We went beyond the spin and ran the numbers on the “most diverse Congress” in history.
1. It’s not very new.
- 87% of House winners and 79% of Senate winners were incumbents; Out of Congress’ 535 members, only 65 are new
- Only 8% of House races did not have an incumbent running
- Only 16 out of 435 House seats (4%) changed party
2. The advantages of incumbency prevent change, locking in the race and gender status quo.
61% of House incumbent candidates were white men
73% of Senate incumbent candidates were white men
3. The most diverse Congress ever is still overwhelmingly white and male.
White men are 30% of the US population
White men are 58% of the 117th House of Representatives
White men are 67% of Senators
4. Headlines about a Republican Party diversity “breakthrough” distract from a grim reality.
Reflective representation in the 117th Congress
- The GOP flipped 12 House seats with women and people of color candidates, but 78% of Republican House candidates were men, and 81% were white.
- Republicans in the 117th House are 93% white, 86% male, and 82% white & male.
- Republicans in the Senate are 94% white, 82% male, and 76% white and male.
- Democratic House members almost exactly mirror the demographics of the country: 61% white (34% white men, 28% white women) and 38% people of color (20% men of color, 18% women of color).
- Senate Democrats are less reflective: 59% white men, 26% white women, 8% women of color, and 6% men of color.
5. The glass ceiling isn’t about to shatter.
- From 2016 to 2018, women increased by 24% in the House and 14% in the Senate, a massive acceleration over prior cycles. At that pace of change, in theory, half the members of Congress could have been women in just 10 years.
- But from 2018 to 2020, women increased by just 13% in the House and 9% in the Senate, putting the brakes on progress.