Gavin Newsom and Larry Elder want votes from Asian Americans. Are they a recall swing vote?

By Jeong Park, The Modesto Bee |

The attention each candidate is paying to Asian Americans communities reflects their growing clout in California politics. In 2003, when the state had its last recall election, Asian Americans made up just 7% of California’s electorate. Now, the population makes up 17% of California’s electorate.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders tend to vote Democratic and polls show the majority of them oppose the campaign to recall Newsom. The latest UC Berkeley poll found that the population opposes the recall by a margin of 70% 29%.

But California polls tend to have a small sample size for Asian Americans and they might not accurately reflect the diversity of viewpoints within disparate communities. Asian Americans, for instance, had a big part in flipping two Congressional districts in Southern California to the Republican Party in 2020, when GOP Reps. Young Kim and Michelle Steel won office.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of political science at UC Riverside and founder of AAPI Data, said last year’s victories for Kim and Steel might not foreshadow a surge of Asian American votes for Elder because of the peculiarities of a recall campaign’s timing and focus.

“When you look at Steel and Young Kim, those were all national issues candidates were running on,” he said. “They weren’t running on the future of California.”