COVID-19 and Asian Americans: How Social Exclusion Shapes Asian American Partisanship


Extending theories of social exclusion, we argue that Trump’s targeted rhetoric toward Asian Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic pushes the racial group, largely Independent or nonpartisan affiliated, to lean more towards the Democratic Party. This article supports this claim by combining social media and survey data analysis. Tracing more than one million tweets, we find that anti-Asian attitudes have increased in the U.S. since the pandemic and Trump’s rhetoric has popularized racially charged COVID-19 related terms. Drawing on a nationwide over time survey of n=12,907 Asian Americans from July to May 2020, we find that the the group has increased in favorability of the Democratic Party, favorability of the Democratic presidential nominee, and identified with this party more since Trump first made inflammatory remarks towards Asian Americans. Whites, Blacks, and Latina/os, on the other hand, exhibited little change in these Democratic Party-related attitudes. Our findings suggest that experiences with social exclusion further cement Asian Americans as Democrats, who are positioned to be consequential in the outcome of the 2020 election.