Minority Versus Minority: Partisanship and Inter-Group Competitions Among Asian Americans

AuthorNathan Carrington,Dongshu Liu
Date01 March 2022
Published date01 March 2022
Subject MatterArticles
American Politics Research
2022, Vol. 50(2) 265276
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/1532673X211053218
Minority Versus Minority: Partisanship and
Inter-Group Competitions Among Asian
Dongshu Liu
and Nathan Carrington
Increasingly salient in democratic politics are the divides among political parti es regarding how they mobilize supports between
ethnic majorities and minorities. Why, then, do some members of a minority group support political parties that seem an-
tithetical to the interests of minority groups? We draw on group conict theory to suggest that a partial explanation rests on
perceived competition within minority groups. We test this theory by focusing on Republican Party support among Asian
Americans in the United States. Based on two representative surveys and an original online survey experiment of Asian
Americans, we demonstrate that perceived competition among racial minority groups has a signicant effect on the partisanship
of Asian American and pushes them toward the Republican Party. We also present observational evidence suggesting our
theory applies to other minority groups. Our ndings provide critical implications on how race affects politics in democracies
with increasingly diversied ethnic minority groups.
partisanship, ethnic politics, minorityminority competition, Asian American, group conicts
Ms. Wen, an Asian American in Virginia, campaigned tire-
lessly for President Trump during both the 2016 and 2020
elections. Noticeably, Ms. Wen, and many others like her,
represent a non-ignorable portion of Asian Americans rmly
supportive of Donald Trump and the Republican Party. The
2020 election saw an increase in Republican partisanship and
a decrease in Democratic partisanship among Asian Amer-
icans, despite Democratsconsistent endorsement of seem-
ingly pro-minority policies and their nominating an Asian
American woman to the vice presidency. The increase in
Republican support is particularly striking given the GOPs
China Virusrhetoric coinciding with an increase in hate
crimes against Asian Americans and GOP immigration
policies that make it challenging for Asian Americans
(particularly from India and China) to nd a pathway to
citizenship. Why, then, do a sizable portion of Asian
Americans support a party that seems antithetical to their
To those following American politics, the Democratic
Party is often regarded as the most attractive for minorities,
while the base of the Republican Party is usually believed to
be primarily white evangelical voters. This majorityminority
paradigm dominates the discussion and analysis of U.S.
politics, with an underlying assumption that minority groups
benet from the Democrats while the GOP benets white
However, this majorityminority paradigm is
only part of the story. Much mobilizing of Asian Americans
by the GOP in the 2020 election cycle targeted other minority
groups instead of speaking in terms of the majorityminority
paradigm. For example, California Proposition 16, which
sought to remove the ban on afrmative action for education
and employment, was cited by many Asian Americans in
explaining support for Trump, as they believe the proposition
privileged Latino and African Americans over Asian
We argue that this minorityminority paradigm
is an undertheorized and overlooked factor in determining the
partisanship of minority groups.
Studies focusing on political relations among minority
groups in the United States are overwhelmingly dominated by
the Blackwhite paradigm (McClain et al., 2006,2007).
Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong, KowloonTong,
Hong Kong
Department of Political Science, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, USA
Corresponding Author:
Dongshu Liu, Department of Public Policy, City University of Hong Kong,
Room B7502, Yueng Kin Man Academic Building, Tat Chee Avenue,
Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Email: dongshu.liu@cityu.edu.hk

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