WASHINGTON - A MAJORITY of Asian-Americans chose Senator Barack Obama for president and expect him to appoint representatives from the rapidly growing community in his new administration, officials said on Wednesday.
Sixty-two per cent of the seven million Asian voters picked Democrat Obama compared with 35 per cent for Republican Senator John McCain in the historic presidential election on Tuesday, media exit polls showed.
'This is one of the best coordinated Asian-American campaign efforts and I think the community ought to be very proud of it,' said Mr Mike Honda, the chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
Studies showed that Asian-Americans were a 'deciding factor' in the presidential race in states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, Nevada and Minnesota.
'Asian-Americans played their part in this week's elections with record turnouts at the polls, breaking nearly two-to-one in support of dramatic change,' said Mr Toby Chaudhuri, spokesman for the liberal Campaign for America's Future.
All six Asian-Americans in the House of Representatives successfully defended their seat in congressional elections held simultaneously with the presidential contest.
Five others, however, failed to win House seats, including Indian American Ashwin Madia, an Iraq war veteran who ran as a Democrat in a hotly contested election in the mid-western US state of Minnesota.
Asian-American leaders said they expected president-elect Mr Obama to appoint members of the community in key posts in his administration to reflect the rapidly growing ethnic group.
Three Asian-Americans officials were included Wednesday in Mr Obama's 'transition' team in preparation for the new administration taking office on January 20, described as 'good first steps' by community leaders.
Outgoing President George W. Bush had over 300 Asian-Americans in both part-time and full-time capacities in his administration - the most ever in the country's history, officials said.
They included former transport secretary Japanese American Norman Mineta, the first Asian ever to serve in the cabinet, and Labour Secretary Elaine Chao, a Chinese American.
'There are a little over 1,000 positions that the new administration can appoint folks to and I hope we get our share of them, especially positions in cabinet, sub-cabinet and other senior positions,' Mr William Marumoto, president of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.
Among Asian-Americans who could be named as cabinet members under the Obama administration are Honda, a Japanese American lawmaker who could be education secretary, and former Washington state governor Gary Locke, a Chinese American, according to Marumoto.
'I would at least like the opportunity to express and share my vision with Barack and I believe that when he hears it, it will resonate with him and his vision of change for this country,' said Mr Honda, a former school principal with 30 years of public education experience.
There are now 14 million Asian-Americans, making up five per cent of the total US population. Their number is expected to nearly triple in 2050 to 41 million, government figures show.
'Asian-Americans are on the rise. With this election, they've gained strength, institutional capacity, political sophistication, an expanded coalition and exciting new leaders,' said Mr Chaudhuri, a Democratic strategist. -- AFP