Four years ago, Louie Tan Vital received an invitation from her 81-year old grandmother, an immigrant, to join a prayer rally for whom she hoped would be the next president of the United States, Donald Trump.
To be respectful, Vital attended, but she didn’t actively participate. “I was incredibly uncomfortable. And I remember talking to my grandmother later,” Vital told NBC News over Zoom from her home in Washington, D.C.
Vital, 25, identifies as a Democrat and considers herself a progressive activist, while her grandmother Estrella Pada Taong identifies as conservative and a Republican. She remembered asking her grandma for her views on Trump then and learning her grandma felt he’s religious and “a good Christian.” Vital said she chose not to respond further so as not to get too upset.
“My opinion is that he is not a religious man, nor would I say he conveys any traditionally Christian values, respecting women and family and all of that,” Vital said.
Like many immigrant groups, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders experience generational splits among voters. Vital, who was born in the United States, and her grandmother Taong, who was born in the Philippines, reflect these differences — some of which can be explained by their age and where they grew up.
Sixty-six percent of Asian Americans, 18 to 34 years old, would vote for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, compared to 20 percent of those more than 50 years old, according to the most recent Asian American Voter Survey.
“What we find is that, where Asian Americans live doesn’t make as much of a difference in terms of which party they identify with or who they’re going to vote for, as much as age and nativity,” according to Karthick Ramakrishnan, director of the Asian American Voter Survey and founder of AAPI Data.
Ramakrishnan said that younger voters identify more with the Democratic Party and as progressive on issues such as health care, the citizenship process, protecting the environment, gun control, abortion and in their support for the Black Lives Matter movement and having a heightened sensitivity to matters like racial discrimination whereas older voters tend to not be as progressive.
Ramakrishnan explains that while party affiliation and identity politics vary among different Asian American groups when comparing younger and older voters, younger voters still tend to be more progressive.
Organizing for ‘the exact opposite beliefs’
As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, conversations surrounding political beliefs and dissent with family could get difficult to navigate. Vital’s intergenerational Filipino American voting family found it’s more about understanding one another’s upbringings and life experiences than to center on disagreement.
“It’s interesting that I’m over here on this side of the country doing community organizing. I’m…