It has been said time and again that Filipinos, wherever they are, are one of the most political people in the world. Politics, especially Philippine Politics, is oftentimes viewed with the same interest and gusto as any television show or series. It has, simply, become part of our everyday life and preoccupation.
In a recent survey conducted by this author among Filipino - Americans regarding their political interests, affiliation, and participation in the on-going United States presidential elections, an interesting story can be seen from our brothers and sisters in the US. The two great American parties, the Democratic and Republican parties, have clear differences and idiosyncrasies as opposed to the blurred and oftentimes short-lived parties in our country. Most Americans tend to be affiliated with either party, and thus political contests are based on issues and substance, and not simply on charisma and popularity.
Generally, political theorists would classify Democrats as Liberal, while Republicans are Conservative. Democrats favor higher taxes for those who can afford it, while tax-cuts are a priority for Republicans. Democrats are mostly pro-choice, while Republicans are anti-abortion. Most democrats are open to same-sex marriage, while Republicans want marriage defined strictly as the union of a man and a woman. Democrats keep tabs on the economy, Republicans on morality. Most of the time, a politician's party is already obvious just by how he or she sees an issue.
Filipinos in the United States, whether natural born or naturalized, have already adopted many stands of their chosen political party. For instance, Filipino-Americans tend to be liberal about economic and moral issues, thus they are more likely to support the Democratic party than the Republican, with 57% identifying with the Democrats and 43% affiliated with Republicans. Majority of Filipino-Americans are also officially registered with their favored political party, with 62% registered Democrat and 80% Republican.
In terms of gender, while both female and male Filipinos are more likely to be Democratic, males have a more pronounced support for the democratic party at 67% as opposed to the females with only 57%.
Across ages, most young (38 below) Filipino-Americans are Democratic (75%), while middle aged Filipinos (39 - 59) are more likely to be Republican (60%). Older Filipino-Americans are strongly Democratic at 75%.
Filipino-Americans born in the United States are evenly split between their support of both Democratic and Republican parties. Immigrants, however, are more likely to support Democrats, at 67%. Among the immigrant Filipino-Americans, those who have stayed for 25 years or below are strongly Republican at 60%, while those who have stayed longer in the United States (more than 25 years) are all Democrats.
According to a 2004 survey, majority of Filipino-Americans in 2004 voted for George W. Bush, although more than 60% were Democrats. In this election year, and before the national conventions of both parties, more Filipino-Americans, at 63%, are supporting Hilary Clinton. 15% are supporting Barack Obama, while McCain has an 8% support base. 8% are undecided.
However, when asked who they think is likely to emerge as the next president of the United States, a whopping 92% said it would Hilary Clinton. Only a few, 8%, think that the most likely Republican standard bearer John McCain is going to become President.
Most Democratic Filipino-Americans, at 87%, are supporting Hilary Clinton's campaign, with Barack Obama getting only 13%. All Filipino-Americans Democrats believe Hilary Clinton will win in November.
Republican Filipino-Americans are more varied in their opinions, and are even supporting candidates outside their registered political party. 40% say that they are supporting Hilary Clinton; 20% are supporting Obama, and the remaining 40% are either for McCain or undecided. As to who is most likely to emerge President, 80% of Republican Filipino-Americans believe it is still going to be Hilary Clinton.
Male Filipino-Americans are split in the candidates they are supporting, although majority, at 50%, said they are supporting Clinton's candidacy. 33% of males are for Obama, while only 17% is supporting McCain. More than 83% of male Filipino-Americans believe Hilary Clinton will win in November. On the opposite spectrum, 86% of female Filipino-Americans are supporting Hilary Clinton, and are unanimous that Clinton will win the White House.
Young voters are most likely Clinton supporters, and are unanimous in predicting Hilary's victory. Clinton has lesser support from Middle aged Filipino-Americans (40%), but 80% of them also believe she will become president. Older Filipino-Americans are united in their support for and belief that Hilary Clinton will become the first female US President.
In a 2007 census, the Filipino-American community was estimated to be at 4 million, or 1.5% of the United States population. Just like in the Philippines, Filipinos in the United States have gone all out in making sure their vote counts, and their bet wins. This election season has had a higher interest among the Filipino-American communities in the United Sates, primarily because, like the rest of the country, this is the first time that a woman or a black man has come so close to the White House. In other words, history is about to be made and Filipinos want to be there and to say that they helped make history. Who will win come November is up to the rest of the American people, but this early on, our brothers and sisters in the US are convinced that, if it was possible for the Philippines to have produced two women presidents, then the time is ripe for a woman to sit in the White House, as well.
*This survey is based on the answers of 195 Filipino-Americans in the United States sent through email. This study does not claim to be representative of the almost 4 million Filipino-Americans in the US and was conducted simply to get a sampling of the political culture of Filipino-Americans.