Asian Americans have been labeled as the "next sleeping giant" in American politics in key geopolitical states such as California, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Washington. 1 Much of this perception is fueled by the dramatic growth of Asian American communities in these and other states as a result of federal immigration reforms beginning in 1965. This section highlights the major areas of Asian American political participation and behavior that will likely determine whether Asian American politics will live up to this label. These include voter behavior and turnout in local, state, and federal elections as recently as the 2008 presidential election, their roles in multiracial and panethnic coalition-building, historical and contemporary social movements, and recent trajectories in local politics.
The partisanship of Asian American voters has traditionally been limited to the Democratic Party because of the predominantly working-class backgrounds of the early immigrants in the United States and the salient issues that matter to them. Recent scholarship has found an upswing of both Republican and independent voters in Asian American immigrants who have arrived since 1965 because of their higher socioeconomic statuses, immigrant experiences, and political ideologies. 2 As a result , the Asian American vote is seen as a potential racial voting bloc and subsequently a swing vote in states with large Asian American populations in a two-party system during important statewide elections, ranging from the state legislature to the U.S. presidency.