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Inside Politics

Shopping for Asian-American votes

By CNN's Richard Quest

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There are many different issues affecting different sections of the Asian-American community.
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Some Asian Americans feel their political concerns are not being addressed.
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SEATTLE, Washington (CNN) -- There are supermarkets, and then there's the Uwajimaya -- Seattle's largest Asian food store, selling to a growing Asian community.

"We try to make our shop a one-stop shop for people, recent immigrants from Asia ... for comfort level and anything else. So we have American foods and a variety of Asian," says owner Tomio Moriguchi.

Moriguchi is one of 400,000 Asian Americans living in this region -- a number that has doubled in the past decade.

In fact, 7 percent of Washington state residents are classed as Asian-Pacific Americans.

In an election year, this is a sizeable minority that presidential politicians do not seem to have fully tapped into.

"I don't think they are doing as much as they should. A lot of it is lip service," Moriguchi says.

"I think also they really don't know how to address the Asian population. They haven't spent much time to think this through as probably they should."

One problem is there are many different issues affecting different sections of the community -- for instance, China and Taiwan.

"It's very sensitive who will be the president of the United States -- Democrat or Republican," says Cathy Chao.

Meanwhile, Cathy Dong, from Korea, knows that immigration and reuniting families are issues still to be resolved.

"I think immigration has a major impact on the economy and just the social issues that affect Asian Americans in particular, so yeah, I think that is a very important issue and I think it will be something that many people will take into consideration when they go to vote," Dong says.

At an Asian-American history museum in Seattle, it's clear the immigration issue is one that has been at the core of the community for decades -- along with discrimination.

"There are two issues that unite the whole Asian community -- immigration and racial issues," says Mei-Ling Woo of the Organization of Chinese Americans.

"It does not matter how wealthy you are, how well educated you are -- I'm highly educated professional, you still feel the stings. You are not part of this community. People still see you as a foreigners."

In the end, because the Asian-American community is made up of so many different nations and interests, courting this vote is like trying to hit a moving target. For instance, what those from Taiwan want is different from Chinese-Americans, or Japanese-Americans, or those from Korea.

For both Republicans and Democrats, this is one minority that could well defy easy political definition.


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