Asian American voters are flexing their political muscle in the Georgia Senate runoff

Georgia vote
The Georgia State Capitol building in Atlanta, Ga., is seen behind a "Vote" sign on November 9, 2022, a day after the midterm elections.SETH HERALD/AFP via Getty Images
  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders represent one of the fastest-growing voting blocs in Georgia.

  • Both the Warnock and Walker campaigns have courted this crucial bloc ahead of the Senate runoff.

  • Democratic and GOP groups in recent years have stepped up their engagement efforts with AAPI voters.

In pivotal Georgia, where competitive statewide elections have become the norm in recent years, every vote matters.

For Asian American and Pacific Islander voters, whose political influence in Georgia has grown exponentially over the last decade, the December 6 Senate runoff between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker is one more step in their community's transformation into a major electoral force in the Southern swing state.

In a Politico report detailing how Asian Americans are being courted intently by both the Warnock and Walker campaigns in advance of the runoff, AAPI Victory Fund founder and chairman Shekar Narasimhan emphasized that the community needed to hear appeals directly from the candidates, pointing to the need for strong voter engagement efforts.

"Our community needs to hear directly from leaders and from the candidate saying, 'We have a real message of change that's positive,'" Narasimhan told Politico. "And we think by doing what we're doing and continuously doing it, we're giving that message to them."

Ballots cast by Asian American voters rose dramatically from 2016 to 2020, from 73,000 votes to 134,000 votes, respectively, according to the Democratic polling data firm TargetSmart.

The 61,000-vote increase is greater than the roughly 12,000-vote margin that allowed now-President Joe Biden to carry Georgia in the 2020 presidential election, which made him the first Democratic presidential nominee to win the state since 1992.

It is also greater than the roughly 37,000-vote lead that Warnock held over Walker in the November general election. (The Senate race is headed to a runoff as no candidate hit at least 50% of the vote as mandated by state law.)

Per CNN exit polling from the November general election, Warnock won Asian American voters by 20 points over Walker (59%-39%).

However, Republicans are not ceding any ground in their efforts to appeal to the fast-growing voting bloc.

The Republican National Committee last year opened an Asian Pacific American community center in Gwinnett County, a suburban Atlanta locality that boasts a large Asian community.

And newly-reelected Gov. Brian Kemp cultivated relationships with Asian American voters during his successful campaign. While Democrat Stacey Abrams won the group's vote, per CNN exit polling, she only outran Kemp by 8 points (54%-46%), posting a stronger showing than Walker in the general election contest.

"We're the only demographic group that keeps going up," Georgia state Sen.-elect Nabilah Islam told Politico. "So I'm confident that we're going to be a huge voting bloc that will help deliver a win for Sen. Raphael Warnock."

Read the original article on Business Insider