I've been reading a lot of learned explanations of why Asian support for the GOP suddenly collapsed between the 2008 Edison exit poll (35%) and the 2012 Edison exit poll (26%), such as Richard Posner's, Charles Murray's, and Razib's.
But, how sure are we that this drop-off really, fully happened? For example, if you haven an explanation for why the Asian vote swung sharply away from the Republican candidate in the 2012 poll, then why did the Other race vote swing almost as sharply toward the Republicans (up from 31% in 2008 to 38% in 2012)? And while you are at it, who are The Other anyway?
One common theory, for example, is that Asians were reacting negatively to all that Southern Protestant Jesus Talk coming from Romney and Ryan. Those Baptists really get on Asians' nerves.
Except that Romney and Ryan aren't Southern and aren't Protestant and tried hard to avoid talking about religion and only talk about marginal tax rates. Granted, the GOP has plenty of Southern Protestants (who presumably due to some oversight are still allowed to vote), but, then, Romney and Ryan apparently did quite a bit better with Jews in 2012 than McCain and Palin did. Maybe Palin reminded Jewish women of all those sexy shiksas they fear and loathe, while Ryan kind of looked like a nice Jewish boy?
Or, maybe, we shouldn't get too invested in explaining changes from 2008 to 2012 that might just be artifacts of limited sample sizes and other polling problems?
Exit polling is difficult to do exactly right because you have to choose ahead of time which tiny percentage of voting places you are going to send workers to. This makes for lumpy results.
Unfortunately, the Reuters-Ipsos online panel, which had a sample size of 41,000 voters, lumps Asians and Other together. This Other Minorities (Asians plus American Indians plus who knows what) category went 38% for Romney.
A third approach is to look at overall vote totals in heavily Asian communities. A commenter points to Orange County, CA, a traditionally Republican county with a lot of prosperous Asians who often register Republican:
By MARTIN WISCKOL
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Orange County's Asian American voters, led by Vietnamese Americans, are more likely to register as Republicans than Democrats. But party allegiance is loose and there are indications the demographic favored Barack Obama over Mitt Romney.
There were no extensive exit polls in Orange County, but the county's four cities with the highest proportion of Asian Americans all favored Obama – despite all four having more Republicans than Democrats. Irvine (39 percent Asian American) and Garden Grove (37 percent Asian) each gave Obama 53 percent of their vote. Westminster (47 percent Asian American) gave Obama 49.7 percent and Romney 48.2 percent – even though the GOP has an 8-point voter-registration advantage there. Tiny La Palma (48 percent Asian) favored Obama by half a percentage point.
Except for Tustin, all of the county's other 24 GOP cities voted for Romney. All six Democratic cities backed Obama.
This suggests New York-style voting among Orange Co. Asians: vote for Obama for the symbolism, vote against the Democrats for local, practical matters.
Unfortunately, this column doesn't look specifically at changes since 2008.
So, the entire topic remains one where I don't have anything very interesting to say, just to caution that we should be worried about overtheorizing.