In the new Congress, Democrats will hold 99 of the 117 seats in which minorities constitute a population majority. But their performance is much less impressive in the band of seats just above, and below, the national average in diversity. In the new Congress, Republicans hold a slight 23-19 edge in the districts where minorities represent above 40 percent and not more than 50 percent of the population, and a broader 48-28 lead in the seats where minorities represent above 30 percent and not more than 40 percent of the residents.
The key to the Democrats' loss of Congress, as we reported here, is their near-total collapse in heavily white seats, particularly those blue-collar places with fewer white college graduates. But in their struggle to regain a majority, these modestly diverse districts represent a critical target for Democrats—as a historical comparison makes clear. In the new Congress, Democrats will hold 146 of the 235 seats where minorities equal at least three-tenths of the total population, or 62 percent. That's down significantly from the 84 percent they controlled of the 109 seats that fit that definition in 1993.