Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Why some Asian-Americans skip elections: 'too busy'

Stickers saying
Stickers saying "I Voted" in English, Spanish and Chinese are offered at a polling place in San Francisco.
David Paul Morris/Getty Images

More than a third of Asian-Americans who didn't vote in 2010 said they were “too busy" or had "a conflicting work or school schedule,” according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center.

In contrast, about one in four Hispanics, whites and blacks cited a packed schedule for why they missed elections.

The survey data offers some explanation for why voter turnout among Asian Americans lags blacks and whites, even though they're the fastest-growing demographic in the United States, with high education and income levels that are usually predictors of participation at the polls. (Asian-American turnout in 2010 - 31 percent - is closer to that of Hispanic voters).

The Pew analysis, released Wednesday, found that voter turnout for college-educated Asian Americans was 40 percent, trailing their white cohorts who are at 64 percent, blacks at 57 percent and Hispanics at 50 percent. The trendline was similar when affluent Asian Americans are compared to high-income whites:

The Pew analysis also noted that half of Asian Americans "are Democrats or lean Democratic, while only 28% identify with or lean toward the GOP." 

This has got the attention of Republicans who are on a national campaign to court Asian-American voters. Even though voter turnout rates are low, the number of potential Asian-American voters is growing rapidly — enough that they could make a difference in specially competitive contests.