Politics

New poll finds California's Asian American voters are shifting to the left

FILE: A new poll shows shifting political views among Asian Americans in California.
FILE: A new poll shows shifting political views among Asian Americans in California.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

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While conservative on some issues, Asian American voters in California have long been known to lean Democratic. But new polling data shows that the electorate may be shifting further to the left.

Dan Ichinose, demographic research project director of  the civil rights group Asian Americans Advancing Justice LA, led a phone poll of over 3,500 registered voters conducted between October and March.

A full 35 percent of California's Asian American voters aren't affiliated with a political party, according to a March 2016 poll by Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
A full 35 percent of California's Asian American voters aren't affiliated with a political party, according to a March 2016 poll by Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice

The results, released Wednesday during the two-day Advancing Justice Conference in downtown Los Angeles, found broad support among Asian American voters for issues like building a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants.

There was also a consensus among the registered voters polled that surprised Ichinose: a majority of Asian Americans support the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality.

As recently as 2008, Asian Americans as a group were divided on gay marriage, he said. 

"We’ve found that there’s really been a sea change in terms of Asian American support for these issues," he said.

He estimates Asian Americans will make up about 11 percent of the statewide vote come November.

Kyle Tsukahira, 26, from Temple City attended the conference. He said he’s been encouraging a lot of his friends to participate in the upcoming elections.

"I think, generally speaking, people are excited about the upcoming election,” he said.

As for who he’s supporting, Tsukahira was among several young people at the conference who said they are supporting Bernie Sanders. 

"I’m definitely feeling the Bern," Tsukahira said. “I just feel like everything he stands for is something that I really believe in."

Kyle Tsukahira, left, and Daniel Naha-Ve'evalu are among the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders attending the Advancing Justice Conference Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles.
Kyle Tsukahira, left, and Daniel Naha-Ve'evalu are among the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders attending the Advancing Justice Conference Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles.
Mary Plummer/KPCC

Asian Americans in California are split across party lines, Advancing Justice said in releasing its poll data. Thirty-seven percent are registered as Democrats and 23 percent as Republicans. An "astonishing" 35 percent are unaffiliated with a political party, the group said.