Most Americans Don't Feel Well-Represented By Congress

Even though there's more diversity in the incoming congressional class, people still don't think Capitol Hill reflects them.
Members of the incoming class of Congress will help make the body more diverse than ever before.
Members of the incoming class of Congress will help make the body more diverse than ever before.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

The next class of Congress is set to be historically diverse, but most Americans don’t feel that they’re especially well-represented by it, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds.

Female politicians made record gains in the 2018 midterm elections: For the first time, more than 100 women will serve in the House of Representatives. Younger Americans are seeing increased representation as well.

Still, in the waning days of the current congressional session, many members of underrepresented groups still feel that the legislative branch has a long way to go.

Only 28 percent of women, compared with half of men, say their gender is even somewhat well-represented in Washington. Just 23 percent of those younger than 30 say that their age group is well-represented; 41 percent of those ages 45 to 64 say the same.

There’s also a substantial wealth gap. While only 36 percent of those in households making $100,000 or more annually feel that their income bracket is well-represented, an even more dismal 16 percent of those making less than $50,000 say the same. Millionaires, who make up just 4 percent of the public, comprise 40 percent of Congress.

With the GOP still in power in the House for a few more weeks, self-described conservatives are more likely than moderates or liberals to say their political beliefs have sufficient representation.

Individual people, of course, belong to a lot of different demographic groups, and how much importance a person puts on each one can vary considerably, as previous polls have shown. Not all women, for instance, place the same weight on the benefit of having female legislators. And, although Congress is still dominated by baby boomers, the average American of that generation doesn’t necessarily think older politicians have their best interests at heart.

So we also asked a broader question: how well Americans felt that Congress represented “people like them.”

By this metric, nobody feels particularly well-served, a result that ties neatly into Americans’ long-standing general dislike of Congress as a whole. (Individual representatives tend to fare better.) Just 5 percent of Americans say that people like them are very well-represented in Congress, and only about a quarter say that they’re even somewhat well-represented. The majority, 59 percent, say they’re not represented so well, or at all.

On this question, men and women are about equally likely to consider themselves poorly represented ― and those over age 65 are among the least happy about it. Self-described conservatives are among the most positive, although the majority still say they’re not being well-served.

Use the widget below to further explore the results of the HuffPost/YouGov survey, using the menu at the top to select survey questions and the buttons at the bottom to filter the data by subgroups:

The HuffPost/YouGov poll consisted of 1,000 completed interviews conducted Nov. 19-20 among U.S. adults, using a sample selected from YouGov’s opt-in online panel to match the demographics and other characteristics of the adult U.S. population.

HuffPost has teamed up with YouGov to conduct daily opinion polls. You can learn more about this project and take part in YouGov’s nationally representative opinion polling. More details on the polls’ methodology are available here.

Most surveys report a margin of error that represents some, but not all, potential survey errors. YouGov’s reports include a model-based margin of error, which rests on a specific set of statistical assumptions about the selected sample rather than the standard methodology for random probability sampling. If these assumptions are wrong, the model-based margin of error may also be inaccurate. Click here for a more detailed explanation of the model-based margin of error.

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