Friday, February 23, 2024

GUEST BLOGGER SERIES:Latino and Asian “New American” Voters Were Forces of Change in ’08 Election

By:Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA)

Citizenship Oaths

The idea of the American dream is a simple one–work hard, sacrifice for your family, and provide your children with more opportunities than your parents were able to leave you. As a third generation, or “sansei,” Japanese American, who went from toiling the strawberry fields of California to walking the Halls of Congress, I have experienced the American dream in a very deep and personal way.

This presidential election reminded America of the power of our diversity and the value of every person, whether he spent his childhood in Mexico, or she came from the suburbs of Illinois, or he was the son of a Kenyan goat herder. The Democratic Presidential Primaries and the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States will be forever remembered as a time when our diverse nation came together to bring about the change our country needs.

Initial findings show that “New American” voters—naturalized American citizens or children of immigrants born in the US since 1965—overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in the 2008 Presidential Election. The Immigration Policy Center (IPC) found in its preliminary analysis that Latino New American voters
were essential to President-Elect Obama’s victories in such swing states as Indiana and North Carolina. According IPC’s findings, Obama’s roughly 26,000 vote victory over Sen. McCain in Indiana was largely made possible by Obama receiving 24,000 more Latino New American votes than McCain.

Furthermore, Asian New American voters became a focus of the Obama campaign, with the campaign releasing its “Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Blueprint for Change,” the most comprehensive position paper a presidential candidate has ever assembled for the AAPI community. The efforts paid off, as CNN exit polls show 63% of Asian Americans supported Obama nationally.

The support of New American voters for Barack Obama and the Democratic Party makes sense. Obama is the son of an immigrant father, spent part of his childhood overseas, and was raised by a hardworking mother and middle-class grandparents who constantly promoted sacrifice and the value of education. New American voters from all races connected with our party’s first African-American presidential nominee and ultimately connected with the Democratic Party itself.

The Democratic Party showed itself to have the priorities of New American voters–a strong economy at home, a restored image abroad, an education system that allows every child to realize his or her potential, and a healthcare system that works for all Americans, particularly for our seniors. Above all, this year President-Elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Party proved that the American dream endures in the 21st century.

Congressman Mike Honda has represented California’s 15th Congressional District since 2000. Honda is a Senior Democratic Whip, Chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and Vice-Chair of the Democratic National Committee. Honda currently serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

We would like to thank Congressman Honda for sharing with our readers his perspective on this historical election.