Asian Americans--NC's fastest growing ethnic group--say political parties not engaging with them

Akilah Davis Image
Thursday, August 4, 2022
NC Asian Americans say political parties not engaging with them
"I think right now, they're unaware the Asian American population is growing as fast as it is. And also overlooking the voting power we have," one Durham man said of the two major

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Jimmy Patel-Nguyen grew up in Charlotte and now lives in Durham. He is the son of Vietnamese refugees who moved to North Carolina after the Vietnam War. Voting is important to him.

"Candidates are not reaching out to Asian American communities in North Carolina," Patel-Nguyen said. "I think right now they're unaware the Asian American population is growing as fast as it is. And also overlooking the voting power we have."

Census data shows that Asians in North Carolina are the state's fastest-growing ethnic group. There has been a 64% increase from 2010 to 2020.

The results of the 2022 Asian American Voter Survey showed more than two-thirds of registered Asian Americans who were surveyed plan to vote, but only half have been contacted by either major party.

Digging deeper, 52% of Asian Americans said they have not been contacted by the Democratic Party in the past year and 60% said they haven't been contacted by the Republican Party.

"Couple of straight-forward reasons. One, they don't have a history of it. They tend to be very tradition-bound, which means they do what worked in the previous election," said David McLennan, Meredith College Political Science professor.

He explained that political parties aren't used to having political power in the Asian community while stating it's something they should overcome if they want to rally the votes of this fast-growing ethnic group.

"They need to recognize all voters matter including the AAPI community," he said. "It can be as simple as going into the neighborhoods where people live. It would be making sure the messaging is not just aimed generically at voters, but certain groups of voters."

Patel-Nguyen suggested that candidates should provide multilingual voter material, which helps those voters feel seen.

"Asian Americans are North Carolinians," said Patel-Nguyen. "When our communities are ignored, there are policies put in place that don't consider our needs and actually do harm and don't serve us."

Jimmy Patel-Nguyen is also the communications director for North Carolina Asian Americans Together. He explained this is the experience of many Asians across the state. Patel-Nguyen believes it's time for candidates to recognize this as there will be several toss-up races for midterm elections this November that will be influenced by the Asian American vote. Here's how he explains his community showcasing its voting power during the primaries.

"A recent election in Fayetteville for City Council and one candidate Mario Benavente won his race by just six votes last week. In Fayetteville there's a long-established and fast growing Asian American community. So without a doubt, that community helped play a role in Mario's narrow win. He's going to be the first Korean American to serve in the Fayetteville city council," said Patel-Nguyen.

ABC11 has reached out to both political parties for reaction but has not yet heard back.