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Asian American Pacific Islander voter turnout increased almost 46 percent in 2020

Asian American Pacific Islander voter turnout increased almost 46 percent in 2020
© Greg Nash

Turnout among Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters shot up nearly 46 percent in 2020 compared with 2016, according to new data released Thursday by the AAPI Victory Fund.

According to the data, compiled by Targetsmart, there was a 45.8 percent increase in turnout among Asian American Pacific Islander voters. Overall voter turnout in 2020 rose just 11.9 percent compared with 2016. 

Asian American Pacific Islander turnout rose the most in South Dakota, where it shot up nearly 120 percent. But the turnout also rise significantly in a number of key swing states. The number of Asian American Pacific Islander voters in Georgia increased by more than 80 percent and in Nevada by more than 60 percent. 

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In another sign of increased enthusiasm among the voting bloc, in the 48 states with vote history available, nearly 50 percent of Asian American Pacific Islander voters who cast ballots in 2020 did not vote in 2016, and 23 percent of them were first-time voters.

“What you’ll see is a growing presence and power of AAPI voters and the simple fact that AAPI voters are the secret weapon for progressives and here to stay,” AAPI Victory Fund President Varun Nikore said in a statement. “It’s time that AAPI’s get our due and are recognized as an integral piece of the Democratic coalition.

“Without AAPI voters, we would still be looking at another four years of Donald TrumpDonald TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? MORE and no Democratic senate. We will now look to harness our growing AAPI power with actions, advocacy, and policies that will completely change the political map as we know it. We're the fastest-growing group in the country, and it's time we start acting like it.” 

Asian American Pacific Islander turnout will be crucial for Democrats to maintain heading into the midterms given their growing numbers in several swing states. For instance, there are nearly 800,000 Asian American Pacific Islanders of voting age in Texas, which will host a slew of competitive House races in 2022, and more than 427,000 in Florida, a perennial battleground with competitive Senate and gubernatorial races next year.