More Than 6% of the Population But Less Than 1% of Elected Officials?

ID: dark blue background with the words "advance AAPI Power"

By: Brenda Choresi Carter, Campaign Director, The Reflective Democracy Campaign

The Reflective Democracy Campaign has just released our first-of-its kind report mapping AAPI political leadership in the USA, #advanceAAPIpower

Against the backdrop of mounting anti-Asian violence, we found that the AAPI community is the most politically under-represented demographic group in America, even in states with high AAPI concentrations like New York, Nevada, and California. At 6.1% of the population, AAPI people are just 0.9% of elected officials.

But the leadership of AAPI officeholders – especially women – in the progressive movement far exceeds their small numbers. From Senators Mazie Hironino and Tammy Duckworth and Congresswomen Pramila Jayapal and Judy Chu, to Attorneys General William Tong (CT) and Rob Bonta (CA) and Vice-President Kamala Harris, AAPI leaders are shaping politics and policy – and changing the face of power – at a critical moment.

Key takeaways from our report include:

  • AAPI candidates are highly electable, representing incredibly diverse constituents and regularly garnering support from a wide range of voters. 
  • AAPI under-representation is about the systemic barriers faced by AAPI people seeking to run for office.
  • The AAPI community urgently needs improved representation to address issues from health care inequities to disproportionate deportations. 

The exclusion of Asian Americans from political power mirrors the history of AAPI exclusion and erasure from American society. But the success of AAPI officeholders in districts of widely varying demographics underscores the reality that voters of all kinds want a change from the old boys’ club still dominating politics.

We hope our research will shift the outdated perceptions of party officials and major donors, who for too long have kept political power concentrated in the hands of a narrow slice of the American people. We encourage you to share the report page on social media or in your materials, and we welcome any thoughts or feedback you might have.

The Reflective Democracy Campaign investigates and disrupts the demographics of power in the United States. Our groundbreaking data and analysis expose the stark race and gender imbalances between our elected officials and our country’s population, and we fund catalytic organizing that builds community-based power to shift the political status quo. Founded by the Women Donors Network in 2014, the Reflective Democracy Campaign was formed to pursue a democracy where all of us are reflected in the halls of power. For more information on the Reflective Democracy Campaign, visit wholeads.us and follow @WhoLeadsUs, or contact us at hello@WhoLeads.us.

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