Conservatives may lose another talking point this week as poll results released Thursday reveal strong support by Asian-Americans in California for the use of race, sex and ethnicity in college admissions.
California was the first state to ban affirmative action in recruitment and admissions at its colleges and universities with Proposition 209 in 1996. In 2012, State Constitutional Amendment 5 sought to restore affirmative action in higher education. The measure passed the state Senate in January this year over Republican opposition. But after backlash from Asian-American activists, notably Chinese-Americans who voiced opposition through rallies, Chinese-language media campaigns and letter-writing, the amendment lost steam. It was pulled before the Assembly could debate it after state Sens. Ted W. Lieu, Carol Liu and Leland Yee -- all Asian-Americans -- withdrew their support.
The story reinforced what has become a widely accepted notion: That Asian-Americans largely oppose affirmative action.
But Thursday's poll, conducted by Field Research Corp. and commissioned by the National Asian American Survey, shows otherwise. The survey, based on interviews with 1,280 registered voters in the two weeks following Aug. 14, concludes 69 percent of Asian-American voters support affirmative action. Among Chinese-Americans, 60 percent support affirmative action, according to the survey.
Support for affirmative action among Asian-Americans spiked in 2012, before Amendment 5 influenced sentiments. The National Asian American Survey reported that in 2012, 80 percent of Asian-Americans supported affirmative action. Opposition hasn't wavered in the two years since, remaining at 13 percent, but the percentage who were uncertain about the issue grew.
Since Amendment 5's failure in March, lawmakers have continued to argue that California minority groups largely oppose college admissions based on race, sex and ethnicity. State Senate candidate Peter Kuo, according to Mintpress, said in May that Asian-Americans and other minority constituents with whom he's spoken “all have the same opinion in this."
"I ask them the same question, ‘Do you want affirmative action here?’ One hundred percent of them say ‘No.’ They don’t want government helping to get them where they want to go,” Kuo said.
Kuo has made the fight against Amendment 5 part of his campaign platform.
“We repealed it in 1996,” he told Mintpress. “Don’t bring it back.”