Beyond a short post-WWII reverse in trend since Montana's Jeanette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress in 1917, more women take office each year.
However, in a nation now nearly 51 percent female, only 15 percent of the Senate and 16.6 percent of the House is led by women.
Some voters may consider gender, age, and race when evaluating a person's readiness to lead. But when it comes to mounting a race and winning a seat, history shows that the more determinative factors are schooling and money.
Members of Congress are more educated than the populace in general, Petersen writes in his report. And the average winning House campaign in 2010 cost more than $1.4 million, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics (the typical Senate winner spent nearly $10 million).
Only when more people of color have gained higher levels of education and income — and facility in the art and economics of campaigning — will the august chambers become more racially and ethnically balanced.
Four states — California, Hawaii, New Mexico, and Texas — have a minority-majority population heading into Tuesday's elections. Currently those states hold 102 total seats in Congress, represented by 25 racial- or ethnic-minority incumbents.
In years to come, expect more people of color on the ballot as various groups work to develop candidates for office. For example, the NALEO Education Fund reports that 373 Latino legislative candidates are running for state offices, and in the past year the New American Leaders Project trained 182 African, Asian, Caribbean, and Latino immigrants for a run at office, from school board to the U.S. Senate.
Among challengers seeking office: John Arvantes, born in Greece (New Jersey, 11th House District; Shmuley Boteach, a second-generation Iranian (New York, 9th House District); and Rita Zak, a native of Israel (Illinois, 7th House District).
In recent annual reports, the Congressional Research Service has indicated the birthplaces of members of Congress:
107th Congress (2001-2003): Six representatives were born in five countries: Cuba, Hungary, Japan, Netherlands, and Taiwan. No senators were born outside the U.S.
108th Congress (2003-2005) Eight representatives were born in seven countries: Cuba, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, and Taiwan.
109th Congress (2005-2007): Nine representatives and a senator were born in seven countries: Canada, Cuba, Hungary, Japan, Netherlands, Pakistan, and Taiwan.
110th Congress (2007-2009): Ten Representatives and a senator were born in seven countries Canada, Cuba, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, and Taiwan.
111th Congress (2009-2011): Twelve representatives and a senator were born in nine countries: Canada, Cuba, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
112th Congress (2011-2013): Eight representatives and a senator were born in seven countries: Canada, Cuba, India, Japan, Pakistan, Peru, and Taiwan. Several were born to American citizens working or serving abroad.