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Politics & Policy

Asian American voters most likely to support recall of DA Chesa Boudin, The Standard’s voter poll finds

Passersby in San Francisco’s Chinatown on Dec. 18, 2021. | Camille Cohen

Asian American voters appear to be the driving force in the upcoming election to potentially recall District Attorney Chesa Boudin.

The San Francisco Standard Voter Poll, which was released Wednesday, found that the recall received the highest support from Asian voters among all racial groups. Another poll, commissioned by the recall campaign earlier this year, had similar findings on which way Asian voters are leaning. 

The Standard poll found that 67% of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) voters were in favor of the recall, which was significantly higher than other racial groups: the recall had the support of 52% of Hispanic voters, 51% of white voters, and 34% of Black voters.

Overall, 57% of respondents supported the recall, 22% opposed the recall and 21% were undecided.

The Standard commissioned Embold Research, a nonpartisan and nonpolitical arm of Change Research, to conduct the poll, which surveyed 1,048 San Francisco registered voters online between April 30 and May 4. The questionnaire centered on the upcoming election, San Francisco city life and community priorities. The findings are representative of the city’s voter population. Read more about the methodology here.

Leanna Louie, who has protested against Boudin at multiple public events, told The Standard that she was “not surprised” by the poll’s findings.

“The Asian community has had enough,” Louie said in a statement. ”Public safety should be Chesa Boudin’s highest priority, but it feels like he’s focused more on politics and optics than protecting us from the dangerous people on the street.”

Findings from The Standard’s poll are similar to those from a poll released in March by the recall campaign—Safer SF Without Boudin—in which Asian respondents also showed the strongest support for the recall among other racial groups: 74% of Asian respondents reportedly said they were supporting the recall. The survey didn’t offer the “undecided” option for participants.

Chesa Boudin’s anti-recall campaign issued a statement saying it “appreciate(s) the SF Standard attempting to delve into voter sentiment,” but officials cited concerns on The Standard’s poll results due to the methodology.

The anti-recall campaign also slammed previous polling numbers from the recall campaign. “If they truly believed their own results, they wouldn’t be spending a half million a week of Republican money to attack Chesa Boudin,” officials said.

Public safety concerns have lingered in the city’s Asian American community, as violent videos frequently go viral and local hate crime incidents have surged more than 500 percent. Boudin also has been labeled soft on crime based on his efforts to direct many lower-level offenders to diversion programs instead of jail time.

Crime and safety are on the minds of AAPI voters in SF. Fully 74% report feeling less safe in the city than they did in 2019, compared to 65% of respondents overall. And 69% mention crime as one of the things they like least about living in the city. That figure compares to only 59% of all respondents.

Garret Tom, former deputy chief for the San Francisco Police Department, acknowledged that crimes against Asians are not new, and the district attorney is just one part of a larger criminal justice system. But, he added, San Francisco has “never been like this,” referencing the rise in hate crimes and repeat offenders quickly getting back on to the street through more diversion programs instead of jail time.

“If you are constantly letting people out of jail with no accountability, they are going to repeat,” Tom said.

Asian American elected leaders in the city are firmly united on the Boudin side and prominent civil rights leaders, including Henry Der, Ling Chi Wang, and former police commissioner Bill Ong Hing, submitted paid arguments to oppose the recall.

In an interview with The Standard last month, Boudin said that he’s proud to have support from a long list of current and former elected Asian American leaders, including Assemblyman Phil Ting, supervisors Gordon Mar and Connie Chan, and former supervisors Sandra Fewer, Mabel Teng and Norman Yee.

“We have an amazing array of Chinese leaders, including many that didn’t support my election in 2019,” Boudin said in the interview. “[They] have stood up and said, ‘The recall is dishonest.’”