Now, Georgia Democratic Party staffers have started offering their Asian American outreach program as a model to other state parties.
“We certainly aren’t taking the community for granted,” said Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux.
The freshman congresswoman lost in the suburban Atlanta 7th District by fewer than 1,000 votes in 2018. In November, she won by 10,000 votes, flipping what was once a Republican stronghold. She said her campaign’s data show the share of Asian American voters increased in the district from 7% in 2016 to 11% in 2020 — enough that she considers the community decisive in her political fortunes.
That influence doesn't only benefit Democrats. In California, where the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has long been a political force, freshman Reps. Young Kim and Michelle Steele, both Republicans, became the first Korean American women elected to Congress while giving the GOP two big pickups.
Asian Americans are particularly important as Democrats target suburban voters across the Sun Belt, including the growing communities around Charlotte, Houston and Phoenix, said Guy Cecil, head of the Democratic super PAC Priorities USA.
For example, Priorities’ review of the November election results found that Asian Americans increased their share of the suburban vote in Georgia by 2.5 percentage points compared with 2016. They also made up a notable share of new voters in Arizona and Wisconsin — places where new voters favored Biden and helped drive his victories — the group found.
“We must mobilize these same people in 2022. This is going to be critical for Democrats to maintain our majorities (in Congress) and win governors' races," Cecil said.
Au and Bourdeaux said it’s also important for elected officials and others to understand the breadth of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and not treat it simply as a bloc to be tapped for votes.
Bourdeaux praised a “diverse community that is South Asian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, a host of different religions, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, non-religious, and so on, just an extraordinarily diverse group of people.”