Media Portrayals of Asian American Voters

By Ellen Moll, Michigan State University

As another presidential election cycle is underway in the United States, voters face, in addition to ad fatigue, mega-donors, and other absurdities of how the country currently elects its leaders, the news media’s increasing tendency to report on the “horse-race” aspects of elections. In addition to being a distraction from more substantial inquiry into the candidates’ positions, these horse-race analyses bear the added distinction of regularly reducing complex identities (ethnicity, gender, age, and others) into over-simplified, homogenized voting blocs. As election coverage intensifies, it will be valuable to look at media portrayals of Asian American voters in recent presidential elections; I will focus here primarily on mainstream news media outlets. Closer examination reveals that these portrayals are especially interesting in light of the way that Asian American citizenship historically has always been contested.

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