Why don't white voters elect minority reps to Congress?

The evidence suggests it may be easier for minority Republicans to attract support from white voters than it is for minority Democrats. Only 14 of the 88 minority members in the House are Republicans. But they are eight of the 15 minority House members holding majority white seats. They especially have an edge in districts that are at least 70 percent white. Of those eight seats held by minority Republicans, six are in districts that are 70 percent or more white.

Vargas said the Republican Party has done a considerably better job than Democrats at recruiting and supporting minority candidates in mostly white districts, using a strategy that emphasizes what Vargas calls “crossover appeal”—their ability to appeal to voters outside their demographic. Republicans also tend to fare better in majority-white districts in general, securing 199 of 263 such districts in the new House, as a recent Next America analysis shows.

“They are high-quality candidates who weren’t running as Hispanics,” Vargas says, citing Hispanic Republican Reps. Raul Labrador (Idaho), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Washington), and Alex Mooney (West Virginia) as examples. “They were running as strong Republicans in election years where Republicans had big gains. You have good candidates who are running in districts that represent their values.”