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Korean Americans and the 2012 U.S. Presidential Elections
Published January 24, 2013
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The 2012 electi on saw the rising prominence of Korean Americans as an increasingly visible force in U.S. politi cs. This paper discusses key features of the Korean American vote, using data from the 2012 National Asian American Survey. First, of those who favored a presidenti al candidate, Korean Americans were parti al to Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a nearly three-to-one margin. At the same ti me, nearly 40 percent of registered voters were undecided, even in the last weeks of the campaign. The paper further examines, among those who had a preference between Obama and Romney, the basis of this preference. The analysis fi nds three pivotal elements: whether Korean Americans identi fy as a Democrat or Republican or chose to remain non-parti san; President Obama’s high candidate favorability among Korean Americans; and the electoral salience of policy issues like health care, immigrati on, the budget defi cit, and U.S.-Korea free trade, issues on which Korean Americans were parti al to the President’s positi ons. The future of the Korean American vote – whether they will further consolidate as Democrats or fi nd a home among Republicans in ensuing electi ons – will depend on party mobilizati on, the candidates they fi eld, and the issues they champion.

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