Asian Americans: A voting block often overlooked

Posted at 8:10 PM, Sep 18, 2012
and last updated 2012-09-18 20:10:40-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- As the presidential election season intensifies, presidential candidates are zeroing in on demographics crucial to winning.

While both parties have explicitly sought the attention of women and Latinos, many Asian Americans feel overlooked.

"You cannot compare Latin America with Asia  - two very different cultures and leadership," My Lan Tran, Executive Director of the Asian Chamber of Virginia, said.

Tran said the community votes "both sides" and that it is often times difficult to accurately gauge its political pulse.

"They tend to not articulate," Michael Ng, a Chinese area business owner, told CBS 6.

"I guess it's just cultural - keep things from friends, stay away from problems, just go with the flow," Ng said.

Ng says that many Asian Americans are immigrants who do not speak the English language; something that makes learning the platforms of candidates difficult.

According to Pew Research, sixty-three percent of Asian Americans voted for President Obama in 2008. However newly released census data shows the Asian population doubling in Virginia, a fact that is encouraging for Republicans.

The Asian Chamber stresses that their community is more than just "East Asians," stressing Indian immigrants are Asians too.

"I'm undecided right now," Tony Sappal, a restaurant owner in Henrico, told CBS 6.

"I am looking out for a candidate who is going to be for small business," Sappal added.

Other issues important to Asian Americans, as told to CBS 6, include education reform and continued access to healthcare.

"We have to devote all of our energy and focus to nourishing our family," Tran said.