About those suburban voters…

We seem to forget how many are actually Asian-American

Tim Wu
2 min readNov 17, 2020


A consensus verdict on the 2020 election has been that suburban voters did Trump in. In the public mind’s eye, what really decided the election was a Carol Brady-like figure, the white suburban mom, who, alarmed by Trump’s indifference to public health and his general vulgarity, went with good old Joe Biden.

The imagined voter

What complicates this picture and seems grossly overlooked is how much of the American suburban population is now Asian-American (Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, Filipino and Chinese-American especially). That’s not just true of the country, but also of Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston and Las Vegas — the major cities in swing states. It matters because, according to exit polls, Asian-Americans broke strongly for Biden.

Public domain pic of Amy Chua (with daughters) who admittedly doesn’t live in big city suburb, unless you count New Haven as a suburb of NYC.

To take one example: Gwinnett County was was among the suburban Atlanta counties that went hard for Biden: it is about one quarter Asian, mainly Indian-Americans and Koreans. In Houston and around Las Vegas, in the swing states of Texas and Nevada, Asian are the fastest growing population group. Montgomery county, a suburban of Philadelphia, and another key 2020 county, has a large Indian, Korean and Chinese population.

But you wouldn’t know this from an post-electoral analysis that has mainly focused on white suburban women, coupled with an enormous effort to dissect and understand the Latino and black vote. (There are a few exceptions, like this). I raise this point not because I think Asian-Americans should try and take credit for electing Biden. Nor do I think that the votes of suburban women or blacks or Latinos didn’t matter — of course they did.(In fact, I think it is wrong and divisive for any one group to take credit when nearly 79 million people voted for the candidate.) But there is good reason to think Asian-Americans, living in the suburbs, sure helped.

We may add to that the fact that Andrew Yang was the first Chinese-American Presidential candidate to make an important impact, and that Kamala Harris, for her part, was the first Indian-American woman to be elected Vice President —

Not so bad, actually.



Tim Wu

Professor at Columbia University; author of “The Curse of Bigness,” “The Attention Merchants,” and “The Master Switch;” veteran of Silicon Valley & Obama Admin.