Writing for ABC News, Amy Walters notes that for all the criticism of Obama’s traditional cabinet—which, thus far, is heavy on white men—the bigger problem for Democrats is that their presidential hopefuls lean heavily on the conventional side:
For all the hand-wringing over the lack of diversity in the Obama Administration’s second term Cabinet, Democrats should really be more depressed about the fact that their potential 2016 field is a lot less diverse than the GOP’s. Take away Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic bench looks more like that picture in the New York Times than it does the picture of Obama’s 2012 voting coalition.
It’s true that if there’s anything you can say about the GOP’s likely field for 2016, it’s that it’s pretty diverse—for which the party deserves real credit.
Two of the top contenders, of course, are Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. Beyond them are lesser-known politicians like Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, who—as moderate, Latino Republicans—have the ingredients to build serious national profiles. And if you’re stretching, you could also include South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley—who is of South Asian descent—and New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayote, who seems to be positioning herself for higher office of some sort.
With that said, it’s wrong to measure a party’s diversity by its top-tier politicians; real diversity is embedded in the organization, from operatives and strategists, to candidate recruitment and fundraising. By that measure, the Democratic Party is still more diverse than its conservative counterpart. The lack of diversity on the Democrat’s 2016 bench has more to do with the shellacking of the 2010 midterms than it does with almost anything else.
One last point: It’s always worth reminding ourselves that we’re still two years away from when candidates will begin to campaign in earnest. We have no real sense of how either bench will look—it’s entirely possible that, at the end of the day, both parties will have a similarly diverse field of candidates. Which, for those of us who value diversity, is a huge victory.