A whopping 71 percent of the Vietnamese-American community plans
to vote for President Bush in the upcoming election, according to a
recent national poll by the multi-ethnic news agency New California
Media.

Dan Tran, a member of Vietnamese Americans Against John Kerry,
isn’t surprised. Instead he anticipates an even higher
percentage, predicting Vietnamese will virtually vote unanimously
for Bush.

“I think 90 percent of the Vietnamese in America will vote
against Kerry,” he said.

Amid an already heated election littered with issues surrounding
Iraq and the economy, in the eyes of some Vietnamese the sole
factor determining their vote has been their resentment of
presidential candidate John Kerry’s record with their
homeland.

For anti-communist Vietnamese who fled the country,
Kerry’s anti-Vietnam war stance and policies on current
relations with Vietnam have only evoked anger.

This has fueling their hostility to his candidacy and helping to
sway an overwhelming proportion of votes to Bush, leaving only 11
percent backing Kerry as indicated by the poll, conducted by
national polling organization Bendixen Associates.

While the number of Vietnamese registered to vote in 2000 was
near 325,000 according to U.S. Census reports, Sergio Bendixen,
president of Bendixen Associates, said the number of Vietnamese
registered voters now could be as high as 600,000.

“So their vote will be a little less than 1 percent (of
the total registered voters). If you were to look at the 18
battleground states, at most there will be 100,000 Vietnamese votes
in those states,” Bendixen said.

With the number of Vietnamese voters growing, Vietnamese
opponents of Kerry hope their community’s support for Bush
will deny Kerry his shot at the White House.

LSA senior Mary Tran, who is not related to Dan Tran, says this
strident opposition toward Kerry is evident in her father.

“My dad is voting for Bush because of Kerry’s
Vietnam record and what he did in the past,” she said.

Citing Kerry’s protests against the Vietnam War and his
later attempts to normalize relations with Vietnam during 1995,
Mary Tran said her father believes Kerry only aided what he sees as
the brutal dictatorship governing Vietnam today.

Kerry’s past does not merely reflect on Vietnam, but also
his inability to lead the United States, said Dan Tran.

“Kerry joined the Vietnam War and then he opposed it.
That’s his ‘flip-flopping’,” Dan Tran said,
who is also president of the Vietnam Human Rights Project.
“He then misled America about the Vietnam War, when he
testified in court against U.S. soldiers,” said Dan Tran,
adding that the United States could have won the war.

Most recently, Kerry blocked a bill that would have reduced U.S.
aid to Vietnam in order to pressure the country to end its human
rights abuses. Kerry’s opposition to the bill further
deepened the divide between Vietnamese and his candidacy, Dan Tran
added.

Not all Vietnamese communities plan to vote against Kerry.
Engineering freshman Quang Nguyen also said his Florida Vietnam
community would probably vote for Kerry, believing that even with
his Vietnam war record, Kerry is still the superior candidate.
“I feel that he is the person who would most stand up for
more immigration from Vietnam in America,” he added.

But the rationale behind most Vietnamese backing President Bush
has not solely been weighed on Kerry’s wartime record. In
fact, support for the Republicans has its origins since Vietnam
refugees immigrated to America during the Vietnam War.

Andrew Lam, an NCM translator who helped conduct the poll, said
a key reason for Vietnamese support of Bush is because many of them
were born in Vietnam.

“I think part of it is 80 percent of the population are
immigrants from overseas. And many of them still remember the
Vietnam War and still perceive a strong foreign policy as a way of
keeping the world stable,” he said.

As most Vietnamese Americans were from South Vietnam, Lam said
many are anti-communists and believe the Republicans are extremely
anti-communist.

In turn, Lam added, it’s expected for them to oppose Kerry
because of his anti-war attitude during the Vietnam War.

“(Vietnamese immigrants) were basically the losers of the
war. They believe that the war protesters in America caused the
U.S. to withdraw and lose the war.”

In recent years, polls have also showed Vietnamese consistently
voting conservative, Bendixen said. “They are very
conservative in the war of Iraq. On issues like gay marriage they
have been very strong (conservative voters). The issue of 9/11,
they were very patriotic. So they tend to feel best represented by
Republicans.”

Yet while Vietnamese have voted conservative in the past, the
direction of elections to come is uncertain since the next
generation of Vietnamese may begin to alter that path.

Along with the overwhelming Vietnamese vote, the poll also
indicated that among Asian Americans aged 18 to 39, 51 percent will
vote for Kerry versus 27 percent for Bush.

Lam said younger Vietnamese would most likely follow the same
trend.

“They grew up in the U.S. so their concerns are very
different. The younger generation in this election is facing a
possible draft. They face the economy and the war. The issues are
domestic,” he said.

But University students say the Vietnamese vote for both
generations is not as clear-cut as the NCM poll shows.

Business School senior Teresa Nguyen said her family is likely
to vote for Kerry.

“Looking at my parents’ community, it is mainly blue
collar working class, rather than anything like the Republicans. So
they have voted for Democrats in the past. I think they are also
more concerned about current events,” she said.

As for Vietnamese students, many have yet to decide, feeling
they have not looked into the election enough or they are
unsatisfied with both candidates. Pharmacy senior Mandee Nguyen
said, “I’ve heard stories on both sides. I’m not
even sure if I want to vote, because I’m not happy with
either candidate.”

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