As the dust settles from the U.S. midterm elections, champions of inclusivity are celebrating the large and historic influx of women and people of color elected to federal office.
Some statistics are certainly celebratory. A record 272 women ran as general election nominees for U.S. Congress or governor this year, with 124 elected thus far. An equally historic 219 people of color were nominated, with at least 115 elected. For the first time, Native American women and Muslim women will serve in Congress. Massachusetts and Connecticut elected their first Black women to Congress, and Texas its first Latinas. Women will represent Arizona and Tennessee in the Senate and serve as governors of Maine and South Dakota for the first time, as well.
While a record number of eligible voters participated in this midterm election, the split in popular vote between the two political parties remained notably distinct from the makeup of elected representatives. Voter suppression and recount chaos continue to call into question the legitimacy of our elections, not coincidentally affecting communities with larger populations of people of color.
With this in mind, we wanted to take a closer look at this year’s record number of people of color and women vying for the highest elected offices. How did they actually fare distinctly and by comparison?
Our data, which examined the midterm general election nominees and winners, revealed a few key insights: people of color, and particularly women of color, over-performed in House races, though made just marginal net gains in representation; the Senate retained its demographic status quo; white women had the greatest success in governor’s races, an office which remains overwhelmingly occupied by white men.
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