For the past decade, I have been involved in the selection of AAPI candidates from statewide campaigns to local school boards. He currently serves on the board of the Democratic Party of Maryland’s Asian American Pacific Islander Diversity Leadership Council. Asian Americans Mobilize, Organize, Vote and Empower (AAMOVE), Managing Partner of Fells Group.
Too often, post-election pundits don’t paint a rough brush as to why certain demographics did or didn’t turn out, and why they voted the way they did. I can’t stay. When one fails and the other fails, analysis centers on message, strategy, and outreach.
In Maryland, Asian American and Pacific Islander voters are too often viewed as a monolith. As a result, grassroots and media outreach are rarely comprehensive.
Deliberate AAPI outreach takes time and effort. Organizations working with candidates should work with community and business leaders across the AAPI spectrum to identify issues that are important to this highly diverse community. In some districts, it makes the difference.
This was certainly the case in the 9th Legislative District race, where Maryland Democrats were overjoyed with their historic victory. The district includes most of Howard County and parts of northern Montgomery County. His three House seats in districts are grouped into “sub-districts” 9A and 9B. For those of you who don’t know, he identifies 1 in 4 of her potential voters (18+) as Asian American or Pacific Islander in District 9. increase.
Democratic candidates for 9A delegates Natalie Ziegler and Chao Wu won, beating longtime Republican incumbent Trent Kittleman. Senator Katie Frye Hester and Rep. Courtney Watson (9B), representing the entire 9th District, were re-elected in a landslide victory. There is no doubt that AAPI voters played a key role in the outcome.
AAPIs have one of the fastest growing populations in Maryland, accounting for over 10% of the voting population in 13 congressional districts. In total, 33 delegates and her 13 senators represent these districts with sizable her AAPI population. Candidates who ignore this group do so at their own risk. Getting to this group requires nuances and the right message.
So here are some tips when considering your AAPI outreach strategy.
- Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are ethnically and politically diverse and have a unique history. Your outreach strategy should reflect that. One-size-fits-all messages don’t work.
- Go to where the media is consumed. Traditional outreach methods like Facebook and local media are not enough. AAPI consumes media through a variety of means, including social media channels like WeChat and hyperlocal in-language publications.
- Reach out to this community — even if this group represents a small percentage of your voters! The election will be won by a narrow margin. A recent poll found that more than half of AAPI voters have never been contacted by a political party.
- Ad translation is important, but it does not prevent candidates from reaching out to AAPI voters. Consistently the majority of her AAPI voters are either monolingual or bilingual in English. What matters is the message and the story. It should reflect the priorities of the community. In addition, most language ethnic media outlets will translate their ads for you when you purchase ad space.
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are among the fastest growing populations in the United States, having recorded record voter turnout in the last election cycle. Keep this in mind when planning your campaign outreach strategy.