Historic Low Support for Trump Could Get Worse Among Filipino Voters in Light of Trump’s Legal Woes

by Edwin Quinabo

Former president and 2024 candidate Donald Trump’s already low support among Filipinos is likely to drop further amid his legal woes if voting patterns hold.

This week Trump has been indicted on criminal charges for a third time. The Justice Department has indicted Trump over his efforts to hold on to power following his loss in the 2020 elections and his actions leading to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Trump was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States; conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding; obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding; and conspiracy against rights. The indictment stated, “For more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won. These claims were false, and the Defendant [Trump] knew they were false.”  It adds, “but the defendant disseminated them anyway – to make his knowingly false claims appear legitimate, create an intense atmosphere of mistrust and anger, and erode public faith in the administration of the election.”

Earlier in the year the Manhattan’s District Attorney’s Office brought a criminal indictment for alleged financial crimes; and a federal court charged Trump for his mishandling of classified documents and obstructing an investigation.

A fourth criminal indictment is expected by a Georgia prosecutor charging Trump with criminal attempts to overturn the election in that state.

History of low support for Trump among Filipino-Americans
Court hearings for his criminal indictments are expected next year in the thick of the U.S. presidential election that some political experts believe could dwindle support for Trump across the board.

This could spell disaster for Trump in the Filipino community where he’s already received anemic support.

In the 2016, 2020 and 2022 election cycles, three surveys from independent Asian groups showed support for Trump in the Filipino community in the 20s to low 30%.

In 2022, the Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIA Vote), AAPI Data, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJC) released a bi-annual report measuring Asian American sentiments and attitudes. It revealed just before the midterm elections Trump’s popularity in the Filipino community was at an all-time low.

The report showed Trump has a 16% very favorable to 51% very unfavorable impression among Filipinos. In that same survey Biden received 31% very favorable to 26% very unfavorable among Filipinos.

Right before the election of 2020, the National Asian American Survey (NAAS) conducted a comprehensive survey that showed 34% planned to vote for Trump and 48% for Biden.

Trump’s relationship with the Filipino community had been rocky from the very beginning.

When then presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016 suggested that immigration from the Philippines should be stopped because it’s a terrorist nation, he likely ended any chance he may have to compete for the Daly City, CA vote, said Mike Guingona, a Fil-Am councilman of that city at the time.

Guingona’s prediction proved to be an accurate weathervane not just in California, but nationally among Filipino voters.  According to the Legal Defense and Asian American Education Fund that conducted a multi-state exit polling survey, only 27% of Filipinos voted for Trump and 71% for Hilary Clinton in 2016.

Local reaction to Trump and his legal troubles
Emma Avilla, MD, Kakaako, said “It’s shameful to have a criminally indicted president. No one is above the law not even the president.  One must pay or serve time in prison if found guilty.  I did not vote for, nor will I ever vote for Trump.”

She recalls, “I remember an interview by Billy Bush on Access Hollywood where he claims as long as you are a star you can grab a woman’s private parts. That’s no respect at all for women.  He claims he can just shoot anybody on 5th Ave in New York and would not be held liable for it.  That’s no respect at all for life.”

Dr. Avilla commented on one of the criminal charges that involves the Jan. 6 insurrection, “If he [Trump] can endanger the lives of the lawmakers, what more for the ordinary people [as far as respect].”

Roland Casamina, President/CEO of House of Finance, Inc., said “with all Trump’s legal woes he’s going through, I wonder if he can sleep at night, [also knowing] all the people he hurt, especially his immediate family. If elected, he would be distracted and not be able to focus on the duties at hand.” Like Avila, Casamina also said he would not vote for Trump. “He has strengths, everyone does, except that he is very divisive. I like some of his points, but overall, he’s very controversial.”

What a second Trump presidency would be like
Marilyn Martin, Ewa Beach, said, “It’s clear to me that Trump is running for president again to avoid going to jail or face house arrest. In his campaign rallies, all he talks about is how Democrats and the deep state want him to go to jail. He accuses the Justice Department of weaponizing the legal system politically without having any evidence. As president, he has immunity at least for federal charges. And while presidential immunity doesn’t extend to state indictments if convicted, it doesn’t matter with Trump, he’d just ignore it or force a constitutional crisis.

“What’s dangerous about a second Trump term is him using the office of the presidency to go after his enemies as dictators do, as he already publicly said he would. I don’t understand how he is complaining about alleged weaponizing of the legal system, when he’s telling his base up front if elected, he would go after his enemies. That sounds like what he’s complaining about.

“We see Trump openly plotting how he is going to weaponize the government by cleaning house and firing anyone that his administration considers an enemy or insufficiently loyal to him.”

Martin said her main concern if Trump is elected is that it would pave the way for a dictatorship in the U.S. and be the end of democracy as we know it. “He would never leave the office until he dies. Why would he? The alternative would be to face jail time.”

Trump’s chances of winning in 2024
Politicos say Trump’s loyal solid base of about 38% of the voting electorate will not abandon Trump no matter what controversies he is besieged with, as it has shown to be the case time and time again.

A recent New York Times/Siena College poll among Republicans taken after Trump’s second criminal indictment shows Trump leads the Republican primary race at 54%, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 17%. The rest of the candidates registered less than 5%.

Political pundits say Trump will certainly win the Primary unless the field is narrowed down to a head-to-head matchup between Trump and one other candidate. None of the current candidates have gained traction, which means another viable prospect must enter the race.

John Bolton, who served as national security advisor to Trump and former interim U.S. ambassador, believes Trump’s lead will chip away in time as Republicans begin to process Trump’s mounting legal charges. He believes other conservatives could enter the presidential primary in August or September.

There is some evidence to Bolten’s theory. According to a recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying they believe Trump has done “nothing wrong” dropped 9 points in the last month, from 50% to 41%. Trump also dropped 6 points in support with that same group when asked whether they were more likely to support Trump or another candidate, if he continues to run for president.

Top conservatives and big Republican donors are also making the case more forcefully that Trump could win the primary, but cannot win in the general election, citing the last two national elections wherein Trump either lost or many of the candidates he endorsed lost. They say Trump is not electable because he carries too much baggage.

But Republican strategists sticking with Trump say his 38% base is solid; and that conservative independents who voted for Joe Biden in 2020 will come back to the party after now seeing what a Biden administration is like.

Filipino voters who are a part of Trump’s loyal 38% like Trump’s chances this time around.

Rey (last name withheld), Kapolei, an immigrant from the Philippines said “Trump is crushing his primary opponents. You never see that kind of resolve in primaries. Presidential incumbents also traditionally have a harder time in their re-election bids.

“The legal charges brought against Trump will only solidify his support because these charges are just political, not merited. Filipinos will come out strong for Trump because we are culturally conservative.”

Raise The FilAm Voice, a group that endorsed Trump in the last election, said “We cherish our family, our freedom to succeed, and our faith. We are traditionally conservative. This is who we are. Our conservative values are what defines our identity, our strength, and our hard-earned prosperity in the U.S.”

Ron Falconi, a FilAm, former Mayor of Brunswick, Ohio endorsed Trump in 2020. He said, “It is clear that Filipino values are Republican values. Now more than ever, our country is at a crossroads, and it is more important than ever to uphold those values and support President Donald Trump.”

Dr. Anthony Ocampo, associate professor of sociology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, believes we might not agree with how our fellow conservative Filipinos are voting, but it’s still important to get to know their concerns and values.

Ocampo voted against Trump in 2020. “I have no love for Trump —he who called Mexican immigrants drug dealers and rapists, bragged about sexual assault, implemented a Muslim travel ban, and disrespects Black women journalists. He’s the same man who’s incited state-sanctioned violence against peaceful protesters and evades responsibility for the more than 215,000 American lives lost [updated, 1,127,152] to the coronavirus (or as he insists, the ‘China virus.’”

Casamina said Trump could very well be elected again. “Given what’s going on with all the indictments, I hope he won’t be the next president of the United States.”

Biden and Trump are neck-and-neck
Despite Trump’s deepening legal woes, a new Siena College/New York Times poll released this week shows Biden and Trump locked in a dead heat at 43% each. But the poll shows 14% of voters who don’t support either candidate is leaning fairly strong to Biden.

Poll experts say because of the way the Electoral College is set up that gives advantage to Republicans, Biden must be leading Trump in polls by at least 7% to guarantee a victory.

Based on this Siena College/New York Times poll, that means Biden most likely could lose the Electoral College at this moment and win the popular vote. Biden would need to win at least half of the 14% still undecided.

“I hope and pray that Trump does not win again! He does not deserve another term. Why would I vote for somebody that is guilty of sedition and insurrection. I think Biden is doing a good job and is trying his best to improve our economy and solve inflation. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in an interview on CNN that Biden is doing a great job and people will just be made better aware of this [in time]. His experience as a lawmaker is outstanding. Biden was nonpartisan [at times] and was able to work with Republicans like former Sen John McCain,” Dr. Avilla said.

Casamina said he will not support Trump or Biden. “I hope there will be better choices. I will wait and see. As a registered Democrat, I will choose who I think will be better for our country, whether the person is a Republican or Democrat. [If needed,] I will vote across party lines.”

Issues Filipinos want addressed by next president
In the Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), AAPI Data, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice bi-annual report Asian Americans respondents ranked health care (88%), jobs and the economy (86%), crime (85%), education (82%), gun control (73%) and the environment (75%) as “extremely important” or “very important” issues. Voting rights and addressing racism were also important issues. 

Dr. Avilla said her priorities she wants the next president to work on are the economy, gun control, healthcare and national security.

Casamina said whoever is the next president, “there needs to be less spending. The government is too big. Our children and grandchildren are being left to pay for all the debts incurred. There also needs to be immigration reform.”

Martin also has concerns over immigration. She said, “Trump’s comprehensive immigration reform pitch was frightening. Trump proposed an immigration overhaul that would end chain (family-based) immigration, saying it posed an untenable risk to national security. Instead of family-based immigration, he wants to replace it with a merit system that would change the fundamentals to immigration. Hawaii is home to hundreds of thousands of Filipino immigrants who rely on family-based immigration. Hawaii Filipinos have become the largest ethnic group largely because of chain immigration. And Trump wanted to end it, but fortunately, the composition of Congress at the time rejected his proposal.

“He also said he wants to end birthright citizenship. That’s a bedrock tradition enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, that people who are born in the U.S. are automatically deemed as U.S. citizens. If Trump is elected and Republicans get a majority in Congress, I’m afraid of what immigration reform would look like.”

Martin said Trump already hurt our Filipino community, citing in 2016, he terminated the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program (FWVP).

At the time, Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono said, “the depths of Donald Trump’s inhumanity where immigrants are concerned knows no bottom, but not even the most loyal of his supporters can be in favor of disrespecting the brave and distinguished service of veterans who fought alongside Americans and helped us win the war. There is no purpose to keeping the families of the quickly diminishing number of Filipino World War II veterans separated. They have been ignored and disrespected by this country for decades. They deserve our thanks, not spite from their unhinged president.”

Like Casamina and other registered Democrats, Martin is not thrilled about Biden. “I’m not bothered by Biden’s age. But I’m wanting fresh ideas and an invigorating approach to governance, and that usually comes with life experience of a younger politician like Obama was when he first became president. I think this is the real reason behind criticisms of Biden’s age. People really want invigorating leadership, inspiring leadership that Biden is not adequately capable of.

“But if the choice came down between Biden and Trump, of course, I will be voting for Biden. Unfortunately, this could very well be our only option. But my advice to Democrats and independents is this – remember Hilary Clinton’s loss. Many voters were not excited about a Clinton presidency and did not show up to vote. This is why Trump became president in the first place. We must learn from this and come out strong to vote for Biden if we don’t want another Trump presidency,” Martin said.

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