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Title: The New Democrats: On the Social Roots of Asian American Partisan Political Behavior
Authors: Raychaudhuri, Tanika
Advisors: Mendelberg, Tali
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: Asian American
Partisan preferences
Political behavior
Political socialization
Subjects: Political science
Asian American studies
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Asian Americans are increasingly voting for Democrats in national elections. High levels of Democratic support are notable because many Asian Americans are of high socioeconomic status, immigrated from communist countries, or identify as Evangelical – traits that typically correlate with Republican support. Why do Asian Americans support Democrats despite these conservative predispositions? My dissertation explores this question, advancing a theory of social transmission. I predict that Asian Americans, who experience little parental political influence, develop partisan orientations, in part, through the diffusion of political views from peers in local contexts. I test my theory and alternative explanations using national surveys, original interviews, a large panel survey, and an original experiment. Using national surveys, I find that living in Democratic counties predicts Democratic vote choice among Asian Americans and reduces the partisan gap in voting between Asian Americans and whites. These results hold accounting for alternative explanations and across self-selection tests. Qualitative interviews offer evidence of peer partisan influence, the mechanism underlying social transmission. The first generation discusses politics with other immigrants and their children grow up without much political conversation, making them open to influence from peers. Using a longitudinal survey of college students, I find that interacting with peers of a different race and participating in activities with racial minorities liberalize senior-year political views. These results control for freshman-year views and are larger among Asian Americans than whites. An experiment that provides a causal test of social transmission presented Asian American and white students with a pro-Democratic social media post, randomly varying whether the partisan message was contained in a news headline or an identical headline alongside comments attributed to a subset of their friends. Posts with messages attributed to friends have several null effects but some moderately-sized effects on partisan outcomes, relative to posts with similar messages in news headlines. As expected, treatment posts increased perceptions that Democrats are inclusive among Asian Americans and decreased ratings of Republicans among whites. These results have important implications as the American electorate becomes more diverse, offering evidence that a new explanation for immigrant political socialization contributes to Asian American partisan acquisition.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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