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Wisconsin’s Asian American voters could decide election

Posted at 6:32 PM, Oct 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 19:33:17-04

MILWAUKEE — Despite making up just 3.3 percent of the state’s eligible voters, the Asian American vote could sway a swing state like Wisconsin on Nov. 3.

The Asian American Pacific Islander Data Survey says there are 91,556 voting-eligible Asian American or Pacific Islanders in Wisconsin. Wednesday afternoon, two of those people got out to vote early in Brown Deer.

“We vote every year,” Ge Vang said. “Voting is very important for us.”

Vang and his wife say it’s important they hit the polls so they can represent the community.

“We have a lot of Hmong people in Milwaukee here,” Vang said. “Everybody knows who they want to vote for. It doesn’t matter who, but it will have a lot of impact on the Asian community.”

“It’s clear, the Asian vote could make the difference, based on what we’ve seen in the past,” Maysee Herr, Executive Director of the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce said.

Herr says she has seen an increase in interest for the upcoming election. She says a big factor was the selection of the first Asian-American candidate for Vice President; Kamala Harris.

“I can’t say that’s true across the board, but I do feel that has swayed many people to say hey, she does represent us,” Herr said. “We’re going to own her. That’s going to bring me to the polls. Absolutely.”

However, Herr says that doesn’t mean the community as a whole will support one side or another. As diverse as the group is in culture, it is in politics as well.

“In the past, perhaps there were more left-leaning,” Herr said. “But I would tell you, this year, it’s not feeling that as much. It’s uncertain.”

A Pew Research Center study shows, 65 percent of Asian Americans lean Democrat. Herr says this election, the community appears to be more split for the two candidates, which could lessen the impact they have on the decision.

“I think, more than ever, this year, we’re divided as an Asian community as a whole,” Herr said. “Even within the Hmong community, for example. I’m Hmong. We’re very divided. Not everyone is going to be voting for Biden and not everyone is going to be voting for Trump on a national level here. People have very strong views.”

In 2016, 54.5 percent of Asian Americans voted. With 20 percent of the state’s Asian population in Milwaukee County, outreach efforts are underway to increase turnout.

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