California has seen a significant uptick in women and people of color running for state legislative office in the last two years.
That’s the finding of a new report,”A Rising Tide? The Changing Demographics on our Ballots,” published by the Reflective Democracy Campaign.
In 2016, 33 percent of legislative candidates in the Golden State were people of color, and little more than a fifth were women.
This year, nearly 46 percent of candidates seeking state legislative office in the Nov. 6 election are people of color and 35 percent are women.
California saw some of the highest increases in diverse candidates between 2016 and 2018. Other states seeing a significant increase include South Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.
California, the report said, also had “a steep increase in reflective candidates.” People of color make up 63 percent of the state population and 46 percent of legislative candidates.
“From 2012 to 2016, white men — only 32% of the population — were 65% of all candidates and 65% of all elected officeholders at the local, state, and federal level,” according to a statement released with the report.
Brenda Choresi Carter, director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign, said in a prepared statement that the change is evidence that “recent movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo have crystallized the need for decision-makers to come from the communities they represent.”
Nationwide, researchers surveyed legislative candidates in 15 states — seven considered the most “reflective” of genders and race diversity and eight that have been historically dominated by white men. They found that fewer white men have run for congress (13 percent fewer) and state legislatures (12 percent fewer) since 2012.
Candidates who are women of color increased by 75 percent in both legislative and congressional races nationwide.
“Women overall increased by 42 percent in Senate and 39 percent in House races,” the report found.
The Democratic Party has seen the most significant increase in diverse congressional candidates; Democratic female congressional candidates increased by 46 percent, compared to a 22 percent increase in Republican female candidates.
In state legislative races, the number of Democratic women of color running increased by 71 percent.
“The race and gender breakdown of Republican state legislature candidates remained relatively unchanged,” the report found, while the number of white Republican men running for governor increased by 8 percent. “Among Democratic candidates for governor, women increased by 67 percent and candidates of color tripled.”
Not every state saw an increase.
Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas and Tennessee all saw a decrease in women candidates.
Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Virginia and Washington, D.C. were not included in the study because data were unavailable, according to the Reflective Democracy Campaign.