The people who contribute to, and create the staff campaigns for your new presidents and elects have influence on the country beyond Election Day. These “campaigners” live and breathe amid all this power, guiding the hands of our candidates as they plan their future in public office. A campaigner can even influence the way public discourse is framed, and determine which foundations are used to build negotiations for democracy.
#Just like the ripples in a pond, a campaigner’s influence can extend far beyond a single person, into every aspect of American politics.
At NO1, we believe that every element of a campaign has value, and weight. The staff composition of a campaign, for instance, can be the building blocks that help to create our representative democracies. Our passion for the growth and evolution of this country is the point that pushed us to ask ourselves, “Who are the true campaigners of America?”
Compiling the Research
To help us identify the campaigners in America, we brought together a team of diverse researchers to compile data from throughout the Federal Elections Commission. We used this information to extract useful insights about people on the payroll, and match them with a voter file, enhanced by commercial data.
Our in-depth information helped us to develop an evidence-based assessment of the staff composition in federal American campaigns, for the first time in history. Our one-of-a-kind method meant that we could determine with relative confidence, the gender, race, and other demographic features of 16,241 individual campaign staffers from 2012.
Before we share our findings with you, want to outline that drawing consistent information from FEC reports is a difficult process. It’s often likened to trying to get pure milk back out of a baked cake. In addition to regular paychecks, there are many individuals out there who might be issued reimbursements, payments, and bonuses that aren’t annotated in the documents provided. The address listed for employees may not be entirely accurate either. It could be a home address, a temporary campaign address, or a campaign Headquarters.
Though we gave this research our complete focus, we knew that even with the most exhaustive efforts, we still wouldn’t be able to get a completely accurate outcome. As such, we could only take what we considered to be the most practical and refined approach possible to analyzing and processing data.
Today, we feel confident that our findings are as accurate as they can be, based on the information we could gather about campaign staff at a federal level. If you would prefer to check the data for yourself, you can also see the full report here.
The Results of Our Research
One of the first things we noticed about the staff available in federal-level campaigns is that the ethnic and racial diversity of the people involved was relatively impressive. African Americans currently account for about 12% of the American workforce, and account for more than twice that amount in federal-level democratic campaigns.
However, staffers of Asian and Hispanic backgrounds were not fully represented on these campaigns at the same level as they are in the overall workforce. Though it’s important to note that Democratic campaigns were significantly more balanced to this end than Republican campaigns.
Women were also underrepresented on campaigns, and Republican campaigns appeared to have a far more significant disparity in terms of both gender, and racial representation among their campaign staff. Around 54.2% of the staff on a Republican federal-level campaign were found to be white men, compared to a much lower level of around 32.4% in Democratic campaigns. However, even in the most gender-balanced Democratic campaigns, there were still 116 men for every 100 female staffers.
Our Thoughts on the Research
Ultimately, we don’t believe this is the time to start celebrating the fact that Democrats build more representative campaigns with their staff. African American staffers on federal-level democratic campaigns were still paid 70 cents on the dollar compared to white staffers. On a similar note, Hispanics were only paid 68 cents on the dollar.
Additionally, women present within the campaign staff were also paid less than their male counterparts, though the rate wasn’t as far from parity at around 95 cents on the dollar. Importantly, while the demographics for Republican campaigns suggest that staff is largely made up of white men, Democratic campaigns show a higher income disparity based on both race and gender.
At this time, we don’t have enough data available to definitively say what’s going on in the world of political campaigns. It could be that women and ethnic minorities are receiving less money for completing the same work on campaigns – though we believe that standardized pay scales would make this less likely. On average, most campaigns have a flat pay scale for their workers that ensure everyone gets a similar rate.
Perhaps a more likely possibility is that these groups are hired for jobs that are present on a lower pay scale level, and they aren’t necessarily making the move into leadership positions on a proportional level. Of course, it could be a problem from both sides of the fence that needs to be addressed. Although the overall representation from a Democratic perspective appears to be relatively good in campaigns, the salary disparities suggest that the representation of different ethnicities becomes more diminished as you climb the corporate campaign ladder.
No matter what the cause for these differences might be, one thing seems certain from our results. Right now, the high-level campaigns of America haven’t fully embraced a completely diverse workforce. This unfortunate issue with staffing disparities is also present within other sectors, and it’s a blemish on our campaigns, and something that’s sure to restrict us from achieving a fully representative democracy.