2012 was a banner year for Asian American candidates for national office—30 ran for office, of whom 14 were elected, compared to only 10 in 2010. First-time Asian American Members of Congress from their respective states are Chinese American Grace Meng (NY) and Thai American Tammy Duckworth (IL). Senator-elect Mazie Hirono is the first foreign-born Asian woman Senator and the first female Senator from Hawaii. Indian American Ami Bera (CA) won a close Congressional election. The Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies also notes the election to Congress of the first Hindu American, Tulsi Gabbard (HI), and the first openly gay minority, Japanese American Mark Takano (CA). In addition, all eight current Asian American Members of Congress were re-elected.
The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) has published preliminary results from exit polls in Nevada and Virginia, both battleground states. AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung said, “In Virginia and Nevada, Asian American voters played a decisive role in the U.S. Senate races. The lesson from our exit polls is that political parties can no longer afford to
ignore Asian Americans as a demographic.” Soon to be released are results from ALDEF exit polls in 14 states with large Asian American populations: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington DC.