Monday, March 06, 2023


In his widely read New York Times newsletter, David Leonhardt tells us that Asian-American voters shifted right in 2022, particularly in New York City. If you look at gubernatorial vote data compiled by Jason Kao of the Times, the shift is obvious:

However, it's not clear that shift was much more profound in Asian neighborhoods than it was in non-Asian neighborhoods -- the entire city shifted right:

Leonhardt doesn't include the second graphic in his newsletter. It shows up in a separate piece written by Kao.

But Leonhardt is right -- there's a big shift in the Asian neighborhoods. He mentions some possible reasons for the shift: the perception that Democrats weren't doing enough to combat rising crime and anti-Asian violence, and also Democratic support for proposals that would eliminate entrance exams for certain citywide high schools, which has led to some protests by Asians in the city.

But Leonhardt can't leave it at that. He has to bring in all his hobby horses and obsessions, so he can blame the Asian vote shift on history's greatest monsters: upper-middle-class white liberals.
Nationally, the rightward drift of Asian voters is connected to a new class divide in American politics. The Democratic Party, especially its liberal wing, has increasingly come to reflect the views of college-educated professionals....

To a growing number of working-class voters ... the newly upscale version of the party has become less appealing.....

Progressives supported extended Covid school closures — which were easier for white-collar parents to manage — and often excoriated people who favored a return to normal activities....

Then there are the debates over language. In the name of inclusion and respect, some progressives have argued that common terms such as “pregnant women,” “the poor” and “Latinos” are offensive. Many voters find these arguments befuddling and irrelevant to their everyday concerns.
Leonhardt offers no evidence whatsoever to link the Asian-American vote shift to these issues. He just presents this as if the linkage must be there.

There's just one problem: According to the statistics compiled by Jason Kao, there's one East Asian neighborhood -- Manhattan's Chinatown -- where Democrats continued to dominate (albeit by reduced margins), and it happens to be the poorest East Asian neighborhood in the city. The outer-borough neighborhoods that tilted to the GOP are more affluent.

Manhattan’s Chinatown differs from the satellite Chinatowns in Brooklyn and Queens.

It had a smaller shift rightward in the last governor’s election, and it remained more Democratic. This neighborhood also stands out from the other Chinese neighborhoods in its socioeconomic makeup.

All Chinese neighborhoods in New York have median incomes below the city’s average. But of all the residents across these neighborhoods, those in Manhattan are the poorest. Additionally, many of these residents’ families arrived in the country during earlier waves of immigration, allowing them to build up party loyalties over generations. The satellite Chinatowns in Queens and Brooklyn are home to more first-generation immigrants, and these areas have a much higher rate of voters registering with no party affiliation.

In New York, the last decade has seen members of this newer, relatively higher-income group of Chinese Americans align more often with Republican candidates....
So this wasn't the have-nots rejecting the snooty left-leaning haves. But hey, why should Leonhardt let the facts get in the way of a truly satisfying anti-liberal theory?

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