• Kira Handel & Gracie Gordon

Asian American voters struggle with stereotypes and outreach in Nevada

Kira Handel and Gracie Gordon report on how “the model minority myth” affects the Asian-American community’s narrative, and why this demographic seems to get very little attention from mainstream media.

Caitlin Delim, 21, an Asian-American voter in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Asian-American Votes Count but Often Get Overlooked in Campaigns

Have you heard of the model minority myth? The model minority myth is a stereotype around minority groups that categorize them into a set “model.”

The model minority myth is a harmful narrative that describes Asian-Americans as “nerdy, rule-following, compliant, and held to a higher standard in education.”

Why is this harmful, especially when it comes to voting? When it comes to voting, politicians, organizations, and other individuals may not focus on the Asian-American vote because most Asian-American populations are in non-swing states, where politicians are most likely not to campaign. Due to the large population in states where most Asian-American communities are, their vote is often drowned out by other voter populations. But in swing states, such as Nevada, Asian-American votes matter.

This graphic shows key issues facing Asian-American voters, and some of the breakdown of their demographic.

Stereotypes and Language as a Barrier

Under the model minority myth, there is also a stereotype that Asian-Americans are neutral, and that they don’t vote. While Asian-Americans may not identify under a specific party, they still tend to indicate strong opinions on the matters at hand and relevant issues. In the decades ahead, Asian-Americans are projected to be the second fastest-growing racial or ethnic group and the fourth largest racial group in the U.S.

In voting, there is also a language barrier. In Latino communities, it is easy to reach out to a bigger crowd where they understand Spanish. However, the Asian communities may be harder to reach a bigger group because of the diversity of languages from Korean to Japanese and Chinese, etc.

There has been some outreach efforts to Asian-Americans as evidenced in article and Tweet above.

Different groups are making their own positions clear on social media.

A Crucial Vote in a Potential Swing State

So why is the Asian vote crucial in Nevada? The Asian-American vote is vital in swing states, such as Nevada, because 8.7% of Nevada’s population comprises the Asian-American population. While this percent may not seem like a lot, it’s enough to sway the state’s six electoral votes.

Jalyn Vickroy, an Asian American voter in Reno, Nevada, encourages fellow Asian-Americans to vote because “we are also American citizens and we have the right to just as much as anyone else in America.”

Asian-Americans now more than ever are becoming more involved in the elections. For the 2020 election, Asian Americans are forming together to campaign for their chosen candidate.

Caitlin Delim, an Asian American voter in Las Vegas, Nevada, talked about how the COVID-19 pandemic may have closed the door to incumbent Republican Donald Trump winning re-election.

“I know that there’s a huge uptick in specifically Filipino deaths due to COVID-19, as so many are working in the medical field,” she said. “We can prevent this from happening in the future because I think [Democratic candidate Joe] Biden takes COVID-19 way more seriously and that will hopefully positively affect the Asian community if he’s elected. Additionally, as a community of color, I think extending their care to fellow POC in a place of disadvantage is the least we can do if individuals feel like there’s no compelling pull to vote for themselves.”

“Asians are the fastest-growing population in Nevada and unfortunately, I feel like they’re underrepresented in the polls. It seems like there’s an air of complacency from the Asian American community at times because I think it’s common for Asians to want to assimilate to American culture and feel like they are not in a place of disadvantage enough to feel an urgency to vote. The Asian vote matters immensely since there’s such a big population of Asians in Nevada, integrated into the framework of this state,” Delim said.

Reporting by Kira Handel and Gracie Gordon for the Reynolds Sandbox

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