A Demographic Analysis of the Major 2010 Election Candidates

Publish Date: 
Jordan Fraade

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Executive Summary

  • Despite a rapidly diversifying country, minority, Millennial, and woman candidates remain rare: Twenty-seven percent of this year's major candidates are women, Millennials, or minorities. White, non-Millennial men make up 73 percent of this year's major candidates but only about 34 percent of the total national population.
  • Democrats continue to run more woman, Millennial, and minority candidates: Out of 248 woman, Millennial, or minority candidates, 169 are Democrats and 79 are Republicans. Of those, Democrats are running more incumbents than challengers, while Republicans are running more challengers.
  • Despite overall Democratic dominance, Republican challengers are more diverse than the current Republican caucus: The GOP has markedly increased the number of woman and Hispanic candidates it is running.
  • A considerable majority of Hispanic challengers are Republicans: Although Democrats outnumber Republicans among Hispanic incumbents, 75 percent of this year's Hispanic challengers are Republicans.
  • Democrats continue to run far more African-American candidates: Eighty-one percent of African-American candidates are Democrats, and most black Republicans are running against incumbent black Democrats.
  • Asian-American and Millennial candidates are few but increasing, and both groups are reliably Democratic: Unlike other groups studied, Asian-American and Millennial challengers equal or outnumber incumbents.



This report presents the demographics of Democratic and Republican candidates for the 2010 Congressional and gubernatorial elections. It focuses on five categories: Women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, and members of the Millennial generation (born 1982 to 2003). Any candidates that do not fall into at least one of these categories have been omitted from the study. Some candidates fall into more than one category.

In 2010, the entire House of Representatives (435 seats plus a Washington D.C. delegate), 36 Senate seats, and 37 gubernatorial seats are up for election, for a total of 509 contested seats. This report only includes candidates who are the confirmed party nominee as of August 10, 2010 or the prohibitive favorite to win an upcoming primary. The total number of candidates in the study will therefore be 916 instead of 1018, which will be the total number of candidates come Election Day (509 seats x 2 candidates per seat). The sample of 916 candidates includes 480 Democrats (52.4%) and 435 Republicans (47.5%), with one independent. Because of this slight skew, statistics range in a +/- 2.5% margin of error.












(104 D, 22 R)

(65 D, 57 R)





(60 D, 17 R)

(43 D, 33 R)





(37 D, 0 R)

(15 D, 12 R)





(22 D, 3 R)

(5 D, 15 R)





(5 D, 2 R)

(5 D, 2 R)






(6 D, 1 R)

Minorities, Millennials, and Women Are Underrepresented in Electoral Politics

In 2010, 27.1 percent of all candidates are female, black, Hispanic, Millennial, or Asian-American. This leaves 72.9 percent of candidates who are white, non-Millennial men, though only about 34 percent of the total U.S. population consists of white non-Millennial men. Of all 248 woman, Millennial and minority candidates, 169 (68.1 percent) are Democrats, among which are 104 incumbents and 65 challengers. Seventy candidates (31.9 percent) are Republicans, consisting of 22 incumbents and 57 challengers. In the three largest categories in this study-Women, African-Americans, and Hispanics-this pattern holds: Among Democrats, incumbents outnumber challengers and among Republicans, challengers outnumber incumbents.

While Republicans Gain, Democrats Still Lead

The Republican Party, which for many years had an almost exclusively white male caucus, has recruited a significant number of Latino and woman candidates. Cuban-Americans from Florida have traditionally been the one Hispanic group to vote Republican. However, Republicans have recently expanded their reach to include more Hispanic candidates in the traditional Southwestern "Latino Belt."

The Republican challengers' greater diversity when compared to their current caucus should not be mistaken for an overall lead in the number of minority and woman candidates. When looking at all 248 minority, Millennial, and woman candidates, Democrats are running more than two candidates for every one Republican and still lead in each of the report's five major demographic categories.

"Year of the Woman"?

Primary victories by Republican women in California and South Carolina have incited a debate in the media over whether 2010 is the "year of the woman." The number of Republican woman challengers is indeed substantially larger than the number of Republican woman incumbents. There are 153 woman candidates this year (16.7 percent of all candidates). One hundred and three are Democrats, making up 67.3 percent of all woman candidates; 50 (32.7 percent) of this year's woman candidates are Republicans. Among only the 77 woman incumbents, who represent 15.1 percent of all incumbents in this year's elections, 60 (77.9 percent) are Democrats and 17 (22.1 percent) are Republicans. However, among the 76 woman challengers, 43 (56.6 percent) are Democrats and 33 (43.4 percent) are Republicans.

Among Hispanics, Republicans Gain Ground and Offer More Challengers

The nearly threefold gap between the percentage of all candidates who are Hispanic and the percentage of Americans who are Hispanic is among the widest in this report. There are 45 Hispanic candidates out of 916 established candidates so far (4.9 percent of all candidates), while Hispanics currently make up an estimated 15.4 percent of the national population according to the Census Bureau. By party, 27 (60 percent) of this year's Hispanic candidates are Democrats, and 18 (40 percent) are Republicans.

Among the 25 Hispanic incumbents running (4.9 percent of all incumbents), 22 (88 percent) are Democrats and three (12 percent) are Republicans. Only African-American incumbents are more closely aligned with a single party. Among the 20 Hispanic challengers running this year, 15 (75 percent) are Republicans and five (25 percent) are Democrats. "Hispanic challengers" is the only category in this study in which Republicans outnumber Democrats-and that they do so by such a wide margin is striking. These Republican challengers, like Hispanic incumbents, are concentrated in states with large Hispanic populations. However, only six of the 15 Republican Hispanic challengers are facing fellow Hispanics.

Among African-American Candidates, Democrats Still Dominate

The party breakdown among African-American candidates is the most lopsided in favor of the Democrats. Where Republicans are running black candidates, they are almost always doing so in heavily black districts. Out of 64 total black candidates for office this year (7.0 percent of all candidates), 52 (81.3 percent) are Democrats and 12 (18.7 percent) are Republicans. Furthermore, among the 37 black incumbents in this year's election (7.3 percent of all incumbents), there is not a single Republican. Much has been made of Tim Scott, the black Republican running for an open House seat in South Carolina's first district. If elected, Scott would be the first black Republican to represent South Carolina since Reconstruction, and given the state's conservative politics, he is almost sure to win. This would give the Republicans, at minimum, one black member of Congress and their first since J.C. Watts of Oklahoma retired in 2002.

Of the 27 African-American challengers in 2010, 15 (55.6 percent) are Democrats and 12 (44.4 percent) are Republicans. This is far more even than the current black caucus. However, a closer look at the 12 black Republican challengers reveals that nine of them are running against other African-Americans. The demographics of many of their districts, which were often gerrymandered to be "majority-minority," make it impractical for either party to run a white candidate. Thus, if a black Republican wins a House race this fall, it is unlikely that their district will "flip" from a white member to a black one.

Asian-American Candidates Slowly Increase Their Presence

Because Asian-Americans are relatively new on the political scene, theirs is one of two categories in which challengers equal or outnumber incumbents. Out of 14 Asian-American candidates this year (1.5 percent of all candidates), seven are incumbents (1.4 percent of all incumbents) and seven are challengers. By party, 10 (71.4 percent) are Democrats and four (28.6 percent) are Republicans. Among the seven Asian-American incumbents, five (71.4 percent) are Democrats and two (28.4 percent) are Republicans. Unlike previous categories in which Republican candidates had a larger presence among challengers than among incumbents, Asian-American challengers follow the same patterns as incumbents: five are Democrats and two are Republicans.

Millennials Begin to Make Headway as Candidates

The Millennial caucus (born between 1982 and 2003) is likely underdeveloped because the oldest Millennials are 28 years-old while the minimum age to serve in the House is 25 (the Senate minimum is 30). Eight Millennials are running for office this year (0.9 percent of all candidates), but only one, Aaron Schock from Illinois, is an incumbent. Furthermore, Millennials running for office are overwhelmingly Democrats; six of the eight candidates (75 percent) are Democrats and two (25 percent) are Republicans.

Given the extraordinary diversity of the Millennial generation, the eight Millennials running for Congress this year are not as diverse as one might expect. All of them are male, and none of them are black or Latino. Two of the candidates, both Democrats, are Indian-American.