Communities of Color Elected Representation
United States
Washington Oregon California Idaho Nevada Montana Wyoming Utah Arizona Colorado New Mexico North Dakota South Dakota Nebraska Kansas Oklahoma Texas Minnesota Iowa Missouri Arkansas Louisiana Wisconsin Illinois Mississippi Michigan Indiana Kentucky Tennessee Alabama Ohio West Virginia Virginia Washington DC North Carolina South Carolina Georgia Florida Maryland Pennsylvania New Jersey Delaware New York Connecticut Rhode Island Massachusetts Vermont New Hampshire Maine Alaska Hawaii

Communities of Color are expected to comprise the majority of the American population by 2044, yet members of communities of color continue to be underrepresented in elective office. According to a data from Who Leads Us, a project of the New Organizing Institute Reflective Democracy Campaign, Communities of Color made up only 11 percent of America’s elected officials in 2014. Structural barriers play a major role in this continued underrepresentation, particularly access to and support from donor networks. As a 2015 Demos report found, more than 90 percent of political donations come from neighborhoods that are predominantly white. Of the top 42 contributors to Super PACs in 2014, just 7 were women and none were Communities of Color. The racial imbalance of states’ elected officials must be corrected and made more reflective of states as a whole to ensure a strong, healthy democracy.

Drawing on data from Who Leads Us, this report gives higher scores to states in which the ratio of their elected officials from communities of color most closely corresponds to the state’s overall minority population. Vermont, at the top of the list, has a small community of color that comprises just 6 percent of the population, and its elected officials of color actually surpass that, at 7 percent. Mississippi has proportional representation: 44 percent of its population is Communities of Color, and 44 percent of its elected officials are.

For a more detailed explanation of each factor, including citations, please download the full report.

Click to view scoring methodology
  1. State's Performance
    Points added to score
  2. Ratio of representation is equal to or greater than 1
    0 points
  3. Among states ranked 3–5
    1 points
  4. Among states ranked 6-10
    2 points
  5. Among states ranked 11-15
    3 points
  6. Among states ranked 16-20
    4 points
  7. Among states ranked 21-25
    5 points
  8. Among states ranked 26-30
    6 points
  9. Among states ranked 31-35
    7 points
  10. Among states ranked 36-40
    8 points
  11. Among states ranked 41-45
    9 points
  12. Among states ranked 46-51
    10 points
Policy Recommendation for This Factor

Unlike a number of other factors in this report, increasing the share ofCommunities of color elected representation does not lend itself to a single policy recommendation provided. Instead, many different policy recommendations included in this report will help communities of color increase their elected representation. In particular, recommendations to modernize voter registration and eliminate barriers to participation and representation are steps to give under-represented voting populations more of a voice in the political process. To see the full list of policy recommendations to improve the health of state democracies based on the findings of this report, click here.

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Press Contact: Benton Strong at Bstrong@americanprogressaction.org 202-481-8142

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