An argument: Democrats need candidates who can appeal to white voters

This is an issue I’ve seen mentioned in a few places now: the Democratic Party has some difficulty in recruiting minority candidates who can win the white support that is needed to be able to be elected for offices beyond the House. Here is some of the analysis from National Journal:

Of the 75 black, Hispanic, and Asian-American Democrats in Congress and governorships, only nine represent majority-white constituencies—and that declines to six in 2011. Two of the party’s rising black stars who sought statewide office this year were rejected by their party’s own base. And when you only look at members of Congress or governors elected by majority-white constituencies (in other words, most of the governorships and Senate seats, and 337 out of 435 House seats), Democrats trail Republicans in minority representation.

In fact, Republicans experienced a diversity boomlet this year. Cognizant of their stuffy national image, party leaders made a concerted effort to recruit a more diverse crop of candidates. That resulted in more than doubling the number of minority elected officials from six to 13—and a ten-fold increase (from one to 10) in the number of minorities representing majority-white constituencies.

The numbers reflect an inconvenient reality—even with their more diverse caucus, Democrats face the same challenges as Republicans in recruiting, nominating, and electing minority candidates to statewide office and in majority-white suburban and rural districts. The vast majority of black and Hispanic members hail from urban districts that don’t require crossover votes to win, or represent seats designed to elect minorities. They are more liberal than the average Democrat, no less the average voter, making it more difficult to run statewide campaigns.

These are far from trivial facts. This means Democrats lack a bench of minority candidates who can run for statewide office, no less national office. Most Democratic minorities make a career in the House, accruing seniority and influence but lacking broad-based political support.

How this issue is addressed by both political parties could have a significant impact on American politics in the next few decades. As the demographics in America continue to change away from a large white majority, I would expect that more minority candidates will be elected to such offices. But whether these changes reflect, even roughly, the demographics of the country or specific states, remains to be seen.

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