By David K. Yoo
LOS ANGELES (Dec. 6, 2011) — More Asian Pacific Americans hold public office in the United States than at any other time in U.S. history, a sign of the community’s growing engagement with the political process, according to a newly released political almanac published by UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center.
The 14th edition of the National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac, first published in 1976, contains information on all 3,000 current elected and appointed officials. It also analyzes political trends and makes electoral projections of the nation’s 17 million Asian Pacific Americans.
“The National Asian Pacific American Political Almanac is an invaluable guide to the historically large and diverse number of Asian American and Pacific Islander politicians and voters influencing the nation’s political landscape,” said David K. Yoo, director of the Asian American Studies Center and a professor of Asian American studies at UCLA.
Written by UCLA professor emeritus Don Nakanishi and Santa Clara University professor James Lai, two leading political scientists who specialize in Asian American politics, the almanac spotlights individuals who hold municipal, state and national office.
The list includes two state governors, three U.S. senators, 10 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, two Obama administration cabinet members, two California statewide elected officials, four members of the California State Supreme Court (including the chief justice) and three of the five members of the California State Board of Equalization. It also includes the majority of Hawaii’s Legislature, three California state senators, eight California Assembly members and 44 mayors of cities, including San Francisco, Oakland and Irvine.
In their political and electoral analysis, Nakanishi and Lai predict that Asian Pacific Americans will have a significant impact on the upcoming presidential election, with more than 4 million expected to cast ballots in 2012 — the largest number in the nation’s history. This would represent a 600,000-vote increase over the 2008 election, similar to the increase seen between the 2004 and 2008 elections.
Asian Pacific American voters are also expected to play decisive roles in the electoral-rich states of California, New York, Texas, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Virginia, Florida and Massachusetts, the authors say.
The UCLA Asian American Studies Center, founded in 1969, is dedicated to research, teaching, publications and other endeavors that enrich the understanding of the history, cultural heritage and experiences of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islander–Americans. The center is recognized today as the premier research and teaching institution in the field of Asian American studies. www.aasc.ucla.edu