Voice

BACK TO THE STATE OF OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA FULL REPORT.
For more information on the methodology used, please visit this page. This data was most recently updated on December 18, 2009.

Our democracy depends on the ability of all of us to participate in the public dialogue. Our political system at the federal, state, and local levels has seen increases in the number of senators, representatives, and statewide elected officials who are women and people of color. However, the representation of people of color in American media was mixed, in that the participation of some racial groups increased, while others’ did not.

Voting is an important way to participate in the democratic system. Between the presidential elections in 2004 and 2008, the overall voting rate, the white voting rate, and the male and female voting rates did not change. However, the voting rates for people of color increased, as did the voting rate for 18 to 24 year olds. Interestingly, the voting rate for 45 to 64 year olds decreased.

Our overall assessment indicates that opportunity for voice was mixed for the years examined.

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Political Representation
Media Representation
Voting Rate

Political Representation
Indicator 2009 Update Supporting Data

Gender Diversity in Congress: measures female representation in Congress.1

Up Arrow

As of January 31st 2009, the percentage of women serving in the 111th Congress significantly increased from the 110th Congress, meaning opportunity increased in this area.

  • 111th Congress: 95 female Congresswomen, or 17.8%
  • 110th Congress: 91 female Congresswomen, or 17.0%
  • Change: increased 4.4%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
  • 111th Senate: 17 female Senators, or 17.0%
  • 110th Senate: 16 female Senators, or 16.0%
  • Change: increased 6.25%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
  • 111th House of Representatives: 78 female Representatives, or 17.9%
  • 110th House of Representatives: 75 female Representatives, or 17.2%
  • Change: increased 4.0%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Congress: measures racial and ethnic diversity in Congress. (Note: includes the appointment of Roland Burris, an African American, to fill the vacant Illinois Senate seat which occurred after the release of the data sources.)2

Up Arrow

Hispanic and Asian Pacific Islander representation in the 111th Congress increased significantly from the 110th Congress, while African American and American Indian representation remained constant, meaning opportunity increased in this area.

African American

  • 111th Congress: 42 African American Congresspeople, or 9.7%
  • 110th Congress: 42 African American Congresspeople, or 9.7%
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
  • 111th Senate: 1 African American Senator, or 1.0%
  • 110th Senate: 1 African American Senator, or 1.0%
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
  • 111th House of Representatives: 41 African American Representatives, or 9.4%
  • 110th House of Representatives: 41 African American Representatives, or 9.4%
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Hispanic

  • 111th Congress: 31 Hispanic Congresspeople, or 5.8%
  • 110th Congress: 30 Hispanic Congresspeople, or 5.6%
  • Change: increased 3.3%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
  • 111th Senate: 3 Hispanic Senators, or 3.0%
  • 110th Senate: 3 Hispanic Senators, or 3.0%
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
  • 111th House of Representatives: 28 Hispanic Representatives, or 6.4%
  • 110th House of Representatives: 27 Hispanic Representatives, or 6.2%
  • Change: increased 3.7%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Asian Pacific Islander

  • 111th Congress: 11 A/PI Congresspeople, or 2.1%
  • 110th Congress: 8 A/PI Congresspeople, or 1.5%
  • Change: increased 37.5%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
  • 111th Senate: 2 A/PI Senators, or 2.0%
  • 110th Senate: 2 A/PI Senators, or 2.0%
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
  • 111th House of Representatives: 9 A/PI Representatives, or 2.1%
  • 110th House of Representatives: 6 A/PI Representatives, or 1.4%
  • Change: increased 50.0%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

American Indian

  • 111th Congress: 1 American Indian Congressperson, or 0.19%
  • 110th Congress: 1 American Indian Congressperson, or 0.19%
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
  • 111th Senate: 0 American Indian Senators, or 0.0%
  • 110th Senate: 0 American Indian Senators, or 0.0%
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
  • 111th House of Representatives: 1 American Indian Representative person, or 0.19%
  • 110th House of Representatives: 1 American Indian Representative person, or 0.19%
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Gender Diversity Among State/Local Elected Officials: the number and percentage of women in state legislatures and statewide elected office.3

Up Arrow

Between 2008 and 2009, representation of women in elected state and local offices increased significantly, and therefore opportunity increased in this area.

Executive Offices

  • 2009: 74 female officers, or 23.9%, of statewide elected offices were held by women
  • 2008: 73 female officers, or 23.2%, of statewide elected offices were held by women
  • Change: increased 3.0%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

State Legislatures

  • 2009: 1787 female legislators, or 24.2%, of state legislators were women
  • 2008: 1751 female legislators, or 23.7%, of state legislators were women
  • Change: increased 2.1%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
 

 

  1. CRS Report for Congress, Membership of the 110th Congress: A Profile, updated November 20, 2008, pg 5, available at http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-publish.cfm?pid='0DP%2BP%2CO%3E%23%40%20%20%0A and International Herald Tribune, “By The Numbers: A Profile of the 111th Congress,” January 6, 2009, available at http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/01/06/america/New-Congress-Glance.php.
  2. CRS Report for Congress, Membership of the 110th Congress: A Profile, updated November 20, 2008, pg 5, available at http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-publish.cfm?pid='0DP%2BP%2CO%3E%23%40%20%20%0A and International Herald Tribune, “By The Numbers: A Profile of the 111th Congress,” available at http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2009/01/06/america/New-Congress-Glance.php.
  3. Center for American Women in Politics, Women in Elective Office 2008 and Center for American Women in Politics, Women in Elective Office 2009, pg 2, available at http://www.cawp.rutgers.edu/fast_facts/levels_of_office/documents/elective.pdf.

 

Media Representation
Indicator 2009 Update Supporting Data

Diversity in Newspaper Workforce: measures the number and percentage of people of color employed as full-time journalists between 2007 and 2008. (Note: totals and percentages may not add up due to rounding).1

Mixed Results

The number of full-time newspaper employees fell from 2007 to 2008. However, during this time period, diversity in the newspaper workforce changed—the proportion of various subgroups in the newspaper industry increased, decreased, or remained stagnant, and therefore opportunity in this area was mixed during this time.

Overall

  • 2008: 53,598 employees
  • 2007: 55,045 employees
  • Change: decreased 4.4%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Men

  • 2008: 62.6%, or 32,947, of workforce was male
  • 2007: 62.4%, or 34,358, of workforce was male
  • Change: the percentage increased 0.32%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Women

  • 2008: 37.4%, or 19,651, of workforce was female
  • 2007: 37.6%, or 20,687, of workforce was female
  • Change: the percentage decreased 0.53%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

White

  • 2008: 86.5%, or 45,485, of workforce was white
  • 2007: 86.6%, or 47,653, of workforce was white
  • Change: the percentage decreased 0.11%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Black

  • 2008: 5.3%, or 2,790, of workforce was black
  • 2007: 5.3%, or 2,900, of workforce was black
  • Change: the percentage increased 0.68%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Hispanic

  • 2008: 4.5%, or 2,346, of workforce was Hispanic
  • 2007: 4.4%, or 2,404, of workforce was Hispanic
  • Change: the percentage increased 2.1%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Asian

  • 2008: 3.2%, or 1,692, of workforce was Asian
  • 2007: 3.2%, or 1,764, of workforce was Asian
  • Change: the percentage increased 0.38%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

American Indian

  • 2008: 0.54%, or 284, of workforce was American Indian
  • 2007: 0.59%, or 324 of workforce was American Indian
  • Change: the percentage decreased 8.3%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Diversity in radio and TV Broadcast News Media: measures the percentage of people of color in the broadcast news workforce. (Note: only percentages were available; data for women was unavailable).2

Mixed Results

Diversity in broadcast news media changed from 2006 to 2007—the proportion of African Americans in television and radio increased and the proportion of Americans Indians in radio increased, while the proportion of other groups decreased or remained stagnant during this time. Therefore, opportunity was mixed in this area.

Television

Caucasian
  • 2007: 78.5% of workforce
  • 2006: 77.8% of workforce
  • Change: increased 0.9%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
African American
  • 2007: 10.1% of workforce
  • 2006: 9.5% of workforce
  • Change: increased 6.3%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
Hispanic
  • 2007: 8.7% of workforce
  • 2006: 9.6% of workforce
  • Change: decreased 9.4%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
Asian American
  • 2007: 2.3% of workforce
  • 2006: 2.7% of workforce
  • Change: decreased 14.8%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
American Indian
  • 2007: 0.4% of workforce
  • 2006: 0.5% of workforce
  • Change: decreased 20.0%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Radio

Caucasian
  • 2007: 93.8% of workforce
  • 2006: 93.6% of workforce
  • Change: increased 0.21%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
African American
  • 2007: 3.3% of workforce
  • 2006: 2.5% of workforce
  • Change: increased 32.0%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
Hispanic
  • 2007: 0.7% of workforce
  • 2006: 1.9% of workforce
  • Change: decreased 63.2%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
Asian American
  • 2007: 1.1% of workforce
  • 2006: 1.8% of workforce
  • Change: decreased 38.9%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
American Indian
  • 2007: 1.1% of workforce
  • 2006: 0.2% of workforce
  • Change: increased 450%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
 

 

  1. The American Society of Newspaper Editors, Newsroom Employment Census, Detailed Tables, April 29, 2008, Tables B, C and M, available at http://www.asne.org/index.cfm?id=1138.
  2. B. Papper, “Women and Minorities in the Newsroom, The Communicator, July/August 2008, p. 21, available at http://www.rtnda.org/media/pdfs/communicator/2007/julaug/20-25_Survey_Communicator.pdf.

 

Voting Rate
Indicator 2009 Update Supporting Data

Voting Rate - Overall: measures the change in the voting rate between the 2004 and 2008 elections.1

Note: 2004 and 2008 have been chosen as a means of comparing Presidential election years, when turnout would be expected to be similar.

Stagnant

From 2004 to 2008, the overall voting rate did not significantly change, therefore, opportunity was relatively constant during this time.

  • 2008: 58.2%
  • 2004: 58.3%
  • Change: decreased 0.17%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Voting Rate - Race: measures the change in the voting rate by race between the 2004 and 2008 elections.2

Up

From 2004 to 2008, the voting rate for all racial groups significantly increased except for whites, which remained relatively constant. Therefore, opportunity in this area increased during this time.

White

  • 2008: 64.8%
  • 2004: 65.8%
  • Change: decreased 1.5%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Black

  • 2008: 60.8%
  • 2004: 56.3%
  • Change: increased 8.0%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Asian

  • 2008: 32.1%
  • 2004: 29.8%
  • Change: increased 7.7%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Hispanic

  • 2008: 31.6%
  • 2004: 28.0%
  • Change: increased 12.9%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Voting Rate - Gender: measures the change in the voting rate by gender between the 2004 and 2008 elections.3

Stagnant

From 2004 to 2008, the overall voting rate for men and women did not significantly change. Therefore, opportunity in this area stayed relatively constant during this time.

Men

  • 2008: 55.7%
  • 2004: 56.3%
  • Change: decreased 1.1%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Women

  • 2008: 60.4%
  • 2004: 60.1%
  • Change: increased 0.50%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Voting Rate - Age: measures the change in the voting rate by age between the 2004 and 2008 elections.4

Mixed Results

From 2004 to 2008, the overall voting rate for 18-24 year olds significantly increased, while the voting rate for 45-64 year olds significantly decreased—other age groups did not significantly change. Therefore, opportunity in this area was mixed during this time.

18-24 Year Olds

  • 2008: 44.3%
  • 2004: 41.9%
  • Change: increased 5.7%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

25-44 Year Olds

  • 2008: 51.9%
  • 2004: 52.2%
  • Change: decreased 0.57%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

45-64 Year Olds

  • 2008: 65.0%
  • 2004: 66.6%
  • Change: decreased 2.4%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

65 Year Olds and Over

  • 2008: 68.1%
  • 2004: 68.9%
  • Change: decreased 1.2%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
 

 

  1. U.S. Census Bureau, Voting and Registration, Historical Time Series Table A-1 accessed on October 13, 2009 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/historical/index.html.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, Voting and Registration, Historical Time Series Table A-1 accessed on October 13, 2009 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/historical/index.html.
  3. U.S. Census Bureau, Voting and Registration, Historical Time Series Table A-1 accessed on October 13, 2009 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/historical/index.html.
  4. U.S. Census Bureau, Voting and Registration, Historical Time Series Table A-1 accessed on October 13, 2009 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/socdemo/voting/publications/historical/index.html.