If Mitt Romney wants to reach 270 electoral votes, and win the presidency, he must aggressively target Asian-American voters.
Asians — Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Filipinos, Vietnamese and Koreans — are the nation’s wealthiest, most highly educated and most aspirational voting demographic. Their numbers have grown by more than 40 percent in the last decade, and they are concentrated in key electoral battleground states like Nevada, Michigan, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Despite surveys showing Asian-Americans as more favorable toward Obama and government than the general public, their actual voting behavior in recent elections offers Romney an opportunity. Look to 2009, the year Republicans recovered from the Obama blowout and stormed back to retake the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey.
Republican Bob McDonnell targeted Asian-Americans energetically, even though they constitute just 5.9 percent of Virginians. He employed multiple strategies, such as asking Asian business owners to publicly communicate their support by putting McDonnell signs in their storefronts. His campaign communicated with Asian-American voters in their native languages in everything from mailers to radio ads to yard signs. A postelection survey of Asian-American voters in Northern Virginia found that nearly 60 percent voted for McDonnell.
Middlesex, New Jersey’s second most populous county, is a perennial Democratic bastion, but in 2009, it went for Chris Christie by 48 percent to 44 percent — almost precisely his statewide margin. Not coincidentally, Middlesex now has among the highest percentages of Asian-Americans outside of Hawaii and the San Francisco Bay area.