WITH the 2016 presidential election a year away, the Republican National Committee (RNC) is expanding outreach efforts to a key demographic: Asian American millennials.
Through a six-week program called the Republican Leadership Initiative (RLI), volunteers will undergo “a series of extensive training workshops to equip Asian Pacific American grassroots community leaders across the country with the skills needed to work as professional field organizers and community engagers,” the RNC said, adding that it is open to all ages across the 50 states.
The RNC is already making a big recruiting push for millennials within the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, through a new video advertisement on YouTube, entitled “It’s Our Time.”
The 42-second video includes members of the diverse AAPI demographic, including two Filipino-Americans.
“It’s our time to stand up for American freedom,” the video says, featuring the bright faces of AAPI millennials. “Together our generation can achieve success, together we can restore our American dream and win in 2016.”
According to a 2014 survey, AAPI millennials’ biggest concern is healthcare and the Affordable Care Act, which beat out the economy by five points.
For the RNC, it’s “about connecting with Asian voters and forming a bond with the fast-growing community that could help them succeed in 2016,” according to a Fox Business article.
“Ever since 2013, we’ve been building relationships with the communities through our candidates. When they actively engage and build strong relationships with the community, Asian Americans come out to vote,” Ninio Fetalvo, press secretary for Asian American and Pacific Islander media for the RNC, told the outlet.
In recent months, Republican candidates have made headlines for controversial comments about the Asian American community, including Donald Trump poking fun at Chinese business partners for broken English and Mike Huckabee’s North Korean joke directed at Senator Bernie Sanders.
However, the RNC is seeking to detach itself from the candidates’ comments by grooming the party’s next generation of leaders.
“The RNC’s focus is to engage the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in a real way, and it is up to the voters to pick the nominee out of our pool of candidates, who set their own agenda and messaging for their respective candidates,” said Fetalvo, according to Fox Business.
The increase in outreach efforts comes after Asians leaned more to the right in the 2014 midterm elections, despite historically supporting Democrats. A 2014 survey from Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote shows that Asian Americans are less likely to formally align with a political party; nearly half identify as Independent, while 27 percent of millennials in the demographic marked ‘undecided.’
A study earlier this year by the University of California, Los Angeles and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies revealed that the Asian American electorate is expected to double by 2040, amounting to nearly 7 percent or 1 in 15 registered voters.
“Not only will Asian Americans be a politically influential voting bloc in select areas in the United States, they have the potential to be the margin of victory in critical swing votes during the next six presidential election cycles,” the study’s authors wrote.
Further, Asians are slated to become the largest ethnic group in the United States, surpassing Hispanics, by 2055. The group will comprise 38 percent of the foreign-born population by 2065.