Surname Racial Bias? Winners and Losers in 2012 Election

The first color a voter sees in studying the ballot might be the red or blue of the Republican or Democratic parties. But gender"“and race"“can be a significant factor in the power of choice and the ultimate composition of Congress.

Last month, 78 U.S. House contests pitted a white candidate against a person of color; 47 white lawmakers won, or 60 percent. (In 10 additional races, both candidates were minorities.)

"People tend to look at partisanship first," explained Matt Baretto, a University of Washington political-science professor, "but there is additional evidence that "¦ people do bring their racial bias to the voting process."

Baretto researched (pdf)  voting bias in Washington state, where an appointed Latino judge ran to retain his Supreme Court seat. His opponent campaigned lightly, yet won in 30 of the 38 counties where racial tensions were high.  (The Seattle Times covered the outcome, and previously Baretto found evidence of "racially polarized voting" in more than 40 Los Angeles County elections since the mid-1990s; similarly, 2010 research conducted in Texas showed a propensity for Hispanic voters to back "Juan Martinez" over "John Morgan.")

In the coming year, more and more ethnic-sounding surnames will appear on ballots, which is only one factor that partly defines candidates beyond party and gender. Below are visual representations of winners and losers in November races involving minority candidates, with red signifying Republicans, blue Democrats, and green independents.

See our full coverage of all minority candidates, with photos and winning margins, from the November election. Also learn more about our incoming lawmakers by reading their profiles.

This first visual representation is of the 10 minority winners of open seats, further evidence that the GOP fielded few successful minority candidates.

Here is a mashup of the names of minority winners.

A collection of surnames of the losers in contests when one candidate was white and his or her opponent was a person of color.

Districts and gerrymandering have much to do with the success of a candidate, but some districts had hotly contested races of minority candidates;

Puerto Rican immigrant Jose Serrano easily retained his District 15 seat, representing New Yorkers in upper Manhattan and parts of Queens. He beat Frank Della Valle, 97 percent to 3 percent, in the widest margin among minority candidates.

Conversely, in another race where one candidate was a minority, Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy defeated incumbent Allen West, R-Fla., by the narrowest margin--a mere 1,907 votes--in ousting the black House member in District 18, which encompasses parts of Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

Here you can see the surnames of the winners and their parties.

And finally, take a look at an alphabetized list of winners by party; the names in italics are the minority candidates.

Barton beat Sanders 58-39
beat Bass 86-14
Beatty beat Long 68-27
Becerra beat Smith 85-15
Bentivollo beat Taj  57-44
Beutler beat Haugen 60-40
Blackburn beat Amouzouvik 71-24
beat Holley 65-35
Burgess beat Sanchez 68-29
beat Kang 59-41
Capps beat Maldonado 55-45
Capuano beat Romano 84-16
Castor beat Otero 70-30
Chu beat Orswell 63-37
Clarke beat Cavanagh 87-12
Coble beat Foriest 61-39
Cole beat Bebo 61-39
Cuellar beat Hayward 68-30
DeLauro beat Winsley 75-25
Coble beat Foriest 61-39
Denham beat Hernandez 54-46
Duncan beat Doyle 67-33
Eshoo beat Chapman 70-30
Farenthold beat Harrison 57-39
Flores beat Easton 80-20
Forbes beat Ward 57-43
Gerlach beat Trivedi 57-43
Gohmert beat McKellar 72-27
Gosar beat Robinson 67-28
Green beat Mueller 78-20
Grisham beat Arnold-Jones 59-41
Heck beat Oceguera 50-43
Hinojosa beat Brueggemann 61-37
Horsford beat Tarkanian 50-42
Huizenga beat German 61-34
Jeffries beat Bellone 90-9
Joyce beat Blanchard 54-39
Jackson Lee beat Seibert 75-23
Lujan beat Bryd 63-37
Lungren beat Bera 51-49
Matheson beat Love 49-48
McCaul beat Cadien 61-36
 McClintock beat Uppal 61-39
McCollum beat Hernandez 62-32
McNerney beat Gil 55-45
Meng beat Halloran 68-31
Miller beat Fuller 69-31
Moore beat Sebring 72-25
Mullin beat Wallace 57-38
Murphy beat West 50-50
Nadler beat Chan 81-19
Napolitano beat Miller 65-35
O'Rourke beat Carrasco 66-33
Olson beat Rogers 64-32
Payne beat Kelemen 87-11
Pearce beat Ernard 59-41
Pompeo beat Tillman 62-31
Reed beat Shinagawa 52-48
Rice beat Tinubu 55-45
Rogers beat Harris 64-36
Royce beat Chen 59-41
Ruiz beat Bono Mack 52-48
Ryan beat Agana 72-28
Sanchez beat Hayden 62-38
Scalise beat Mendoza 67-21
Scott beat Rose 62-35
Serrano beat Della Valle 97-3
Sewell beat Chamberlain 76-24
Southerland beat Lawson 53-47
Takano beat Tavaglione 58-42
Terry beat Ewing 51-49
Thompson beat Dumas 63-37
Tiberi beat Reese 64-36
Vargas beat Crimmins 70-30
Velazquez beat Murray 94-12
Webster beat Demings 52-48
Yoho beat Gillot 65-32