A snapshot of Minnesota


The DFL held a news conference today to tout the diversity of its delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week. And, no question about it, it’s diverse.

“It’s one of the most diverse delegations in the country,” said delegate David Gilbert-Pederson, 17. That’s him standing on the far left in the picture above, next to Sen. Patricia Ray Torres, a Latina, who’s standing next to Minneapolis City Council member Robert Lilligren who is a gay Native American, who is standing next to Dr. Josie Johnson, an African American from Minneapolis, who’s standing next to Shanti Shah, an Indian American from Eden Prairie. Former DFL Party chair Rick Stafford, who is gay, is shown speaking and Sen. Mee Moua, who is Hmong, hosted the event. Sam Scott of Andover (profiled here earlier) is, obviously, white, but he’s also young and is a vet of the Iraqi War.

You get the picture, but is it a picture of Minnesota? “It’s a good picture of the state of Minnesota,” Gilbert-Pederson said.Several speakers noted the Minnesota stereotype; we’re pretty white and the DFL delegation is meant to explode that stereotype.

But the statistics don’t lie. Minnesota as a state is very white. The DFL delegation is not.

Here’s a comparison of the delegation vs. the latest census data for the state.

Demographic Minnesota Metro Area Outstate DFL delegation
White 89.4% 85.7% 95.1% 66%
African American 5.1% 7.5% 1.4% 23%
Asian 3.8% 5.5% 1.3% 9.1%
American Indian 1.6% 1.1% 2.4% 5.5%
Hispanic 3.8% 4.4% 2.7% 6.4%

Stafford took a shot at Republicans during his remarks. He said the appearance of the DFL delegation in Denver will “contrast with what you see a week later” at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

“What do you mean by that?” MPR’s Curtis Gilbert asked.

“White,” he said.

(h/t: Betsy Cole, MPR researcher)

  • Alison

    It may not be representative of the demographics of the state, but I’m sure there were plenty of conventions with 100% white male delegations, also not represntative of the state.

  • Curtis Gilbert

    I checked with the Minnesota GOP to see if the state’s Republican National Convention delegation is as white as Stafford said. It turns out it is a lot whiter than the DNC contingent.

    Only 6 or Minnesota’s 78 Republican delegates and alternates are non-white — a little less than 8 percent. The Democrats say they have 48 out of 109 — a whopping 44 percent.

    “We feel our delegation represents a wide variety of walks of Minnesota, both on a regional and age basis,” Minnesota GOP Communications Director Gina Countryman said in an e-mail. “They are architects, elected officials, veterans, business owners, students, accountants and pastors.”

  • Bob Collins

    According to the spreadsheet the DFL provided, 41 of the delegation is non-white (a little hard to tell because some who were listed under the GBLT heading were also listed under the race categories, and some weren’t).

    The Republican white makeup is about 92%.

    The issue about which represents Minnesota better is a debatable one, but STRICTLY on the basis of which delegation REFLECTS the racial makeup of the state, the Republicans are closer to reflecting the predominance of whites in the state.

    The Dems today, as you know, had two different statements:

    * The racial makeup of the state is much more diverse than the Minnesota “stereotype.”

    * Minnesota’s DFL delegation is among the most diverse delegations in the country.

    Only one of those statements is actually true.

  • Snuffy

    But the DFL delegation isn’t representing Minnesota. It’s representing those Minnesotans who went DFL in the caucuses, right?

    Do you have any data (exit polling, I guess?) for the overall DFLers and how that breakdown compares to the delegation?

    Data data data. Fun to play with, but not really very meaningful.

  • Bob Collins

    Correct, Snuffy. I was referring only to the claim in the news conference, not their mission or responsibilities.

    I submit to you, by the way, that this is VERY meaningful because it can lead to a fairly interesting conversation. Data alone? Certainly not. But when you start looking at the role of diversity, there are interesting questions.

    Now, clearly nobody is going to shed any tears that the delegation isn’t as white as the state. I understand that. But if the goal is to eliminate the historical underrepresentation of minority groups, what then constitutes underrepresentation of the majority group?

    Difficult questions, to be sure. But the DFL opened the door to them.

  • Lily

    But ethnicity or skin color is only one form of diversity, as is sexual orientation. Even if we went to using blood types, the human race is way more diverse than what the RNC will see. Kudos to the DFL for representing me and my neighbors.

  • Bob Collins

    Yes, disability and GLBT were two other categories. But I don’t have census data for either of those categories in Minnesota.

    But keep in mind, here, the question isn’t which delegation is more diverse, the question is… what constitutes REFLECTING the state in matters of ethnic/racial makeup? Should it follow the numbers, or should it have a representative of all ethnic groups equally? Which reminds me, I didnt’ see a Somali in the delegation, I have to check that?

    The other aspect that I’ve always found interesting is the question of two Minnesotas. The DFL strength is the Twin Cities and Iron Range (and maybe a little in the 1st district), surrounded by red.

    In many ways, that same map represents the ethnic diversity of the state — it’s all about the Twin Cities, which doesn’t look at all like, say, outstate Minnesota.

    So the DFL “looks” like the Twin Cities. But the GOP “looks” like outstate Minnesota.

  • MR

    A more interesting measure of “diversity” to me is socioeconomic standing, but I’m sure that there isn’t data to reflect the income of the two delegations. I believe that income and class has more direct impacts on the actual lives of people than does their race.

  • http://restraininorder.blogspot.com TJSwift

    Preferred sexual practises, race, gender, ethnicity.

    The politics of passive\aggressive bigotry; stand with your group; divide and conquer…

    To the Democrat party, “who” you are is of no importance…it’s “what” you are that counts…”you” are no more important than what how your “group” can be manipulated and used to promote socialism.

    You doubt that? Well, here’s a little something for folks to ponder.

    Where the Jim Crow laws in the South failed to keep black Americans on the back of societies’ bus, three decades of liberal attacks on the nuclear family, promotion of welfare and the co-opting of public schools have succeeded beyond the wildest dreams the most virulent Kluxers ever had.

    But, don’t let me spoil the party…how many Latino’s did you say were going?

  • GregS

    If we got rid of all straight white males would we be 100% diverse?

  • http://www.eckernet.com Kevin

    I thought judging people on the basis of their skin color was a BAD thing??

    I thought we were supposed to judge someone based on the content of their character?

    Or is that whole “I had a dream” speech old-fashioned now?