We Cracked the Code on White Male Minority Rule
In 2014, we launched the nation’s first comprehensive database of political candidates and elected officials by race and gender. Our data made national headlines: At 30 percent of the population, white men held 65 percent of elected offices.
Then we dug deeper.
- We revealed that AAPI people are the most underrepresented demographic in politics.
- We exposed the criminal justice system as a study in minority rule.
- Our explosive finding that 95 percent of elected prosecutors are white ignited a national movement to elect diverse, progressive prosecutors.
In 2018, we discovered a startling demographic shift. More women and people of color were on the mid-term ballots than ever before, leading to a modest but notable dent in white male overrepresentation. By 2020, voters had elected reflective leaders in unprecedented numbers, and white men had lost more political power than at any other moment in American history.
Americans still live under white male minority rule. But voters keep electing more leaders who reflect all the people — even as hate-based politics ascend.
White Male Elected Officials, 2014-2022
Our Data Proves It: Resistance is Not Futile
The election of Donald Trump brought right wing extremism to the highest levels of government. Yet, as our data reveals, women and people of color entered office at historic rates during the Trump Era, while white men’s political power waned at every level.
From 2016 to 2020, every demographic except white men made electoral gains, with women of color nearly doubling in Congress, and Black women increasing by 33 percent across all levels of office.
Our findings on city government showed a major groundswell in reflective democracy at the local level too. Even elected prosecutors got more diverse.
Prosecutors rarely face challengers at the polls. Yet our findings prove that when voters have options, they prefer women and people of color in the role. By 2019, women prosecutors of all races had increased by 34 percent over our 2015 baseline.
We Work to Change the Face of Power
In partnership with grassroots leaders, we proudly co-create and fund transformative, barrier-busting projects to advance reflective democracy.
As Native Americans mobilized at Standing Rock, we supported the founding of the only national organization working to increase the number of Native Americans in elected office. Since then, Native Americans in state legislatures have doubled.
We seeded the groundbreaking work that evolved into the Electoral Justice Project of the Movement for Black Lives. Today, Black elected officials have increased at every level of office.
We created a new model of community leadership development, enabling grassroots groups to train and support local reflective leaders running for office. Today, our model is being adopted nationwide.
We Bust the Myths About What Voters Want
We changed the conversation about “electability,” proving that when women and people of color are on the ballot, voters are just as likely to choose them as their white male counterparts.
The challenge is getting in front of voters.
Our Systems Failure report shows how incumbents – who are majority white and male – get advantages handed to them at every point in the election process. Our political system is hard-wired to exclude reflective voices.
So we’ve gone to work on changing the system.
- We convened political gatekeepers who choose candidates for tough conversations about sharing power.
- We funded a new organizing model that empowers grassroots groups to put authentically reflective candidates on the ballot.
Power Lock: Incumbency & White Male Minority Rule
60% of incumbents are white men
96% of incumbents win their elections
We Research Dangers to Democracy
As old barriers to reflective democracy start to recede, new ones rapidly arise. The worst barrier of all is the open dismantling of democracy, as recently enacted by the Supreme Court when it overturned Roe v. Wade.
While claiming to leave decisions about abortion to “the people,” the Court defied the will of the vast majority of Americans. Meanwhile, thanks to its rulings against voting rights and favoring rigged election districts, states can ban abortion without heeding their own voters.
Abortion is just the start. Radical extremists want to undo the democratic gains achieved by the social movements of the last century, and they’re backed by a powerful political apparatus.
The Dobbs Decision is Profoundly Undemocratic
Most of the states with abortion bans have passed new voter suppression laws, or are considering them.
- Abortion Ban States
- Abortion Ban States with New Voter Suppression Laws
One of our two major parties has taken the position that democracy is legitimate only if its mostly white and male candidates end up in office, and is methodically reshaping our political system to ensure its own dominance. Without bipartisan support for laws protecting voters and election integrity, we risk the actual end of American democracy just as it begins to fulfill its promise.
We’re Advancing the Promise of Reflective Democracy
With powerful forces mobilizing to steal political power, end the separation of church and state, and turn the clock back on civil rights, new models of resistance — nimble, innovative, and deeply intersectional — are needed.
Confident in the ingenuity of the multiracial, gender-diverse American grassroots, we are directing our research and organizing towards three urgent goals:
1: Invest in the work of organizers, thinkers, and innovators to develop new approaches to defeating anti-democratic movements and building a vibrant American democracy.
2: Prepare political candidates and leaders to confront and disarm coordinated attacks on the democratic process.
3: Support effective interventions to the high-jacking of law enforcement by extremists for anti-democratic, authoritarian purposes.
Join Our Movement
The fight for reflective democracy needs your voice. That’s why our reports and graphics are freely available to all, and we welcome your insights on our Twitter feed.
Download Our Research
Our reports confront the depths of white male minority rule, and explore the astonishing rise of women and people of color as elected leaders.
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