Landmark study also found that AAPI women report turning out to vote higher than national turnout rate

For Immediate Release
April 14, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) released a landmark survey that uncovers the priorities and perspectives of Asian American and Pacific Islander women, communities that have largely been under studied. One of the key findings of the wide-ranging research project was that 8 in 10 AAPI women want their elected officials to better understand how their perspectives differ from other communities.

Despite being one of the fastest growing electorates in the United States, the AAPI community has historically been one of the most understudied racial groups in the country. This lack of data has perpetuated the harmful model minority myth that paints Asian Americans as inherently successful – rendering the struggles and realities of the diverse AAPI community invisible. 

NAPAWF’s landmark study revealed that these long standing concerns are at the forefront of the AAPI community. Overwhelmingly, AAPI women want their elected officials to understand there is diversity within the AAPI community (85%) and how their values and priorities might different from white women (82%). This understanding of intersectionality is especially important to younger AAPI women (86%) as Asian women have historically been susceptible to race-based sexual and physical violence

The polling also revealed how AAPI women are mobilizing a powerful voting bloc. In NAPAWF’s poll, AAPI women report turning out for the 2020 presidential election at historic rates (69%) much higher than the national turnout rate, many of them first-time voters (16%) taking advantage of mail-in voting. States such as Texas (19%), Florida (14%) and Georgia (13%) also saw increases in first-time AAPI women voters. More than half also reported voting early by mail or ballot drop box (59%) during the 2020 elections.

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum Executive Director Sung Yeon Choimorrow issued the following statement:

“Asian American and Pacific Islander women are experiencing a new level of visibility but as targets of harassment and violence. We need to flip this around. We need to be seen beyond the stereotypes. We are not a monolith. We are not your model minority.  AAPI women demonstrated that we have the power to shape and influence elections and it’s long overdue for people to not only recognize our values and priorities, but also our diversity within the AAPI community. 

“NAPAWF’s poll is the largest survey of AAPI women ever conducted. We demand to be seen and our needs and concerns heard. NAPAWF is committed to ensuring AAPI women have a strong voice in our country and will work to address the issues and barriers millions of us face every single day until we do.”

In March, NAPAWF also released a portion of the poll results about AAPI women’s experiences with racism in the United States. NAPAWF’s poll found that 78 percent of AAPI women had been affected by anti-Asian racism in the past two years and that more than half had personally encountered specific incidences of racism (55 percent).  The data also revealed how AAPI women’s experiences with racism impacts their policy priorities – nearly seven-in-ten AAPI women consider improving protections for immigrants from violence a top priority (69 percent).

The key findings from the nationwide poll include:

  • AAPI women were more motivated to vote in the 2020 election. 

    • 7-in-10 AAPI women voted for Biden, with a majority voting for Biden as opposed to a reaction against Trump. 

    • The 2020 election saw a surge in new AAPI women voters—one-in-six voters (16%) report voting for the first time. AAPI women in Texas (19%), multilingual women (20%), and lower-income women (22%) are more likely to report being first-time voters.

    • Two-thirds of AAPI women from Georgia reported voting in the U.S. Senate race in November, 75% reported voting in the January runoffs.

    • New state limits on voting would impact AAPI women turning out to vote. In the general election 59 percent of AAPI women nationally reported voting early by mail or ballot box, 19 percent in person and early and 5 percent by absentee – which would be impacted by laws like those in Georgia and Texas.

    • AAPI women were motivated for many reasons, Trump was part of it, but also COVID, the economy, reproductive rights and health, immigrant rights, and fighting racial inequality were additional factors.

  • AAPI women’s perspectives on candidates. 

    • 84 percent of AAPI women want to see more women running for office and 86 percent would like to see more AAPI represented in government and running for office. 

    • More than 8-in-10 AAPI women expect elected officials to understand there are differences between AAPI people and between white and AAPI women.

    • AAPI women are motivated to vote by having a candidate on the ballot who excites them (41%), confident their vote could make a difference (35%) and if voting were made easier (34%).

  • AAPI women experiences with racism, sexism,  and violence: 

    • 78 percent of AAPI women had been affected by anti-Asian racism in the past two years and that more than half had personally encountered specific incidences of racism (55%). 

    • Nearly seven-in-ten AAPI women consider improving protections for immigrants from violence a top priority (69%). 

    • Notably, AAPI women in Georgia reported experiencing instances of racism at much higher rates than nationally. Two-thirds of AAPI-Georgians reported experiencing a racist encounter in recent years and were specifically more likely to report violence (17%) or discrimination in the housing market (11%) because of their race or gender.

    • The most common instances of self-reported anti-Asian racism are being called a racial slur (28%), feeling unsafe walking around outside (26%), and experiencing discrimination or harassment at work (18%).

  • Issue priorities for AAPI women: 

    • 3 of the 4 top issues for AAPI women – both overall and among almost every demographic group –  center on health care. Protections for those with pre-existing conditions and ensuring everyone has access being the top two.

    • Ending racial and gender discrimination is also a very serious concern for AAPI women.

    • The top issues that AAPI women want to see the federal government address are: COVID-19; the economy; health care costs; jobs/unemployment; and, climate change/the environment. 

    •  30 percent say their mental health suffered because of COVID, 18 percent say a close family member or friend died and 17 percent say they lost their job or a member of their household lost their job. 

  • Reproductive rights and health: 

    • Ensuring women have the authority to make decisions about their bodies and having access to affordable birth control are among the top tier issue priorities for AAPI women. 

    • 61 percent of AAPI women support abortion access in all or most cases. The strongest support for abortion access comes from East Asian Americans. 

    • 8-in-10 AAPI women feel having control over their reproduction produces more positive family outcomes.

The poll, which was conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of NAPAWF, to our knowledge it is the largest survey of AAPI women ever conducted. The study interviewed over 3,537 adult AAPI-American women across the nation on a fully representative sample, allowing for a deep analysis of key demographics. Respondents either self-identified as Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) or of any ethnicity/national origin recognized in the Asian race category by the U.S. Census Bureau. Interviews were conducted online and via telephone from February 1 to March 2, 2021, and respondents were given the option to complete the survey in English, Mandarin, Korean, or Vietnamese.

Further insights on the poll are available here. 


The National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) is the only multi-issue, progressive, community organizing and policy advocacy organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women and girls in the U.S. NAPAWF’s mission is to build collective power so that all AAPI women and girls can have full agency over our lives, our families, and our communities.

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S. tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963 that is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. We work with clients in three primary areas; building twenty-first-century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible. To learn more, please visit