Bloc Voting, Polarization, and the Panethnic Hypothesis: The Case of Little Saigon


Christian Collet ( received his Ph.D. in political science, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA 92612-4694.


The extensive literature on racial bloc voting (RBV) and minority representation has given little attention to Asian Americans. This paper contributes by examining the behavior of Vietnamese Americans living in the Little Saigon enclave in Orange County, California. Matching surname-coded voter registration records and precinct level returns for state and municipal elections between 1998 and 2002, I find evidence of bloc voting and polarization in every race where a Vietnamese American candidate is pitted against a white candidate. Further, I find evidence of panethnic behavior: Vietnamese Americans consistently rank candidates of different Asian ethnicities as their candidates of choice. Coming in light of recent evidence suggesting that polarized voting is declining in some parts of the United States, the findings have theoretical and instrumental implications for Asian-American politics and the study of race and ethnicity.