Hill Diversity

Chart 1: State Director Diversity vs. U.S. Population

Racial Diversity Among U.S. Senate State Directors Lags Behind Diversity in U.S. Population 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 4, 2022

CONTACT:
Victoria Johnson, victoria@jointcenter.org

Racial Diversity Among U.S. Senate State Directors Lags Behind Diversity in U.S. Population

Senators in office less than 10 years have more diverse state directors
WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies released analysis that shows racial diversity among U.S. Senate state directors is trailing behind the U.S. population’s diversity. The analysis also finds that senators in office less than a decade have more diverse staff.

The Joint Center’s analysis finds that people of color make up 40 percent of the U.S. population, but only 24.2 percent of Senate state directors.

The research follows the Joint Center’s August 2020 report, Racial Diversity Among Top Staff in Senate Personal Offices, that defines personal office top staff as all chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors in the Washington, DC personal offices of  U.S. Senators.  The Joint Center followed up with this research because some senators have people of color in state director roles and may consider these staff to be part of their office leadership.

“Senators must hire diverse state directors to manage their office(s) because these staffers develop and supervise programs for constituents and ensure that their perspectives are represented in the legislative process. So, it is essential to understand the demographic makeup of the state directors who manage these offices,” said Dr. LaShonda Brenson, senior researcher at the Joint Center and scholar behind this analysis. “The lack of diverse staff impairs the ability of senators to understand the diverse perspectives of their states and effectively represent all Americans.”

The analysis is below:

The Joint Center analyzed the diversity of Senate staff in state offices who responded to the survey as of Jan. 31, 2022. The Joint Center’s analysis finds that people of color make up 40 percent of the U.S. population, but only 24.2 percent of Senate state directors.

Latina/os, African Americans, Native Americans, and Middle Eastern/North Africans are underrepresented among Senate state directors when compared to their percentage of the U.S. population. Latina/os are 18.2 percent of the U.S. population, but only 8.1 percent of Senate state directors. African Americans account for 12.2 percent of the U.S. population, but only 7.1 percent of Senate state directors. Native Americans/Native Hawaiians are 0.8 percent of the U.S. population and Middle Eastern/North Africans are 0.5 percent of the U.S. population, but there are currently no Native American/Native Hawaiian or Middle Eastern/North African state directors.

Chart 1: State Director Diversity vs. U.S. Population

Chart 1: State Director Diversity vs. U.S. Population

Chart 2: State Director Diversity vs. U.S. Population, Detailed Breakdown

Chart 2: State Director Diversity vs. U.S. Population, Detailed Breakdown

*Race and ethnicity questions are asked separately, so the percentages will not add up to 100%.

Senators with less than 10 years in office have more diverse state directors when compared to their more senior colleagues. People of color account for 38.5 percent of state directors in the offices of senators who have served for five or fewer years. This percentage is 29.2 percent in Senate state offices who have served in office from five to 10 years. People of color account for 9.5 percent of state directors for senators who served from 10 to 15 years and 17.9 percent for senators who served for 15 or more years.

Chart 3: State Director Diversity, by Tenure of Senator

Chart 3: State Director Diversity, by Tenure of Senator

Diversity among state directors increases as the diversity in a region’s population increases. In addition, senators in the Northeast region have the smallest gap between the percent of people of color population in the region and the percent of diverse state directors (25.6 percent vs. 22.2 percent). Senators in the Midwest region have the most significant gap between the percent of people of color population in the region and the percent of diverse state directors (22 percent vs. 12.5 percent).

Chart 4: State Director Diversity, by Region

Chart 4: State Director Diversity, by Region

Democratic Senate state directors seem to be more reflective of their party’s voters of color than Republican Senate state directors. People of color account for 36 percent of state directors in Democratic offices and approximately 37.9 percent of President Biden’s voters during the 2020 general election. However, people of color account for about 12.2 percent of state directors in Republican offices, but approximately 29.6 percent of former President Trump’s 2020 overall voters during the general election.

Chart 5: State Director Diversity, by Party vs. Presidential Vote Share

Chart 5: State Director Diversity, by Party vs. Presidential Vote Share

We applaud the following U.S. Senate state offices that have a state director who identifies as a person of color in January 2022.

About the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies: The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, America’s Black think tank, provides compelling and actionable policy solutions to eradicate persistent and evolving barriers to the full freedom of Black people in America. We are the trusted forum for leading experts and scholars to participate in major public policy debates and promote ideas that advance Black communities. We use evidence-based research, analysis, convenings, and strategic communications to support Black communities and a network of allies.

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