The stamp of diversity on midterm polls

The U.S. is increasingly diverse and census calculations project that by the year 2044, the White population of the country will be less than half of the total. The growing diversity appears to be reflecting on the political arena, though differentially, for the Democrats and the Republicans.

In the current U.S House, about 86% of Republican representatives are White and male; among Democrats, the share of White males is 41%. Even as Republicans try to reinforce their support among the White base, multiple minority groups and women are expanding their influence in the Democratic Party.

Twenty-one openly LGBTQ candidates won Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate or House this year — more than at any other time in U.S. history, according to the organisation ‘LGBTQ Victory Fund’. This number of nominees marks a 24% increase when compared to the 2016 election cycle and a 320% increase since 2010, it said in a report recently.

A record seven known LGBTQ candidates ran for Governor this year, and four will appear on ballot in November. The four nominees represent the full LGBT acronym, with one lesbian (Lupe Valdez of Texas), one gay man (Jared Polis of Colorado), one bisexual woman (Kate Brown of Oregon) and one transgender woman (Christine Hallquist of Vermont), Victory Fund pointed out. Ms. Brown became the first openly bisexual Governor in the history of the country in 2015. All LGBTQ candidates this year are Democrats.

An unprecedented number of women are contesting the elections this time. Democrats have nominated 182 women candidates and Republicans have 53, for House and Senate, while hundreds of others are in the fray in various other levels. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are likely to become the first Muslim women to enter U.S. Congress. Ms. Tlaib is a Palestinian American running from Michigan’s 13th Congressional District. Ms. Omar is contesting from Minneapolis. Both were State legislators earlier. In the U.S, 1.1 % population is Muslim, but their representation in Congress is only 0.4%.

Native Americans

The U.S. is also likely to have its first native American woman in Congress. Deb Haaland, a member of the Pueblo of Laguna, is the Democratic candidate for New Mexico’s First Congressional District and she is likely to win. Ms. Haaland was the former chair of the State’s Democratic Party. There are two native Americans in the current U.S. House — Republican Representatives Markwayne Mullin and Tom Cole, both from Oklahoma.

A record number of 12 Indian Americans are also in the fray for Congress. Three of them are women — Hiral Tipirneni and Anita Malik from Arizona and Pramila Jayapal from Washington State. In 2016, Ms. Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman to enter the House of Representatives, and is expected to win again. In Illinois 8th Congressional district, two Indian Americans are facing each other — incumbent Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi and Jitendra Diganvker of the Republican Party. Aftab Pureval of Cincinnati, Ohio, a 35-year-old son of immigrants from India with Tibetan roots, is also counted among the young crop of rising Democrats.

Democrats have nearly six times more minority members than the Republicans in Congress. There are 94 Democrats from minority communities, which is 39% of the party’s strength, while these groups comprise 38% of the total population. There are 16 minority Republicans, making 5.5% of their total strength. Indian Americans constitute 1% of the U.S population and of the U.S Congress currently.

Varghese K. George works for The Hindu and is based in Washington

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