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Study: Asian immigration on the rise in U.S.

Although the Latino vote could very well decide the upcoming presidential election, Hispanics no longer make up the fastest-growing immigrant group in the United States.

That honor instead goes to immigrants from Asia, according to a new study by the Pew Research Institute.

The study shows that, from 2000-2010, the annual arrival of Hispanic immigrants declined from 59% of all immigrants to 31%, while Asian immigrants increased from 19% to 36%.

Overall, the Asian-American population in America reached a record 18.2 million in 2011, bringing the demographic to 5.8% of the U.S. population -- a surge from 1% in 1965.

By comparison, however, there are 52 million Latinos in the U.S., or 16% of the population.

Politically, Asian Americans in the U.S. tend to vote Democratic. According to Pew, half of them are Democrats or lean toward the Democratic Party; only 28% identify as Republicans.

Asian Americans also view President Obama in a more favorable light, with a 54% approving of his job versus 44% for the general public who do. According to 2008 Election Day exit polls, Asian Americans supported Obama over John McCain by a 62%-35% margin.

On a broader political ideology scale, 55% of Asian Americans prefer a larger government with more services, while only 36% support a smaller government. Those numbers for the general populace are essentially reversed, with 52% supporting small government and 39% favoring bigger government.

When it comes to social issues, Asian Americans support same-sex marriage by a 53%-35% margin, and 54% believe abortion should be legal (versus 37% who say it should be illegal).

But how important will the Asian-American vote be in 2012, especially in key battleground states? The Asian-American populations in Nevada and Virginia are 6.2% and 4.9%, respectively, according to the U.S. Census Bureau data.

The populations in Florida and North Carolina, however, are much smaller, making up only 2% in each state. The states where Asian-Americans mostly reside are (in order) Hawaii, California, New Jersey, and New York.