Primary elections are widely viewed as robustly competitive. But when we analyzed 2020 primary races, we found a pattern of systemic gridlock fortifying white male minority rule.
At just 30 percent of the population, white men exercise minority rule over 42 state legislatures, the House, the Senate, and statewide offices from coast to coast.
Our primary report finds two systemic factors sustaining white male minority rule.
The Incumbency Advantage
Sitting elected officials almost always win their elections.
White male minority rule gets reinforced by the virtually insurmountable advantages of incumbency, which ensure that most candidates running as challengers will lose. Historically, women and people of color were mostly excluded from elected office, so white men held all the power. Today, women and people of color are running for office like never before, but change is slow to come. Voters want fresh policies and fresh faces, but with 96 percent of incumbents winning their elections, the primaries are an apt model for what’s wrong with our system.
The Partisan Demographic Divide
While Democratic candidates look more or less like today’s America, GOP candidates do not.
Only one side of the aisle is trying to make our democracy look like today’s America. Across all offices, Democratic primary candidates were 44 percent women and 32 percent people of color. But GOP candidates were 23 percent women, and 7 percent people of color. In a country that’s more than half women and 40 percent people of color, one of our two major parties is signaling deep resistance to change.
In the Media
Last year, the campaign reported that power is shifting from white men to women of color in many cities…. At the same time, the study noted that 43 states are considering or have already passed laws to suppress the vote.“New study finds white male minority rule dominates US.” The Hill
‘We have a political system in general that is not built to include new voices and perspectives. It’s a system built to protect the people and the interests already represented in it,’ Choresi Carter said. ‘It’s like all systems. It’s built to protect the status quo.’“White male minority rule pervades politics across the US, research shows.” The Guardian
New research by the Reflective Democracy Campaign adds to the evidence that American society is structured around protecting white (male) privilege and power.“American apartheid and the wealth gap: How white supremacy drives inequality.” Salon