Congress in 2019: The 2nd most educated and least politically experienced House freshman class
As we outlined in an earlier article, the 116th Congress is going to look a lot different than its predecessors thanks to a younger, more female, less white new cohort of Democrats. And weeks before even being sworn into office, many new members have already made their presence known—from livestreaming portions of their orientation, to joining an environmental protest in likely-Speaker Pelosi’s office, to exchanging their speakership votes for promises of attention to climate change.
But the incoming freshman class is notable not just because of their demographics, but also because of the types of experience and expertise they’re bringing to Congress. The “Blue Wave” is bringing record levels of educational attainment to the 116th Congress, but it’s also sweeping in the least politically experienced cohort in modern history. These divergent types of expertise, which fit into recent trends in the House, seem likely to have a lasting effect on both the political culture of the chamber and on the types and quality of policy that emerge from it.
We looked at data from 1789 on, but for the following charts we’ll focus on 1967-present.