A first every look at nearly every elected official in Mississippi is showing an over-representation of white men. M-The imbalance has an impact on what issues governments address.....
The Representative Democracy Campaign performed the first every account of every official from the county level to Washington to get a clearer picture of who is filling the political ranks.
Director Brenda Carter says in Mississippi white males make up 41-percent of elected officials but just 28-percent of the population.
"We found a really quite starteling level of concentration of political power in the hands of white men. In a country that is almost 40% people of color and half women, it really speaks to a lack of access of political power," Carter said.
The national average is 65-percent of all elected officials are white men, despite them representing 31-percent of the population.
Carter says Mississippi actually fares well on racial representation, with black men over represented by a few points and black women nearly on par.
However, she says there appears to be a limit to how high they can rise.
"Women and people of are making some inroads into elected office in the lwoer levels in Mississippi which accounts for the better percentages overall. But it is very clear from looking at the top level offices of the state that they are not making it up into those upper reaches," Carter said.
Jackson State University political science professor Leniece Smith says an imbalance of representation actually makes it even harder for women and minorities to have their voices heard.
"Because not only the policy that comes out about social issues and political issues. But it is self perpetuating because of election rules. Who can run and win office. So if those rules are skewed toward white men, then white men are going to run and win office," Smith said.
According to the the Representative Democracy Campaign, Mississippi ranks 29th overall for proportional representation.