White men still dominate electoral politics in California, though not by as wide a margin as the entire nation, a new report finds.
White men represent two of every three names appearing on the ballot in 2012 and 2014 from the federal level down to counties, according to the “Who Runs (in) America?” report released Thursday by the Reflective Democracy Campaign of the Women Donors Network. Overall, 90 percent of candidates are white, 73 percent are men, and 66 percent are white men.
In California, 68 percent of candidates are white, 76 percent are men, and 54 percent are white men.
The demographics of candidates almost exactly match the demographics of those who hold elected office, as shown by the national “Who Leads Us?” report that the campaign released last fall. Of 42,000 people who hold office from the federal government down to the county level, 90 percent are white, 71 percent are men, and 65 percent are white men.
“The stark imbalance between the demographics of the American people and their elected officials will not change until voters have the opportunity to choose among candidates who reflect their communities,” Women Donors Network CEO Donna Hall said in a news release. “Women are half the population and people of color are almost 40 percent, and it’s time the people on our ballots reflect that.”
The new study analyzed more than 51,000 candidates running in nearly 38,000 elections in 2012 and 2014, and found the imbalance is a bipartisan problem. While 96 percent of Republican candidates are white, so are 82 percent of Democrats and 90 percent of independents; woman make up 24 percent of GOP candidates and 33 percent of Democratic candidates.
“This data shows that the problem is not that women and people of color candidates aren’t winning—in fact, they’re winning at the same rates as men and white candidates,” campaign director Brenda Choresi Carter said in the release. “The problem is that the demographics of our office holders are set when our ballots are printed.”
That is, the population that runs for office skews towards those who can afford not to hold a regular, full-time job; people who are connected to political networks; and people who aren’t perceived as “risky” by the political parties, donors, and other gatekeepers who select candidates, the report said.