Aims: Identify which groups are poorly represented in US politics and the reasons why.
US Presidents There have been 44 US Presidents: All of them have been male Barack Obama is the only President to have an ethnic minority background There has never been a female President or even a female Presidential candidate.
Female Representation Women make up 51 % of the US population but after the elections in 2008 only 14% of Congress was female. The female vote is important because there are more female voters in the electorate. Women are more likely to vote for the Democratic party. It is argued that high profile female politicians like Hilary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi have helped to encourage greater female participation.
Reasons For Poor Representation Many women are reluctant to put themselves forward as candidates. In many parts of the USA, the traditional role of wife and mother is very strong and women are discouraged from participating in politics. Many argue that it is easier for those already ‘in office’ (mainly men) to get re-elected.
Ethnic Minority Representation After the 2008 election ethnic minorities accounted for just under 14% of Congress. Remember that ethnic minorities make up around 34% of the US Population. Ethnic minorities are better represented in the House of Representatives than the Senate. There has been a steady increase in the number of ethnic minority elected officials at state and local level e.g. as mayor, sheriffs and police chiefs
Reasons For Poor Representation Ethnic minorities are less likely to join political parties and try to stand for election. It is argued that ethnic minorities face discrimination and prejudice from white voters who are reluctant to vote for them. Ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, less likely to vote and less likely to stand for election. Candidates in US elections have to raise huge sums of money to fight elections. Ethnic minority candidates have a greater chance of being elected in areas where there is a high number of ethnic minority voters.