The chart below details the demographic breakdown of each party in the Senate:
There are seven new Senate members following the 2016 elections, including five Democrats and two Republicans. Meanwhile, 36 members have served less than one full six-year term. A mere 14 senators come from states that the other party’s presidential candidate carried in 2016, but that includes a sizable 23 percent of Democrats and just 6 percent of Republicans. In particular, 10 of the 11 Democrats in Trump states face an upcoming election in 2018, while just one of the three Republicans in a Clinton state does.
Democrats matched their all-time record of 16 women, who now make up a record proportion of 33 percent of the party’s members. Just five Republicans are women, constituting only 10 percent of the Senate GOP. Combined, women are 21 percent of the Senate, which is an all-time record—but that’s still far short of attaining parity or even matching many of our peer democracies in Europe and Canada.
Senate Democrats saw an increase of three more non-white faces in 2016, with their total number of racial or ethnic minorities doubling to six. That’s still a mere 13 percent of the party’s members, but it’s more than double the 6 percent of Senate Republicans who are minorities. Overall, only 9 percent of senators are non-white, compared to 38 percent of the country’s population as a whole.
Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who was first elected in 2012, remains the only openly LGBTQ member in Senate history. Overall, the Senate is still dominated by heterosexual white men at 74 percent of the total membership, but there are stark disparities by party. While 85 percent of Senate Republicans are heterosexual white men, just 62 percent of Democrats are.
We’ve also summarized the House in a similar chart:
The lower chamber added 55 new members in the 2016 elections, including 26 Democrats and 29 Republicans. A hefty 43 percent of members have served less than six full years in the House, which has seen tremendous turnover in the past decade despite the frequency at which incumbents get re-elected (97 percent of sitting members who sought another term in 2016 prevailed). According to our preliminary calculations, 35 House members hold districts that voted for the other party’s presidential candidate, or just 8 percent of the total.
Unlike the Senate, women actually lost ground in the House compared to the 2014 elections, and they comprise just 19 percent of the lower chamber. However, just like the Senate, there is a wide gap between the parties. Democrats matched their all-time record of 62 women, but since the Democratic caucus gained six members in 2016, the proportion of women fell slightly to 32 percent. However, that’s still far more than the mere 9 percent of House Republicans who are women.
Racial and ethnic minorities make up a much larger proportion of the House than in the Senate thanks in large part to the Voting Rights Act, which mandates the creation of majority-minority districts. Democrats set a new record of 83 non-white members, or 43 percent of their total caucus, while a mere 11 Republicans are minorities—just 5 percent. That brings the overall total to 22 percent of the chamber, which is more than double the proportion of the Senate, but still far lower than the roughly 38 percent Americans who are members of racial or ethnic minorities.
Openly LGBTQ members saw their numbers hold steady at just six Democrats and zero Republicans, for a mere 1 percent of the chamber. That means that 66 percent of the overall House membership consists of heterosexual white men, but that includes 88 percent of Republicans and only 39 percent of Democrats.
Across both chambers, the members of Congress are disproportionately more male, white, and heterosexual compared to the population. However, Democrats in Congress come dramatically closer to reflecting America’s demographics than Republicans do, and 2016 shows that this phenomenon is unlikely to change any time soon.
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