Conducted by Politico/Morning Consult, the survey found that 71% of AAPI adults said Trump is a major or minor reason for hostility during the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies found that COVID-19-related social media posts with anti-Asian rhetoric increased dramatically after Trump began blaming China for the pandemic. His spread of COVID-19 misinformation and use of xenophobic language like “Chinese virus,” “Wuhan virus,” and “Kung flu” have been connected to a rapid surge in hate crimes nationwide, including increasing already present anti-Asian hate in some communities. As people stayed at home due to COVID-19 safety measures, they took their frustration out on the AAPI community, who they blamed for the virus, Daily Kos reported.
The poll conducted in June included responses from more than 2,000 AAPI community members. It follows a surge in hate crimes, which continue to rise at alarming rates despite the increasing attention toward them.
According to the latest data released by the FBI, hate crimes targeting people of Asian descent in the U.S. rose by 70% last year when compared to the number of such incidents in 2019. The report found that more than 10,000 people reported hate crimes to law enforcement—the highest tally of reported hate crimes since 2008.
The poll also suggested that distance from Trump would help attract more AAPI community members to vote for the GOP. According to NBC News, early and absentee voting by AAPI voters in swing states increased by 300% last year, more than any other group. Asian Americans and immigrants came out in record numbers this year to vote for Biden during the 2020 election.
According to a report from the Pew Research Center published in July, members of Congress, especially Republicans, are increasingly discussing China on social media using critical language in the context of the pandemic.
Cliff Li, head of the National Committee of Asian American Republicans, told Politico that Trump’s hateful rhetoric made many Asian conservatives feel left out of politics and thus resulted in them switching their allegiance to Biden.
The survey also found that while a majority believed Trump to be a reason for discrimination against AAPI people, only 33% said the same of Republicans broadly and 31% said the same of Republican lawmakers. According to Politico, this disconnect could be linked to Trump’s reputation within the party and his use of racist terms about the pandemic.
According to Janelle Wong, a professor of Asian American and American studies at the University of Maryland, an overwhelming majority of Asian American Republicans also cited racial discrimination as a highly important factor prior to last year’s elections in a 2020 survey by AAPI Data.
“His words and his validation and refusal to back down even after he was informed that it would have negative repercussions for Americans, the people he’s supposed to lead and care about … made an indelible mark with regards to people who are engaging with these acts but also for the victims, getting the sense that he legitimized or made it OK to have these ideas and thoughts,” said Charissa Cheah, a professor at the University of Maryland.
Cheah conducted studies measuring anti-Asian American discrimination during the pandemic during and after Trump’s term in office. Through her research, Cheah found that the situation has not improved for Asian Americans since Biden took office, despite his condemning of anti-Asian violence.
“The stage had been set. The gates are open,” Cheah said.
While awareness is being spread, hate against the AAPI community is continuing at a rapid rate. Recent data has found that at least 4,533 anti-Asian incidents were reported in the first six months of this year, Daily Kos reported. This report follows others that include alarming statistics on the number of crimes committed against the AAPI community solely because of their identity. While Trump is no longer in office, these reports indicate that the hate he inspired is still rampant.
The AAPI community needs our support now more than ever, whether it be checking in on our family and friends, spreading awareness of COVID-19 misconceptions, or contacting members of Congress to do more against anti-Asian hate. Check out this guide on resources and ways to support the AAPI community and our Asian friends. Hate is the real virus, and we must end it.