The political over-representation of the rich in the USA

Nicholas Carnes: The Cash Ceiling: Why Only the Rich Run for Office—and what we can do about it. Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2018, 344 pp, ISBN: 9780691182001
  • Ragnhild L. MuriaasEmail author

If you ask people in Europe if there is one candidate that grabbed their attention in the 6 November 2018 US elections, they are likely to refer to the story of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Not only is she the youngest woman ever elected to the House of the Representatives, but the 29-year-old former waitress, now representing parts of Queens and Bronx, claimed shortly after getting elected that she could not afford to pay for an apartment in Washington DC until her congressional salary kicked in. Ocasio-Cortez, representing the average American, was apparently an anomaly in the United States Congress.

The issue of what stops lower-income and working-class Americans from becoming politicians is exactly what Nicholas Carnes addresses in his excellent and timely book The Cash Ceiling: Why Only the Rich Run for Officeand what we can do about it. According to Carnes’ calculations, workers make up less than 3 per cent of the typical state legislature and less than 2 per cent of the federal...

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© European Consortium for Political Research 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Comparative PoliticsUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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