The 2016 election may go down as the year of the angry white voter, but a book coauthored by a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, finds a quiet revolution taking place in the country: the ascension of women and men of color to elected office.
In Contested Transformation: Race, Gender and Political Leadership in 21st Century America, Pei-te Lien, professor of political science, and her three coauthors--Carol Fanta, senior fellow in the Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston; Dianne Pinderhughes, professor in the Departments of Political Science and Africana Studies at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.; and Christine Marie Sierra, professor emerita of political science at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque--have produced the first comprehensive study of elected racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.
"It's the first of its kind in terms of the multiple levels of offices," Lien says, "from the local all the way to Congress and the presidency. We created a benchmark survey that put women of color at the center of analysis."
The book encompasses more than 12,000 elected officials in its data set, and reveals how a rapid and continuous racial transformation in the U.S. since the 1960s has, in turn, changed the political landscape across the country. Latinos, for example, have grown from 3.5% of the population in 1960 to almost 20% today. Asian-Americans have gone from less than one percent in 1960 to more than five percent, and are expected to become the largest immigrant group, surpassing Latinos, by 2055. African-American numbers have held steady, while whites, 85% of the population in 1960, are expected to be 47% in 2050.
Those changes in demographics have led to a transformation in the number of women of color in elected...