Asian Americans Flex Political Muscle

By Jonathan Adams Oct 22, 2008

Today’s Washington Post says Asian voters in Virginia have become energized during this election season and will play a pivotal role in determining the state’s winner in the presidential race.

There are more than 160,000 Asian American citizens of voting age in the state, and an aggressive registration drive is adding several thousand voters. Partisan activists and public interest groups said Asian Americans could play as important a role in this national election as they did in the 2006 Senate race in Virginia, when they helped Democrat James Webb, a Vietnam war veteran, defeat incumbent George Allen.

Community leaders report that Asian Americans are forming multiethnic coalitions to further buttress their political power, but who Asians favor seems to differ based on age.

In Virginia, older refugees from communist countries admire McCain for his conduct as a prisoner of war and his later efforts to help restore relations with Vietnam. On Friday, a group of Vietnamese professionals held a fundraiser in Fairfax for Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), a longtime advocate of human rights in Asia. Many older Korean Americans, especially Christians and small-business owners, also are drawn to Republican Party values. Today, Northern Virginia’s Korean American community is divided, in part along generational lines, and there were reports of shouting matches between Obama and McCain supporters at a recent Korean festival.