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Why do Some Minorities Support the US Republican Party?

Paid Post:CityU College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

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In contemporary US politics, the Democratic Party is often regarded as the most welcoming to racial minority groups. Even so, each election cycle sees many members of these groups cast their vote for the Republican Party. In 2016, for example, Chinese Americans from the East Coast to Silicon Valley organised rallies for Republican candidates. Even though former President of the US, Donald Trump consistently used anti-Asian rhetoric throughout the pandemic, he received an even higher share of votes from Asian Americans in 2020 than in 2016. Why do some Asian Americans support a seemingly anti-minority party? 

Although existing research underscores the importance of majority-minority relations to voting behaviour, work done by Dr LIU Dongshu, Assistant Professor of CityU’s Department of Public Policy, and other researchers, proposes a new “minority-minority” perspective. He argues that some Asian Americans feel victimised by pro-minority policies promoted by the Democratic Party as they perceive those policies to only help African Americans and Latino Americans at the expense of Asian Americans. This perceived competition results in Asian Americans supporting the Republican Party, whose policies they perceive to, at least, undermine their competitors from other minority groups. In short, we argue that Asian Americans support the seemingly anti-minority Republicans because they feel more threat from other minority groups.

To assess this, the research team relied on two representative surveys of Asian Americans from 2012 and 2016, along with an experiment Liu and his team conducted in 2018. The surveys find that Asian Americans who perceive themselves to have less in common politically with African and Latino Americans are more likely to support the Republican Party. Experimentally, the team uses affirmative action in university admissions, which many Asian Americans believe to disproportionately favour African and Latino Americans at the expense of Asian Americans, to show that Asian Americans reminded of “unfair” university admissions are more supportive of the Republican Party. The research concludes that Asian Americans become supportive of the Republican Party, despite its anti-minority position, when they perceive stronger competition from other minority groups.

Taken together, the findings are insightful to people who are interested in the role that Asian Americans play as the fastest-growing ethnic group in US politics. These findings suggest that those involved in American politics should stop referring to “minority groups” as monolithic and, instead, recognise that each group is unique. As it turns out, some minorities vote for a political party because of, not in spite of, the fact that it is problematic for members of minority groups.

Publication and achievements

Liu, D & Carrington, N (2022), Minority versus Minority: Partisanship and Inter-Group Competitions among Asian Americans, American Politics Research, vol 50, no 2, pp 265-276. DOI: 10.1177/1532673X211053218.