Most Diverse Congress? It’s Relative

The 114th Congress that convened this week is being called the most diverse in history.  That is a bit misleading. Relative to prior sessions, yes, but far from reflecting the nation as a whole.

I am reminded of the dog food company that advertised its product as "half horse meat and half rabbit meat."  When sued for false advertising it came out that the company's definition of half and half meant one horse to one rabbit.

For all the talk of diversity, the GOP remains a monochromatic party.  It is 87 percent white male, compared to 43 percent for Democrats. All but one of the 300 Republicans in the new Congress identify themselves Christians; the exception is a Jewish freshman from Long Island

To say that the number of African-American Republicans has tripled is impressive until you realize that the actual number is three. 

Compare that to 43 Democrats and you see it is not so impressive.

Mia Love (R-Utah) is the first African-American Republican woman in Congress.  Ever.  On the Democratic side of the aisle are 19 black women. The first was Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York 45 years ago.

Women comprise 51 percent of the national population but only about 20 percent of the Congress.  There are 22 Republican women and 62 Democrats in the new House plus six Republican women and14 Democrats in the Senate.

The Jewish population of the 114th is down to 28 (a drop of five from the 113th and 11 fewer than the 112th). Only one is a Republican, Lee Zeldin of New York; there were none, briefly, after Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) resigned last year following a primary defeat.

There are nine Jewish Democrats and one Independent in the Senate, plus 18 more Jewish Democrats in the House.  You can see the full list here

Jews are five percent of the 114th Congress, compared to two percent of the national population. Christians comprise 92 percent of the Congress.

There are 16 Mormons (2 D, 14 R), two Buddhists (D), two Muslims (D) and one Hindu (D).

There are seven openly gay Democrats, including two Jews, but no openly gay Republicans in this Congress. 

One category where Republicans dominate is Native Americans, two-to-zero.  Both are from Oklahoma.

Rounding out the racial makeup of this Congress are 442 whites, 46 blacks (43 D, 3 R), 33 Hispanics (24 D, 12 R) and 11 Asian-Americans (all D)

For more details go here, here and here.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.