The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

White men are 31 percent of the American population. They hold 65 percent of all elected offices.

Members of the Senate Watergate Investigating Committee are seen during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington as they listen to witness Robert Odle, foreground, in this May 17, 1973 file photo. (AP Photo/File)

The folks at Who Leads Us, a project by the Women Donors Network, have posed an interesting question about the state of politics: Do we live in a reflective democracy? The short answer is no, and the long answer is also no. And the two charts below (put together by Philip Bump) prove it.

It's no secret that white men dominate politics, which we've written about before, and current projections suggest that women won't reach political parity/reflective representation for another 100 years.

But just how dominant are they? Here are some takeaways from the survey of 42,000 elected officials:

  • 71 percent of elected officials are men, 90 percent are white, and 65 percent are white men.
  • White men are 31 percent of the U.S. population but hold 65 percent of all elected offices.
  • White men have eight times as much political power as women of color.

This summer, amid the unrest in Ferguson, Mo., that followed the shooting death of an unarmed teenager, the issue of political representation came up. In that town, 67 percent of the population is African American and five of the six council members -- and the mayor -- are white.

So do we all live in a Ferguson? Not quite, but some of the forces at work there, including off-cycle and non-partisan elections, do show up nationally and can have an impact on what elected officials look like, relative to the communities they serve.