The newly sworn-in 113th Congress marks a historic milestone—it’s the most diverse in history. A record number of Blacks, Latinos, Asians and women now hold seats among the 535 Senate and House of Representatives members. And the diversity goes beyond race/ethnicity and gender. Congress is:
- 8 percent Black: a total of 43
- 6 percent Latino: a total of 32
- 5.6 percent Asian: a total of 30
- 18.9 percent women: a total of 101. Read facts about the congresswomen.
- Four Arab Americans and one Caribbean American were also elected to Congress
Diversity in religion and sexual orientation also increased: The first Buddhist senator, Senator Mazie Hirondo; the first Hindu representative, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard; the only Unitarian Universalist, Congresswoman Ami Bera; the first openly gay senator, Senator Tammy Baldwin; the first nonwhite LGBT, Congressman Mark Takano; and the first openly bisexual woman and only atheist, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, were also sworn in.
Among the new faces of the 113th Congress are: 4 Blacks, 10 Latinos, 6 Asians, 5 LGBTs and 24 women. Plus, four of the incoming congressional representatives are of the Millennial generation, born in the 1980s.
Changing Diversity: What Will Election 2016 Look Like?
Will this diverse mindset continue to make its way into the upper echelon of the political parties?
Although diversity made significant headway in the recent election, the overwhelming majority of congressional representatives (80 percent) are white and male. In the House, for example, there are 42 Blacks, 35 Latinos, 11 Asians and 2 American Indians, according to House Press Gallery, but together that accounts for only about one-fifth of all representatives. Moreover, the House has 81 women, which is 18.6 percent of the total number of representatives, but the United States is 50.8 percent women.
But that’s poised to change in the next election. Anticipated diverse candidates on the Democratic side for the 2016 presidential race include three women: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Elizabeth Warren. The GOP’s rising stars include three women: Senator Kelly Ayotte, Governor Nikki Haley and Governor Susana Martinez; three Latinos: Senator Marco Rubio, Governor Brian Sandoval and Martinez; and two Asians: Governor Bobby Jindal and Haley.
The 2012 election results show that voters, particularly Millennials, are more than ready for a change and are looking for leadership that more accurately reflects the country’s increasingly diverse population.
Non-Hispanic white populations will decrease drastically by the year 2050, according to Census Bureau data, from 71.6 percent to 46.3 percent, and Latino populations will increase significantly from 11.3 percent to 30.3 percent. Asian populations will grow to 6.3 percent from 4.4 percent, and Black populations will tick up from 12.8 percent to 12.9 percent. More than half (50.4 percent) of babies born in the United States in 2011 were Black, Latino or Asian, per the Census Bureau.
Additionally, Pew Research reports that Asians are the fastest growing demographic, growing 43.3 percent between 2000 and 2010. Comparatively, the Latino population grew 43 percent, and the Black population grew 12.3 percent. The white population grew 5.7 percent during the same period.
Millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse demographic in history, per Pew Research: 18.5 percent are Latino; 14.2 percent are Black; 4.3 percent are Asian; 3.2 percent are mixed race or other. Only 59.8 percent are white, the lowest percentage to date. In the 2012 election, 60 percent of individuals ages 18-29—which totals 19 percent of all voters—cast ballots for Obama. And just as new and youthful mindsets about diversity helped win this past election, it’s this more-inclusive generation of Millennials that will continue to be a driving force in deciding the outcomes of future elections.