Friday, February 29, 2008

First-Time Vietnamese Voters Registering Democrat

California's Orange County Vietnamese community, the largest in the country, has been a reliably Republican stronghold since the late-1970s.

But as this morning's Los Angeles Times indicates, younger voters are showing less allegiance to the GOP:

Since they first began arriving in the U.S. after fleeing Vietnam's communist regime in the 1970s, Vietnamese immigrants -- much like the Cuban refugees who settled in Florida -- have developed a political profile that is almost monolithically Republican, identifying with the party's historic anti-Communist stance.

Now, after years in which they were eclipsed by their more dominant Republican counterparts, Vietnamese Democrats are beginning to emerge in Orange County, home to the nation's largest Vietnamese American community with a population of more than 150,000.

Republicans continue to outnumber Democrats nearly 2 to 1 in Little Saigon, and the vast majority of elected Vietnamese politicians are Republicans. Few political experts in either party expect that Tran will defeat his GOP rivals for the supervisor's seat.

But for the first time, registration of new Vietnamese voters as Democrats is outpacing Republicans in Orange County, and the number of newly registered Republicans has declined.

The widening political bandwidth is a sign of change in the Vietnamese American community, where the agenda -- once sharply and nearly exclusively focused on foreign affairs -- now includes domestic issues such as poverty, healthcare and Social Security.

"For so long, there has been a one-party monopoly in the Vietnamese community," said Kim Oanh Nguyen-Lam, who became the first Vietnamese Democrat elected in Orange County in 2004 as a Garden Grove school board member. "We Democrats are coming out of the shadow."
They've got a long way to go. Vietnamese GOP registration in the county is nearly double to that of Democrats.

Still, times are clearly changing. The power of anti-Communism is declining as a salient voting issue, and domestic concerns have increased in importance.

But like Cuban-Americans in Florida, California's Vietnamese-Americans are fiercely patriotic, and I'm skeptical that the Democratic Party will make inroads with the group's more traditional constituencies.


Anonymous said...

The reason more Vietnamese Americans are registering Democrats and don't care much for Communism is because the younger generation growing up in the States, have lived under the Clinton and Bush (or mostly anti-Bush) era. They assumed Clinton refers to prosperity and Bush to the Iraq War. They didn't dig deep into why and what values they and their parents truly hold dear.
I was first registered as a Dem, but quickly switch to GOP ever since the Gore/Kerry campaigns. Gore the backstabber (in regards to Clinton) and Kerry, the Vietnamese hater (ie. 1972 Congresional testimony, CSPAN) and gold digger. But even more with Obama, who's trying to turn America in a socialist country like certain europeans countries with massive spending and welfare, which will end up with massive tax raise (ie. TVA 21%, income tax 50%). So much for free healthcare in Europe.
Is this the end of America as we know it? If the Dems succeed, maybe. I will keep fighting for America, my adoptive country which love as my own country.