The election might be over, but the uphill battle against online misinformation, notably within first-generation immigrant communities, wages on.
According to CNN’s exit polling, Biden won over the majority of Asian American and Pacific Islander voters this presidential election — 61 percent of AAPI voters supported Biden, while 34 percent backed President Donald Trump. But if Democrats want to maintain a sizable lead, especially within specific ethnic groups where Democratic support has waned, they must address the growing issue of native-language misinformation, according to grassroots organizers and community activists.
Because upon disaggregating voter data — something few non-Asian polling organizations and publications tend to do — the political tendencies of this demographic are more complex and less predictable than meets the eye. A quarter of AAPI voters identify as independent, and as more people become naturalized citizens each cycle, Democrats and Republicans have a fresh slate of voters they’re able to court.
Data from the 2020 Asian American Voter Survey showed that out of the six ethnic groups surveyed, Vietnamese Americans were the only ones to express more support for Trump (48 percent) than Biden (36 percent). When factoring in surveys that extend back to 2012, however, data suggests that Republican margins, while still in the minority, are increasing. While some Asian experts thought AAPI voters might be turned off by Trump’s harsh xenophobic language (which fed into anti-Asian sentiments), surveys suggest that a not-insignificant minority of the electorate are not just tolerating it but have bought into the rhetoric, in addition to the rampant conspiracy theories.
Progressive Asian American organizers say online misinformation, specifically regarding the Democrats and the president-elect, played a role in exposing Asian American voters to more radical right-wing views since 2016. First-generation immigrants who have a contentious history with China and communist governments — such as those from Cambodia, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Laos — are more susceptible to the false claims Trump has made about China and its supposed impact on the election and the Democratic Party’s “socialist” tendencies.