Asian Immigrants in U.S. More Likely to Favor Democrats

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Photographer: Amy Toensing/Getty Images

A voter exits a booth at Kim's Hair & Nail Salon in Philadelphia.

Asian-Americans have surpassed Hispanics as the fastest-growing group of new immigrants to the U.S. and may provide a boost to Democratic Party hopes in this year’s elections, a survey shows.

Among immigrants to the U.S. in 2010, 36 percent were Asian and 31 percent Hispanic, according to the report by the Pew Research Center in Washington. In 2008, 42 percent of immigrants were Hispanic and 33 percent Asian.

Half of Asian-Americans say they’re Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with 28 percent who identify with or lean toward Republicans, the report released today shows. Among the general public, Democrats have a 49 percent to 39 percent lead over Republicans.

Their political views aren’t the only thing that set them apart. More than six in 10 people between the ages of 25 and 64 who came from Asia in recent years have at least a bachelor’s degree, twice as much as recent non-Asian immigrants. And they are three times more likely than other immigrants to get green cards because of their employer rather than their family ties.

“In an economy that increasingly relies on highly skilled workers, they are the best-educated, highest-income, fastest- growing race group in the country,” Paul Taylor, executive vice president of the Pew Research Center, says in the report.

Undocumented Immigrants

The 18.2 million Asian-Americans in 2011 comprised 5.8 percent of the U.S. population, up from less than 1 percent in 1965. There are 52 million Hispanics in the U.S., 16.7 percent of the population. About 45 percent of Hispanic immigrants are undocumented, compared with 13 percent to 15 percent of Asians.

Hispanic migration growth is declining because of fewer U.S. jobs due to the recession, an improving Mexican economy, stronger U.S. border enforcement, and a declining Mexican birth rate providing more opportunities at home, according to Mark Lopez, associate director of the Pew Hispanic Center.

“With the recession in recent years, we’ve seen a decline in the number of new immigrant arrivals from Latin America, particularly from Mexico,” Lopez said. “U.S. jobs is a big part of the story. Mexico and its economy is a big part of the story, and enforcement and changing demographics.”

The Asians surveyed -- which included those with Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese and Korean ancestry -- are twice as likely as the U.S. public to approve of the direction of the country, 43 percent versus 21 percent of the general public. They also give President Barack Obama a 54 percent job- approval rating, 10 points higher than the public.

Spending Cuts

Asian-Americans align themselves with Democratic efforts to oppose government spending cuts over Republican calls to rely solely on reductions in programs to reduce the budget deficit.

By 55 percent to 36 percent, Asian-Americans say they prefer a bigger government and more services to a smaller government and fewer services, the survey shows. Among the general public, those numbers were reversed, with 39 percent supporting a bigger government and 52 percent supporting fewer services.

The survey of 3,511 Asian-Americans was conducted from Jan. 3-March 27. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan D. Salant in Washington at jsalant@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jeanne Cummings at jcummings21@bloomberg.net.

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