First comprehensive analysis of 2018 elections also shows women candidates and elected officials increasing their share of seats over the past several election cycles at the federal, state and county level, while white men are declining across all levels of office
Washington, D.C. – As “electability” dominates the national conversation around 2020, the Reflective Democracy Campaign today released The Electability Myth: The Shifting Demographics of Political Power in America , a groundbreaking new report studying the electability of women of all races, men of color and white men up and down the ballot in the 2018 election. This is also the first national, system-wide analysis of the 2018 election with data on the race and gender of midterm candidates and elected officials.
Looking back over the last several election cycles, the report describes that the share of white men elected officials declined at all levels of office, although at 30% of the population, white men still hold 62% of elected offices at the local, state and federal level. But while white men may still have a monopoly hold on elected office, they do not hold a monopoly on electability: Women of all races and men of color won elections at the same rates as white men in 2018, the report finds.
“The term ‘electability’ has been co-opted by the overwhelmingly white male political class to its
advantage, with no basis in fact,” said Brenda Choresi Carter, director of the Reflective Democracy
Campaign. “After a record-breaking election for women and people of color, the numbers are clear: white men’s electability advantage is a myth. When reflective candidates are on the ballot, they win as often as white men.”
The report provides an in-depth look at the shifting demographics of candidates and elected officials at the federal, state and county level over the past several years, as well as mayors from the top 200 most populous cities. Additional topline findings include:
- Between 2012 and 2018, women of color candidates for Congress increased by 105%, with women candidates overall increasing by 40%.
- Since 2015, women of color in all elected offices have increased by 30% and women overall have increased by 10%. Women of color holding Congressional seats have increased by 41% and women overall have increased by 23%.
- From 2015 to 2017, women’s share of Congressional seats increased at a rate of 1.5%. Between 2017 and 2019, that increase exploded to 21%.
- Since 2015, women’s share of statewide executive offices has increased by 57%. In state legislatures, women overall have increased their share of seats by 15%.
- The number of women state legislators increased in 47 out of 50 states following the 2018 election, with eight states seeing an increase of 40% or more.
- In 2018 the majority of Democratic candidates were not white men—a first since the Reflective Democracy Campaign began tracking this data in 2012. People of color now hold 27% of Democratic seats but fewer than 3% of GOP seats. Women are now 39% of Democratic officeholders but only 27% of Republicans.
- Fifty-one of America’s 200 most populous cities are led by mayors of color: 38 men and 13 women. Of the 40 big city women mayors currently in office, 34 replaced male mayors.
This report is the latest from the Reflective Democracy Campaign, which maintains the country’s only comprehensive database of candidates and elected officials by race and gender. The campaign’s public opinion research has consistently found bipartisan voter support for politicians who reflect the full diversity of the American people.
The campaign has also just updated the National Representation Index, which measures political power by race and gender, comparing the demographics of a state’s population to its elected officials and adjusting for level of office. You can see the updated National Representation Index here.
The Electability Myth: The Shifting Demographics of Political Power in America analyzes data from nearly 45,000 current elected officials and 34,000 general election candidates. More information can be found at WhoLeads.Us, including charts and graphics that illustrate the findings.
To request more information or to interview Brenda Choresi Carter, please contact Nick Kauzlarich at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-800-9010.