Some progressive activists and journalists enjoy stereotyping Republicans as a clique of old, white men, though a survey of the 2016 presidential field suggests otherwise.
As we’ve pointed out at the congressional level, Republicans are generally much younger than Democrats, and the 2014 GOP freshman class included the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, the first African-American female Republican member, the first black senator elected in the post-reconstruction South and the first female U.S. senator who’s a military veteran.
Similarly, the 2016 Republican presidential field is also brimming with greater ethnic and generational diversity — in stark contrast with the Democrats. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with older, white men, but the Left frequently touts its appeal to a “rainbow coalition” of ethnic and racial minorities.
Nevertheless, look at what the Democrats either have on offer currently or may serve up soon: Lincoln Chafee, Martin O’Malley, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb and Joe Biden. That is an entirely white field with just one woman and five men, whose average age is 65.83. When your average Democratic presidential contender is old enough to qualify for Medicare, that certainly raises questions about who will speak for the future and who speaks for the past. Some 67 percent of potential or declared Democratic presidential candidates are 65 and older, compared to just 24 percent of Republicans.
Source: The New York Times
The crowded GOP field of 17 candidates sees that one Democratic female candidate with a woman of its own (Carly Fiorina), and also raises an Indian-American (Bobby Jindal), an African-American (Ben Carson) and two Latinos (Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio).
The Republican field also includes a white candidate married to a Latina with biracial children (Jeb Bush). Strategists should not underestimate these Bush family ties in the wake of Bill DeBlasio’s mayoral victory in New York City. A powerful ad from DeBlasio’s son, Dante, a biracial African-American, led many observers to claim the message carried his father to victory.
While the GOP presidential field does include older white men, the average age of all 17 candidates is 57.41, or 15 percent younger than Democrats. Yet winnowing the Republicans based on polling, as Fox News did for its recent debate, the average age of those most viable 10 candidates drops to 55.5, or 19 percent younger than their likely Democratic rivals.
Republicans also bring geographic diversity. The candidates hail from a range of states, coast to coast, while the Democratic field is clustered inside the northeastern seaboard. How can Americans from diverse environs expect to have their issues addressed by Democrats who have governed such a relatively narrow swath of land?
Sure, the GOP has its share of northeasterners like Chris Christie, Donald Trump, George Pataki, and Rick Santorum. But in contrast, Fiorina also brings California’s high-tech savvy; Jindal, Mike Huckabee and Lindsey Graham bring a Southern flair; Rick Perry and Cruz represent the Lone Star State’s maverick independence. The Heartland sensibility is well represented by Scott Walker, John Kasich, and Rand Paul; the mid-Atlantic states are rounded out by Carson and Jim Gilmore; and Bush and Rubio bring Florida sunshine.
Republicans also have greater occupational diversity, including greater experience in the private sector, from high-profile careers in surgery (Paul, Carson), tech (Fiorina) and real estate (Trump). Yes Democrat Chaffee was a farrier — caring for horses’ hooves sounds exotic, though the market seems limited. All of the other Democrats have spent their lives in government, spending rather than creating tax revenues.
It’s clear that for this 2016 presidential cycle voters will be offered a stark contrast: a party that brings dynamism and vibrancy or a party from a greying generation with a worldview trapped inside the Northeast corridor.
Carrie Sheffield is a Senior Writer for Opportunity Lives. You can follow her on Twitter @carriesheffield and on Facebook.