Organization | Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance (API PA) exists to build long-term power for APIs in Pennsylvania, by coordinating political, electoral, and legislative work to hold our elected officials accountable, engaging in culturally competent and linguistically accessible direct voter contact with our communities, and building solidarity with other aligned communities of color across the state.
While APIs are the fastest-growing demographic in the state, we are historically under-engaged by political institutions and organizations. In Pennsylvania, we have notable numbers in target State House and State Senate districts that are needed to ensure progressive state legislative majorities, as well as Congressional districts needed to ensure that the current House majority is maintained.
In addition, given that Pennsylvania is a winner-take-all state that went to Donald Trump by 44,000 votes in 2016, API turnout in Philadelphia and other population centers, even when they are not in nested target districts, will be key for both delivering Pennsylvania to the more progressive presidential candidate, and building a long-term statewide majority for crucial state races coming up in 2022.
Lastly, thanks to the pandemic moment we find ourselves in and the framing of the virus as Chinese, politicians are spending millions to shift blame from their own failures on Covid 19 towards China broadly, which is stoking orientalist, anti-Chinese, and anti-Asian sentiment. With API communities in the crosshairs of this debate, it is more critical than ever that the API voice and vote is empowered and mobilized. The fact that we see candidates and elected officials on both sides of the aisle engaging in this rhetoric only deepens the urgency of building independent political power for APIs, and API PA is committed to rising to that challenge
This 501c4 base-building organization, the first ever in Asian Pacific Islander communities in Pennsylvania, will work not just to elect candidates who will stand (and vote) with our communities, but will also engage in multi-modal strategies to advance the cause of building Asian, immigrant, and refugee political power in Pennsylvania, including but not limited to running an API Legislative Agenda in Harrisburg and supporting pro-immigrant, pro-worker policies at all levels of government. API PA builds upon decades of deep organizing and leadership development in API communities and represents the next phase of API power building in Pennsylvania.
Context | Pennsylvania’s API population numbers at 511,002 with the five largest AAPI ethnic groups being Indian (155,887), Chinese (136,206) Vietnamese (49,306), Korean (47,480), Filipino (42,544). From 2012 to 2018, the number of eligible API voters in Pennsylvania grew 33%. This compares to a 1% growth rate for the state-wide eligible voting population between 2012 to 2018. In addition, these growth trends correlate strongly with where electoral victories and opportunities have presented themselves over the last few years, including but not limited to the Philadelphia suburbs, the Central PA/Capital region, and the Pittsburgh suburbs. At the same time, conservative and right-wing forces are attempting to make inroads with various API communities through stoking Cold-War era fears in Indian, Chinese, and Vietnamese communities. It is a critical time for API PA to take the lead and contest for this swing bloc.
Proposal | API PA will target South Asian (primarily Indian – Hindi, Pakistani – Urdu, and Bangladeshi – Bengali), Chinese (Mandarin), Vietnamese, and Korean voters. API PA proposes to run an organizing and electoral program focused on Philadelphia and the four collar counties (Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Bucks) to both deepen and electoralize current engagement of API communities in Philadelphia, and expand to build a long-term progressive base in the collar counties that will ensure a progressive legislative majority in years to come. This program will be run in a minimum of six languages and feature door, phone, mail, ethnic media, and digital persuasion and mobilization programs, working at all necessary levels of the ballot to ensure progressive victories.
Outcomes | During the next year, API PA aims to:
- Build awareness of API voters’ issue priorities and provide them with culturally and linguistically competent voter education
- Build coalition with other immigrant and people of color organizations with similar values and vision.
- Boost API turnout in Philadelphia to ensure a progressive presidential candidate wins PA
- Mobilize progressive API voters and persuade moderates to vote for a progressive in priority districts in the Philadelphia suburbs
- Conduct 4 passes on 55,000 phones for persuasion and mobilization in English, Bengali, Gujurati, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese)
- Send 430,000 in-language persuasion and mobilization mailers to AAPI households statewide
- Through message-tested persuasion, grasstops, & media programs, establish a progressive firewall in API communities to prevent the rise of right-wing influences
- Empower and uplift API voices in an election season which is turning on the demonization of and attacks against Asians and Asian Americans.
What we have achieved so far | Though we merely launched our program in mid-July 2020, we have already achieved the following:
- 163,000 calls to Asian American voters across Pennsylvania
- 866 Asian American volunteers recruited
- 3,220 Asian American voters in PA IDed as disapproving of Trump’s handling of COVID-19
- 3,472 progressive Asian American voters committed to vote by mail in November
- First-of-their-kind electoral organizing programs launched in PA’s South Asian, Vietnamese, Korean, and Chinese communities, operating across multiple levels and organizing tactics, including a scaled statewide relational organizing program, building political capacity that will last long past November
Funding Needs & Funding Gaps | We have been able to raise $445,000 towards our infrastructure, We are still raising funding for doing in-language digital ads and in-language mailers.
- Paid Phonebankers: $25,000 [140,000 persuasion and turnout calls to API voters, with support for up to 12 languages]
- In-Language Digital Ads: $300,000 [10,000,000 persuasion and turnout impressions on Facebook and Programmatic Display (Video, Static, OTT), in up to 4 languages]
- In-Language Mailers: $360,000 [5 flights of mail (3 persuasion, 2 GOTV) to 80,000 target API voters, in 4 languages]
- $50,000 [1 flight of persuasion mail, 1 flight of GOTV mail, to 30,000 target API voters, in 4 languages]
How to Donate | Please send a check marked for “API Political Alliance, care of Alix Webb” to 5010 Walton Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19143, or donate online at https://bit.ly/APIPADonate.
- FB and Twitter are both @apipennsylvania
- See our upcoming events here: https://bit.ly/APIPAEvents
Sign up to volunteer here:https://bit.ly/APIPASignup