The 2010 Candidates: A Demographic Analysis

That the American population is changing is beyond doubt. But what about the candidates we choose to run for higher office? The clear majority of Congressional and gubernatorial candidates are white men, but white men are a clear minority within the United States. To see if (and how) this pattern is changing, we researched how many minorities, women, and Millennials are candidates for Congress or governor in 2010 and then broke down these results by party, incumbency, and district. Our report is here.

The results are predictable in some ways and surprising in others. It shouldn’t shock anyone to find out that nearly 70 percent of all woman, minority, and Millennial candidates are Democrats. Among incumbents running for reelection, the Democrats have an even stronger advantage (100 percent of African-American incumbents are Democrats, for example). Republicans, on the other hand, are running more minority, woman, and Millennial challengers than incumbents. This points the way towards a more diverse party that we can’t see when looking just at the current Republican caucus.

The GOP has made particular strides among woman and Hispanic candidates. Forty-three percent of all female challengers are Republicans, while only 22 percent of all female incumbents are Republicans.

And while Democrats are running far more Hispanic incumbents, Republicans have an outright majority among all Hispanic challengers running for office in 2010. Some Hispanic Republican challengers are in high-profile races, such as the Florida Senate race in which Marco Rubio is the GOP candidate, but others are simply running for Congressional seats in the Southwest.

Simon and Kristian have written about the potential for a Latino backlash against the Republican Party after Arizona’s SB1070 immigration law and the more recent calls among national politicians to revise the 14th Amendment. Can that backlash coexist with more Hispanic Republican candidates? It’s unclear for now—although the Congressional elections in two years will occur in redrawn districts based on the information from the 2010 Census. New districts based on new demographic realities will probably provide us with a better idea of where American politics will go in the next decade.

In the meantime, even though primary season isn’t over yet, this report should provide a good overview of who is running for office this year. The news is mostly good for both parties—Democrats maintain their lead and Republicans are running a more diverse slate of candidates—but the numbers also indicate that we’ve got a ways to go before we eliminate the gap between woman, minority, and Millennial candidates and citizens.

Again, look at the full report here. Thanks for reading.