SAN FRANCISCO – The recently released poll conducted by the National Asian American Survey (Naas) revealed that “among likely voters, 43% of Asian Americans support Barack Obama while 24% support Mitt Romney.” The same poll disclosed that “in a significant shift from prior surveys, Filipinos who identify as Republicans outnumber those who identify as Democrats. Indeed, a larger proportion of Filipinos now identify with the Republican Party than any Asian American group” surpassing Vietnamese Americans who were previously the staunchest Republicans.
According to the Naas survey, 24% of the FilAms polled said they were registered Democrats while 27% identified themselves as registered Republicans with 45% claiming to be independent or non-partisan. The poll survey of FilAms showed that 33% were leaning towards Obama and 39% towards Romney.
The survey report was based on “data collected from 3,034 telephone interviews of adults in the United States who identify themselves as Asian American.” Of this number, 396 Filipinos were interviewed for this survey.
One limitation of the Naas survey is that it was based entirely on “telephone interviews” which means that only those who are home and available to answer the telephone got polled. Most young people (below 40) now rely on their cell phones for communication, not on telephones.
There is a generational divide in the voting preferences of Filipino Americans. Younger FilAms, for example, have more regular contact with gay friends and are more open and supportive of same sex marriage than older Filipino Americans who oppose the very notion of gay rights. Younger FilAm women believe that they have the right to decide what is best for their bodies while the older generation may readily defer to the teachings of the Church.
Younger FilAms have African American friends and are freely comfortable with them and appreciate the fact that Obama was born and raised in Hawaii with Filipino friends and classmates. Older Filipinos still carry subliminal racial baggage in their assessment of Pres. Obama and are susceptible to the “birther” propaganda being spread by extreme conservatives that Obama is a Muslim who was born in Kenya.
Many young FilAms have friends who were brought to the US by their parents and who are out of status and subject to deportation. They know that Pres. Obama supported the Dream Act to legalize their status but that it was defeated by the filibustering Republicans in the Senate. They appreciate the fact that Pres. Obama signed an Executive Order extending “Deferred Action to Childhood Arrivals” (Daca) which would provide them with legal status. One local San Francisco FilAm newspaper estimated In its banner headline that as many as 500,000 Filipino kids would benefit from Daca.
The anecdotal data would strongly suggest that most young FilAms support the liberal Barack Obama while most older FilAms support the self-described “severe conservative” Mitt Romney.
Even among older FilAms, there is a distinction in their voting preference. FilAm physicians overwhelmingly vote Republican because of fear that Obamacare would cause a drop in their income and a rise in their taxes. That same fear about an increase in their taxes drive many FilAm business owners to vote Republican even though 97% of business owners earn less than $250,000 and have received tax cuts under Pres. Obama.
Older FilAms who are veterans or who rely on social security support Democrats because it was the Democratic Party that championed the Filipino Veterans Equity Bill which was signed into law by Pres. Obama soon after he took office in 2009. FilAm seniors relying on social security remember what Romney said of them in a $50,000 a plate fundraiser for his campaign in Boca Raton, Florida last May:
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it — that that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. … These are people who pay no income tax. … [M]y job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Filipino seniors see themselves as part of the “47%” referred to by Romney who are “dependent upon government” and who believe they are “entitled to health care, to food, to housing”. Romney intends to cut their “entitlements” from the federal budget by transferring responsibility for them to the states but without providing the states with block grants to cover the costs. So they will be severely limited, if not eliminated.
Romney has adopted the Ryan Plan, authored in Congress by his VP candidate Paul Ryan, which Ryan described in 2009 as “converting Medicare into a defined contribution sort of voucher system.” Instead of Medicare, seniors would be given vouchers totaling about a maximum of $6400 a year. If the $6400 is used up for the year, Romney believes they can always rely on the emergency rooms of hospitals.
In an interview with The Columbus Dispatch last month, Romney asserted that nobody in America dies because he or she is uninsured: “We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance.” Romney assured that emergency rooms provide essential health care to the uninsured.
This claim was refuted by Nobel Prize Economist Paul Krugman who pointed out that “going to the emergency room when you’re very sick is no substitute for regular care, especially if you have chronic health problems. When such problems are left untreated — as they often are among uninsured Americans — a trip to the emergency room can all too easily come too late to save a life. So the reality, to which Mr. Romney is somehow blind, is that many people in America really do die every year because they don’t have health insurance.”
Even though the author of the Ryan Plan is a Catholic, his plan was roundly condemned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for “failing to meet society’s moral obligations to feed the hungry children, poor families and vulnerable seniors.”
“At a time when the need for assistance from affordable housing programs is growing,” Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California wrote, “cutting funds for them could cause thousands of individuals and families to lose their housing and worsen the hardship of thousands more in need of affordable housing.”
The increase in the number of FilAms identifying themselves as Republicans in the Naas poll may be attributable to the faltering economy which Republicans blame on Obama. But economists agree that the decline in the US economy began under Pres. George W. Bush because of the two wars he plunged the US into, the Bush Tax cuts which reduced revenue for the government, and the deregulation of Wall Street which virtually collapsed the US economy.
In his speech at the Democratic National Convention last month, former Pres. Bill Clinton said: “Since 1961, for 52 years now, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what’s the job score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million.” This fact was verified by CNN.
FilAm Democrats believe that Pres. Obama is on the right track with the US economy moving forward with 5.3 million new jobs added since he took office. Romney claims that he can do better although he wrote a Wall Street Journal piece in 2009 advocating that the US should “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” which would have caused the loss of more than a million jobs in the car industry in the US.
Vice-President Joe Biden summed up the case for Democrats by saying that thanks to Pres. Obama, “General Motors is alive and Osama bin Laden is dead.”
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