Many first-generation Asian-Americans have tended to vote Republican, particularly Vietnamese, but many of their children have moved toward the Democratic Party, because of issues like health care, immigration and education, said Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of public policy and political science at the University of California, Riverside. Until this year, younger Asian-Americans, like younger voters in most demographic groups, turned out in low numbers.
“What happened in Orange County has to be seen in the context of this being a high-turnout election,” said Mr. Ramakrishnan. “There is a big generational divide in terms of party identification. If this had been a typical midterm election, it would have been a more conservative older turnout that came out.”
“From all the evidence we can see so far it looks like Asian-Americans were part of the blue wave,” he said.
Ms. La, who grew up in the San Diego area and moved to Westminster six years ago, said the demonstration on Saturday took just 36 hours to organize — in a part of the world that was once known for being politically apathetic.
“The federal government and the issues that they are targeting has helped stir the mobilization — as well as the need for action in our community,” she said. “That’s the first time the Vietnamese community has come out to protest. A lot of things are changing.”
Mr. Ramakrishnan said Mr. Trump had made the situation markedly more difficult for Republicans. He suggested that had Mr. Trump had not engaged in “so much anti-immigrant rhetoric,” Young Kim, a Republican who was seeking to become the first Korean-American woman in Congress, would likely have won in her race against Mr. Cisneros.
“All she had to do was win white Republicans because turnout among Asians and Latinos would have been relatively low,” he said. “Trump made a difference. But it’s going to be really tough to get back to what the Republican Party looked like before Trump.”