Asian Americans in government and politics
Asian Americans have a high level of political incorporation in terms of their actual voting population. However, as a result of this group's historically low voting rates, overall political incorporation of the general population is relatively low. Although the population of this group has increased in size by 600% in 30 years due to immigration, heavy naturalization and voter outreach efforts have provided this primarily foreign-born community with less than 1% of voters. The low political incorporation of Asian Americans has posed a concern especially when taking into account the fact that they are the fastest growing population in the U.S.
In some areas where Asian Americans have large populations, Asian Americans have elected Asian American candidates at the city and local level; examples of this include Vietnamese Americans in Orange County and Chinese Americans in San Francisco. However, this is not always the case.
George Ariyoshi, who served as the Governor of Hawaii from 1974 to 1986, was the first American of Asian descent to be elected governor of a state of the United States. He continues to hold the record as the longest-serving state governor in Hawaii.
David Ige, current governor of Hawaii since December 1, 2014, is of Japanese-American descent like his predecessor and is additionally the first person of Okinawan descent to hold office in the U.S.
In 1996 Gary Locke was elected governor of the state of Washington, becoming the first Chinese American to be elected governor in United States history and the first Asian American governor on the mainland. Locke served as governor from 1997-2005.
Bobby Jindal served in various executive positions in Louisiana and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services before being elected to the Congress in 2004, and finally winning the Louisiana gubernatorial elections in 2007 (thereby becoming the first non-white governor of Louisiana since Reconstruction), the first elected Indian American governor in U.S. history, as well as the second Asian American governor to serve in the continental United States.
Nikki Haley served as the 116th Governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017. Haley previously represented Lexington County in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2005 to 2010. She is the first Sikh American governor in the United States, first female governor of South Carolina, second elected Indian American governor in U.S. history, as well as the third Asian American governor to serve in the continental United States. Nikki Haley's election wasn't the only first for Asian Americans to occur during the 2010 election cycle.
In California Kamala Harris, who is half-Indian American, became the first female, first African American, and first Asian American state attorney general in the United States. Other Asian-Americans serving in state-wide office in California include State Treasurer John Chiang and State Controller Betty Yee.
With his victory in 2011, David Oh became the first Asian-American elected to political office in the City of Philadelphia. He is currently serving his first term as City Councilman At-Large, Minority Whip.
Benito Legarda y Tuason and Pablo Ocampo joined the House in 1907 as Resident Commissioners, becoming the first Asian Americans to serve in the Congress, albeit as non-voting members, and beginning the representation of the Philippines which ended in 1946.
Dalip Singh Saund, an Indian American from Imperial and Riverside Counties, was the first South Asian American elected into Congress, and was one of only three Indian Americans to have been elected, serving from 1957 to 1963. Hiram Fong, who served three decades in the Senate from 1959 to 1977, became the first Chinese American member of Congress, and first Asian American senator. Daniel Inouye (who served from 1959-2012) was the first Japanese American in the House and later the first in Senate. Spark Matsunaga was the second Japanese American to serve in the House (served 1971-77). Matsunaga and S. I. Hayakawa were the second and third Japanese Americans to serve in the Senate. Matsunaga served in the Senate between 1977 and 1990, while Hayakawa served in the Senate between 1977 and 1983.
Patsy Mink (served 1965-77 and again from 1990–2002) was the first Asian American woman and the first Japanese American woman to serve in Congress. Norman Mineta (served 1975-95) was the fourth Japanese American to serve in the House. Bob Matsui (served 1979-2005) was the fifth Japanese American to serve in the House. Daniel Kahikina Akaka, appointed as U.S. senator of Hawaii in 1990, and then subsequently reelected for two terms in 1994 and 2000, is the first senator of native Hawaiian descent. Bobby Scott, elected in 1993, is the first US born member of Congress to have Filipino ancestry. He was joined by Jay Kim, the first Korean American to be elected to Congress, as well as the first Korean elected to a national office outside of Korea; since he left office there have been no Korean Americans in Congress. In 1998, David Wu was elected and became the only Chinese American of Taiwanese ancestry to serve be a member of Congress. Wu resigned in 2011, which was followed by a brief absence of Taiwanese Americans in Congress until the election of Grace Meng in 2012.
John Ensign, who is part Filipino American, was elected to the senate in 2000 and resigned in 2011; there have been no Filipino American senators since. In 2008, Joseph Cao of Louisiana became the first elected Vietnamese American in Congress; since he left office in 2011 there have been no Vietnamese Americans in Congress. Also in 2008, Multiracial Filipino American Steve Austria was elected, becoming the first first-generation Filipino elected to Congress, he chose not to run for re-election in 2012. In 2010, Inouye was sworn in as President Pro Tempore making him the highest-ranking Asian American politician in American history. That same year, Charles Djou became the first Thai American to be elected to Congress; he left Congress in 2011, and no Thai American served in the Congress until Tammy Duckworth was elected in 2012 as the first female Thai American, as well as the first Thailand-born representative. In 2011, Representative Hansen Clarke became the first Bangladeshi American to service in Congress; he lost his seat after being defeated in the 2012 primary, no Bangladeshi Americans have served in Congress since.
There are presently 15 Asian Pacific Americans in the House and 3 in the Senate, in the 115th United States Congress. The following marks the total number of Asian Americans in the U.S. Congress since 1957: 33 representatives and 9 senators. Representatives include those from Japanese, Taiwanese, Filipino, Thai, Indian, Samoan, and Vietnamese American backgrounds.
Representative Judy Chu is Chinese American.
Representative Bobby Scott is Filipino American.
Senator Tammy Duckworth is Thai American.
Representative Stephanie Murphy is Vietnamese American.
Note that Scott and Harris both are multiracial; Scott is one-fourth Filipino and three-fourths African American, while Harris is one-half Indian and one-half African American.
Norman Mineta became the first Asian American cabinet member, serving as Secretary of Commerce in 2000, then was appointed Secretary of Transportation between 2001 and 2006. Elaine Chao was selected as a White House Fellow, and then served in a series of appointed posts prior to becoming the Secretary of Labor from 2001 to 2009; she became the first, and as of February 2011 only, Asian American woman to be in the U.S. Cabinet. Neel Kashkari became the first Indian American to serve at the secretary level when President Bush appointed him Assistant Secretary of the Treasury to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) from October 2008 through May 2009.
Gary Locke became the first Chinese American Secretary of Commerce, and the third Asian American in the present cabinet. He joined Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, tying the Bush Administration for having the most Asian Americans in cabinet positions in United States history. By June 2014, all Asian Americans on the Obama Administration cabinet had resigned; in the first time since 2000, there were no Asian Americans on the U.S. Cabinet.
On January 25, 2017, Nikki Haley was sworn in as United States Ambassador to the United Nations following her nomination by Donald Trump. She became the first Indian American to serve in a Cabinet-level government position on a permanent basis. 
Voting trends and party affiliation
From the 1940s to the 1990s most Asian Americans were anti-communist refugees who had fled mainland China, North Korea or Vietnam, and were strongly anti-Communist. Many had ties to conservative organizations. In recent years, more liberal Asian-American groups such as newer Chinese and Indian immigrants have greatly changed the Asian-American political demographics, as well as a larger proportion of younger Asian Americans, many of whom have completed college degrees.
During the 1990s and 2000s, Asian American voting behavior shifted from moderate support for the Republican Party to stronger support for the Democratic Party. In the 1992 presidential election Republican George H. W. Bush received 55% of the Asian-American vote compared to 31% for Democrat Bill Clinton. Asian Americans voted Republican and were the only racial group more conservative than whites in the 1990s, according to surveys. By the 2004 election, Democrat John Kerry won 56% of the Asian American vote, with Chinese and Indian Americans tending to support Kerry, and Vietnamese and Filipino Americans tending to support George Bush. Japanese-Americans leaned towards Kerry, while Korean-Americans leaned towards Bush. Democrat Barack Obama won 62% of the Asian American vote in the 2008 presidential election, with the margin increasing during the 2012 presidential election, where Asian Americans voted to re-elect Obama by 73%. In the 2014 midterm elections, based on exit polls, 50% of Asian Americans voted Republican, while 49% voted Democrat; this swing towards voting for Republicans was a shift from the strong Democratic vote in 2012, and had not reached 50% since 1996. The 2016 National Asian American Survey, conducted before the 2016 presidential election, found that 55% of Asian American registered voters supported Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and only 14% supported Republican candidate Donald Trump.
Despite their growing trend of voting for Democrats in national elections, Asian Americans have tended to identify as independents and have not developed strong ties to political parties as a group. Due to the smaller size of the groups population, in comparison to the population as a whole, it has been difficult to get an adequate sampling to forecast voter outcomes for Asian Americans. In 2008, polls indicated that 35% considered themselves non-partisan, 32% Democrats, 19% independents, and 14% Republicans. The 2012 National Asian American Survey found that 51% considered themselves non-partisan, 33% Democrats, 14% Republicans, and 2% Other; Hmong, Indian, and Korean Americans strongly identified as Democrats, and Filipino and Vietnamese Americans most strongly identified as Republicans. In 2013, according to the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Chinese Americans were the least likely Asian American ethnicity to have a party affiliation, with only one third belonging to a party. The 2016 National Asian American Survey found that 41% of Asian Americans identified as non-partisan, 41% as Democrats (a modest increase from 2008 and 2012), and 16% as Republicans.
Neither the Republican nor Democratic parties have financed significant efforts to the registration of Asian Americans, however much more attention has been focused on contributions from Asian Americans, having once been referred to as potential "Republican Jews". As recently as 2006 the outreach of America's two major political parties have been unbalanced, with the Democratic Party devoting more resources in attracting Asian Americans. In 2016, a majority of Asian-Americans possessed the same political views on racial profiling, education, social security, and immigration reform as the Democratic Party; the efforts to attract Asian-Americans has produced a proportionally significant growth in Democratic affiliation by Asian-Americans from 2012 to 2016 by 12 percent. Political affiliation aside, Asian Americans have trended to become more politically active as a whole, with 2008 seeing an increase of voter participation by 4% to a 49% voting rate.
- Office, US Census Bureau Public Information. "Facts for Features: Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month: May 2012 - Facts for Features & Special Editions - Newsroom - U.S. Census Bureau". www.census.gov. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- Kandil, Caitlin Yoshiko. "Asian Americans' numbers and political influence are growing". Daily Pilot. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- "The Rise of Asian Americans". Pew Research Center’s Social & Demographic Trends Project. 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- Trounson, Rebecca (2012-06-18). "Fueled by immigration, Asians are fastest-growing U.S. group". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- Shih, Gerry (2011-11-05). "In Mayoral Election, Chinese-Americans’ Growing Power Is on Display". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- Aoki, Andrew; Takeda, Okiyoshi (2008). Asian American Politics. Polity. p. 106. ISBN 9780745634463. Retrieved 3 March 2013.
- Niiya, Brian; Japanese American National Museum (1993). Japanese American history: an A-to-Z reference from 1868 to the present. VNR AG. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-8160-2680-7. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- "David Y. Ige | David Ige, Governor, State of Hawaii". governor.hawaii.gov. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- CYNTHIA DE CASTR (18 November 2008). "Benjamin Jerome ‘Ben’ Cayetano: 1st US FilAm State Governor". Asian Journal. Archived from the original on 24 March 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- "Governor Locke". Washington State Office of the Governor. 2004. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Jan Moller (21 October 2007). "1st Indian-American governor in U.S. vows 'fresh start' for La". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
- Belles of the South Audrey/Asian Women's Magazine - April/May 06' Archived 12 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Haley Becomes South Carolina's 1st Woman Governor". Associated Press. 2 November 2010. Archived from the original on 25 January 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Raju Chebium (14 February 2011). "Second generation Indian-Americans shed apathy, vie for public service". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Reshma Dhawan (2009). "The New Face of Politics...An Interview with Kamala Harris". Cultural Features. DesiClub, Inc. Archived from the original on 11 June 2009. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- Nina Huang (22 December 2010). "The top 10 amazing Asian American achievers of 2010". North Asian Weekly. Retrieved 22 March 2011.
- "Philadelphia Council Member Profile". Retrieved 3 August 2015.
- Dodge, Andrew R (2005). Biographical directory of the United States Congress, 1774 - 2005. Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office. p. 273. ISBN 978-0-16-073176-1. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Lorraine H. Tong (7 July 2010). "Asian Pacific Americans in the United States Congress". Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Lynda Arakawa (19 August 2004). "First Asian in U.S. Senate broke barriers". Honolulu Advertiser. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- "Daniel Kahikina Akaka". www.infoplease.com. Retrieved 2017-02-12.
- "Biography". Office of Representative Robert C. "Bobby" Scott. Archived from the original on 3 March 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Drummond Ayres Jr., B. (28 April 1998). "Political Briefing; To His Own Party, Persona Non Grata". New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
- Zwetsloot, J. (22 December 2008). "Melissa Lee - first Korean member in New Zealand's parliament". Korean Culture and Information Service. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
- Braden Smith (6 April 2010). "Online exclusive: Congressman Wu visits campus for ‘Pizza & Politics’". The Linfield Review. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Charles Pope; Janie Har; Beth Slovic (26 July 2011). "Rep. David Wu boxed in by ethics investigation, forced to resign after pressure from colleagues". The Oregonian. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- Tony Batt (30 April 2008). "Ensign stands firm on vote". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- Jonathan D. Salant; James Rowley (22 April 2011). "Nevada Senator Ensign Will Resign May 3 to Avoid Ethics Inquiry of Affair". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 8 July 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
- "Fil-Am lawmaker decides not to seek reelection in Ohio". ABS-CBN news. January 19, 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Pat Gee (13 June 2010). "Djou makes history as Thai American". Star Advertiser. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
Besides being the first Republican from Hawaii elected to Congress in 20 years, U.S. Rep. Charles Djou is the first person of Thai ancestry to serve in Congress.
- Associated Press (14 June 2010). "Djou is first Thai-American in Congress". KPUA. Archived from the original on 14 July 2014. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- Curtis Lum (1 August 2011). "Charles Djou eyes possibilities in next fall's elections". Pacific Business News. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- "First Bangladeshi-American Elected to US Congress". Voice of America. 3 November 2010. Archived from the original on 25 January 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Pegram, Chad; Marcos, Christina (7 August 2012). "Peters defeats Clarke in feisty member-versus-member Michigan Democratic primary". Fox News. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- Wang, Frances Kai-Hwa (12 November 2014). "Midterm Elections: How Did Asian-American Candidates Fare". NBC News. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
- "New Congress Includes More Women, Minorities". New York Times. Associated Press. 4 January 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
There are 34 Hispanic lawmakers, including 10 Republicans, as well as 10 Asian-Americans and two Native Americans, both Oklahoma Republicans. Democrat Mazie Hirono of Hawaii is the only Asian-American in the Senate.
Krogstad, Jens Manuel (12 January 2015). "114th Congress is most diverse ever". Fact Tank. Pew Research Center. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- Manning, Jennifer E. (2016). "Membership of the 114th Congress: A Profile" (PDF). Congressional Research Service: 8.
- "Profile: Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta: Only Democrat in President George W. Bush's Cabinet Asked to Stay On". ABC News. 13 January 2005. Archived from the original on 29 January 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- "U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao Visits Houston Chinese Community Center". ChinatownConnection.com. 28 April 2006. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Harumi Gondo (27 February 2009). "Obama's Asian-American Cabinet picks". UPI Asia. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- Mak, Tim (1 June 2014). "There Are No Asian-Americans In The Cabinet For The First Time Since 2000". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- Emma Dumain (25 January 2017). "Nikki Haley sworn in as U.N. ambassador on same day Trump moves to cut U.S. involvement". The Post and Courier. Archived from the original on 31 January 2017. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
- Jeffrey D. Schultz, ed., Encyclopedia of Minorities in American Politics (2000) Volume 1 pp 261-62
- William Wei, The Asian American movement (1993) pp 16, 226, 274
- William Wei, The Asian American movement (1993) pp 170, 274
- "How Asian Americans Became Democrats". The American Prospect. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
- Jim Lobe, Asian-Americans lean toward Kerry Archived 19 September 2008 at the Library of Congress, Asia Times. September 16, 2004.
- Election results, America Votes 2004, CNN;
^ Exit Polls, CNN.
- Hilburn, Matthew (2012-11-07). "Exit Polls Show Asian Americans Backed Obama by Wide Margin". Voice of America. Retrieved 2012-11-10.
- McLaughlin, Seth (9 November 2014). "GOP makes big inroads with Asian voters in midterms". Washington Times. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
- Ramakrishnan, Karthick; Wong, Janelle; Lee, Taeku; Lee, Jennifer (2016-10-05). "Report on Registered Voters in the Fall 2016 National Asian American Survey" (PDF). National Asian American Survey. Retrieved 2016-10-05.
- "Hajnal, Z.L. and Lee, T.: Why Americans Don't Join the Party: Race, Immigration, and the Failure (of Political Parties) to Engage the Electorate. (eBook and Paperback)". press.princeton.edu. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
- Lee, Taeku. "Asian Americans and the Electorate". American Political Science Association. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
- Feng, Rex (24 October 2008). "Who Is The Asian American Voter?". AsianWeek. Archived from the original on 9 February 2009. Retrieved 23 August 2009.
- Jerry Large (26 September 2012). "Asian-American voters a force in November election". Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- Karthick Ramakrishnan; Taeku Lee (8 October 2012). "Public Opinion Of a Growing Electorate: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in 2012" (PDF). The National Asian American Survey. Retrieved 19 November 2012.
- Matthew Hilburn (17 January 2013). "Asian-American Vote Reveals Nuances". Voice of America. Retrieved 25 January 2013.
Chinese-Americans were the least likely to affiliate with a party. Magpantay suggested that only one third of Chinese-Americans belong to a party, compared with 71 percent among all Asian-Americans, because of the negative association of the word party with the Communist Party in China.
- Chen, Edith Wen-Chu (2010). Grace J. Yoo, ed. Encyclopedia of Asian American Issues Today, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 722. ISBN 978-0-313-34751-1. Retrieved 19 March 2011.
- Cho, Wendy K. Tam (2002). "Tapping Motives and Dynamics behind Campaign Contributions: Insights from the Asian American Case". American Politics Research. SAGE Publications. 30 (4): 347–383. doi:10.1177/1532673X02030004001. Retrieved 19 March 2011.[permanent dead link]
- Stewart David Ikeda. "Has the GOP Given Up on Asian Americans?". IMDiversity Inc. Archived from the original on 27 December 2010. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
- "Inclusion, Not Exclusion" (PDF). http://www.apiavote.org. Asian-American Voter Survey(AAVS). May 22, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2016. External link in
- Edwards, Tom (20 July 2009). "Voter Turnout Increases by 5 Million in 2008 Presidential Election". U.S. Census Bureau News. U.S. Department of Commerce. Archived from the original on 20 October 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-26.
|This section is empty. You can help by adding to it. (February 2011)|