Mar 7 • 46M

Yiatin Chu on Why Asian Voters in NYC Are Shifting to the Right

The public school mom turned education activist says that Democrats have lost touch with the needs of their Asian constituents across a variety of issue areas.

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Matthew Thomas
Class politics in New York City.
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On Sunday, the New York Times published a deep dive into the voting patterns of Asian neighborhoods in New York City over the past fifteen years. Here’s what they found:

“In last year’s governor’s election, voters in Asian neighborhoods across New York City sharply increased their support for Republicans. Though these areas remained blue overall, they shifted to the right by 23 percentage points, compared with 2018, after more than a decade of reliably backing Democrats.

It was the largest electoral shift in Asian neighborhoods in the period from 2006 to 2022, the longest available span of election results by precinct.”

I encourage you to read the entire piece, which includes beautiful data visualizations prepared by its author, Jason Kao, a reporter in the graphics department. The findings are consistent with my own analysis of the governor’s race published back in January, which focused specifically on Queens. It’s always nice to see my conclusions validated in the paper of record, so I’m very pleased that Kao decided to cover this story in more detail. As to what inspired him, we can only speculate.

But why are Asian voters in New York City shifting to the right? To discuss this phenomenon, I spoke with Yiatin Chu, an education activist who went from being a Hillary Clinton supporter and MSNBC mom in 2016 to a surrogate for Lee Zeldin’s gubernatorial campaign in 2022. But before she was either of those things, Yiatin was an immigrant from Taiwan who came to the city when she was eight years old, not speaking a word of English. She later attended the Bronx High School of Science, studied economics at Boston University, built a successful career in marketing, and raised two children who themselves attended the city’s public schools. It was Yiatin’s experience as a public school parent that brought her into the fight over education policy, and ultimately, left her disillusioned with the Democratic Party. Today, that disillusion extends to several other issue areas, including public safety.

Naturally, I don’t share Yiatin’s views on every subject, though I do more or less agree with her when it comes to education. But it seems to me that many people on the left are reluctant to admit that this realignment is happening. To the extent that they do, they seek explanations for it from the same Democratic politicians and progressive activists who lost Asian voters’ trust in the first place. If you ask me, the left should pay more attention to what the voters themselves have to say about this subject, and I’m very grateful to Yiatin for agreeing to come on and share her perspective.

This also marks the return of the Vulgar Marxism interview series after an extended - and unexpected - hiatus. Normally, such interviews are exclusively available to the newsletter’s paying subscribers, but this one will be available for free to celebrate the series’ return. For access to the back catalog of interviews and to future audio content, please consider purchasing a paid subscription for just $5.60/month.