine won the election.
AALDEF has conducted exit polls of Asian American voters in every major election since 1988. In the 2008 Presidential Election, AALDEF surveyed 16,665 Asian American voters in 11 states.
More than 100 community groups and organizations joined AALDEF to mobilize over 800 attorneys, law students, and volunteers to conduct the exit poll and to safeguard the voting rights of Asian Americans.