Asian-Americans make big gains in 2012 election

Hirono said that one of her role models was Patsy Mink, a Japanese-American who went on to become the first minority woman in Congress.

"I know that Patsy's looking down on me and saying, 'You go girl!'" Hirono said. "She ran for Senate, she ran for president, she ran for mayor, she ran for governor. She lost all those races. Here's a model of a woman who did not give up. That's the model I have."

Thirty Asian-American candidates ran for national office this year — the largest number ever — up from 10 in 2010 and eight in 2008. Five new Asian-American and Pacific Islanders were elected, with one race in California still too close to call.

The Asian population was up everywhere in the U.S. throughout the past decade, but as always, California seems to lead the way in terms of the demographic's voter registration. Representing eight percent of the electorate, 1.4 million registered Asian-American voters live in California. In fact, Asian-American and Latino voters account for 90 percent of all new voters added to California’s rolls in the past two decades, said Mark DiCamillo, director of California's Field Poll.

  • Mazie Hirono

Although most of the talk about the United States' changing demographics and how they don't favor Republicans has concentrated on Latinos, the clout of Asian-Americans needs to be highlighted in the wake of Tuesday's general election.

For starters, President Obama took home 73 percent of the Asian vote, 11 percentage points better than his showing with that group in 2008, and 42 percent more than Bill Clinton received in 1992.

For all the discussion about Hispanics, the number of Asian-Americans in this country grew faster than them throughout the past decade. According to the Census Bureau, the number of Asian-Americans jumped from 11.9 million in 2000 to 17.3 million in 2010, a 46 percent growth rate.

On Tuesday, Hawaii elected Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono to the U.S. Senate, making her the first Asian elected to that body.

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