The Washington Post: America’s gender, racial divides on display in House races

The Washington Post, November 1, 2018: America’s gender, racial divides on display in House races

Perhaps nowhere is the choice facing voters on Tuesday more vividly on display than in the battle for control of the U.S. House. Democrats are fielding more women and minority candidates than ever, while Republicans are trying to hold their majority with mostly white men.

Democrats have nominated more than 180 female candidates for the House, a record. But while voters could send more than 100 of them to victory, Republicans could have fewer women than now in their ranks next year due to retirements and tough races. Overall, nearly 9 in 10 House Republicans will be white men when the new Congress convenes in January.

The racial divide is even starker. House Republicans now count just over a dozen minority members, a number that’s not expected to change much after the election. The lack of minorities in the conference comes into sharp visual focus when House Republicans gather in a large group, as they did last December when they celebrated the passage of tax cuts with Trump at the White House.

Political scientists have been debating whether Congress’ low approval rating — now 21 percent — has something to do with lawmakers not seeming to reflect the country they represent. Overall, while the House is closer to reflecting the makeup of the country, which is still majority white, the representation is lopsided between the parties.

“Everyone wants a representative from their community to stand up for their issues,” Barreto said. For the House, he said, “It’s the entire point: They’re representatives.”

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