Posted on May 7, 2020

Asian Americans Are the Fastest-growing Racial or Ethnic Group in the U.S. Electorate

Abby Budiman, Pew Research, May 7, 2020

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing segment of eligible voters out of the major racial and ethnic groups in the United States. More than 11 million will be able to vote this year, making up nearly 5% of the nation’s eligible voters (for this analysis, U.S. citizens ages 18 and older). They are also the only major racial or ethnic group in which naturalized citizens – rather than the U.S. born – make up a majority of eligible voters, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

From 2000 to 2020, the number of Asian American eligible voters more than doubled, growing by 139%. The Hispanic electorate grew at a similar rate (121%), but the black and white electorates grew far more slowly (33% and 7%).

Naturalized immigrants have driven the Asian electorate’s rapid growth. (When an immigrant naturalizes and becomes a U.S. citizen, they are eligible to vote in federal elections.) Between 2000 and 2018 – the most recent year available – the number of Asian immigrant eligible voters doubled from 3.3 million to 6.9 million. As of 2018, naturalized citizens accounted for about two-thirds of all U.S. Asian eligible voters.


{snip} Just six origin groups – Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese – account for the majority of U.S. Asian voters. This pattern closely mirrors the Asian American population as a whole: The same six origin groups make up 85% of all U.S. Asians.

{snip} Vietnamese Americans are more likely than Asian Americans overall to identify as Republican (42% vs. 28%). By contrast, Indian Americans are the most likely to be Democrats of any Asian origin group, with 50% identifying as Democrats and just 18% as Republican.

Asian American eligible voters are dispersed throughout the country, but more than half live in only three states. California alone holds 35% of the U.S. Asian electorate (3.6 million). The state with the second-most Asian American eligible voters is New York (920,000), followed by Texas (698,000).

Meanwhile, only in Hawaii do Asian Americans account for a larger share of eligible voters than any racial or ethnic group. They make up 38% of the state’s eligible voters, by far the highest share in the country. California has the next highest share with 14%.


U.S. Asian eligible voters stand out from those in other racial and ethnic groups in a number of ways. About seven-in-ten (71%) report speaking only English at home or say they speak English “very well” – lower than the share who say this among Hispanic (80%), black (98%) and white (99%) eligible voters.


U.S. Asian eligible voters have an annual median household income of $105,000, the highest of any racial or ethnic group. {snip}

Among Asian American origin groups, U.S. Indian eligible voters ($139,000) have the highest median household income, while Burmese Americans ($69,000) have the lowest.