Why did Asian Americans vote almost 3 to 1 for Obama?

I got a little sidetracked from my work today and ended up reading a variety of articles, studies, and columns about the overwhelming support by Asian Americans for Barack Obama in the 2012 election.

Obama got 73 percent of the Asian American vote — better than he did among Latinos. That margin was in keeping with a long-term trend that flies in the face of conventional wisdom. Asian Americans are better educated, higher paid, and more entrepreneurial than any other ethnic group; in theory, many more of them should be open to Republican messages on the economy.

My reading ended up at the excellent political science blog, The Monkey Cage. From Asian Americans Voted Democrat: We Should Not Be Surprised by Karthick Ramakrishnan (emphasis added):

Why are Asian Americans so Democratic, and why aren’t we seeing more Republicans, especially among the millions of Asian Americans who are high earners?

We provided some answers in a recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, where we largely draw attention to actions by the Clinton administration in the 1990s that appealed to Asian American voters, and subsequent “push” factors by a vocal set of Republican officials that portrayed a party as exclusionary on religion and strictly conservative on immigration. We also show, relying on our 2008 and 2012 data, that the Obama administration enacted policies on issues such as health care, education, and the Iraq War that had overwhelming support among Asian Americans. He also appointed a record number of Asian Americans, from Cabinet positions to the World Bank, and even his judicial nominations of people like Goodwin Liu received widespread attention and support among Asian American organizations and news media. Thus, a variety of “push” and “pull” factors on the Republican and Democratic sides, respectively, help explain the dramatic shift in Asian American voters over the last 20 years.

[…]Our 2012 survey shows that Asian Americans support increasing taxes to help reduce the federal deficit, and a Pew survey from early 2012 indicated that Asian Americans prefer a bigger government that provides more services to a smaller government providing fewer services (55% to 36%, respectively), almost the mirror opposite to the U.S. average (39% vs. 52%, respectively).

Take a look at this remarkable shift:

Some other voices:

Menzie Chin of Econbrowser argues that key values of Chinese Americans include pragmatism pragmatism “and a belief in progress by way of science and technology.”

Kathleen Geier argues in Washington Monthly that the “push” factors have run pretty deep:

Personally, I believe that the “push” factors may have gone deeper than we will ever know. During the past four years especially, Asian Americans, like every other nonwhite group in America, clearly received the overwhelming message from Republicans that: “You’re not welcome here. You don’t belong.” It stung.

David Brooks from The Party of Work:

The Pew Research Center does excellent research on Asian-American and Hispanic values. Two findings jump out. First, people in these groups have an awesome commitment to work. By most measures, members of these groups value industriousness more than whites.

Second, they are also tremendously appreciative of government. In survey after survey, they embrace the idea that some government programs can incite hard work, not undermine it; enhance opportunity, not crush it.

Moreover, when they look at the things that undermine the work ethic and threaten their chances to succeed, it’s often not government. It’s a modern economy in which you can work more productively, but your wages still don’t rise. It’s a bloated financial sector that just sent the world into turmoil. It’s a university system that is indispensable but unaffordable. It’s chaotic neighborhoods that can’t be cured by withdrawing government programs.

For these people, the Republican equation is irrelevant.

On his blog, Paul Krugman notes that Asian Americans, Latinos, and Jews voted Democratic in about the same percentages that southern whites voted Republican.

Conservative author Charles Murray from the American Enterprise Institute:

And yet something has happened to define conservatism in the minds of Asians as deeply unattractive, despite all the reasons that should naturally lead them to vote for a party that is identified with liberty, opportunity to get ahead, and economic growth. I propose that the explanation is simple. Those are not the themes that define the Republican Party in the public mind. Republicans are seen by Asians—as they are by Latinos, blacks, and some large proportion of whites—as the party of Bible-thumping, anti-gay, anti-abortion creationists.