UCR Political Scientist Offers Expertise on Asian Americans and Politics

Karthick Ramakrishnan is available to discuss political influence of Asians and Asian Americans.

Painting of bird flying over ocean

"Blue Ocean," by Tadashi Ikai, 2005/Courtesy Asian-Pacific Heritage Month

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — With the release today of a political poll conducted for the  Asian American Justice Center and a Wednesday forum (May 2) by the Census Bureau on the Asian population, UC Riverside political scientist Karthick Ramakrishnan is available to discuss how America’s fastest-growing racial group may influence local, state and national elections.

These two national events coincide with the beginning of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, which celebrates Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The monthlong celebration originated in a 1977 House resolution calling for a weeklong observance and was extended to one month and signed into law in 1992. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the completion of the transcontinental railroad — built largely by Chinese immigrants — on May 10, 1869.

Karthick Ramakrishnan

Karthick Ramakrishnan

Ramakrishnan, who currently is a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C., can comment on issues involving the Asian-American vote in some key states for the presidential and Senate races, including Virginia, Nevada and Florida. He also can comment generally on Asian-American policy priorities based on the only nationally representative survey of Asian-American voters done so far.

That groundbreaking, multilingual survey — which Ramakrishnan conducted in 2008 with researchers Janelle Wong of the University of Southern California, Taeku Lee of UC Berkeley and Jane Junn of the University of Southern California — examined the  political beliefs and behavior of more than 5,000 Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, and Japanese-Americans.

The results were the basis of a book the researchers co-authored last year, “Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and Their Political Identities” (Russell Sage Foundation, 2011).

That survey found that while numbering more than 15 million people — and the fastest-growing racial group in the United States — Asian-Americans continue to be overlooked as a growing political constituency.

Ramakrishnan will lead a new survey of Asian Americans this summer, funded in part by a $150,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation and a $75,000 grant from the Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Fund. The results will be announced in mid September.

Ramakrishnan can be reached at karthick@ucr.edu or karthick.ramakrishnan@wilsoncenter.org, (202) 691-4080.

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