The most important thing about the transition from Daniel Inouye to Brian Schatz is that it matches the general transition from the 112th to 113th Senates: the outgoing Democrats had hardly any liberal energy remaining, while the incoming Democrats appear to have quite a bit. There is one exception, finally, with John Kerry leaving, but other than that, the outgoing Democrats either had little apparent initiative remaining of any kind (Kohl, Bingaman) or the bulk of their energy was spent on conservative or centrist priorities (Holy Joe, Conrad).

So much for substantive analysis; what about demographics?

Obviously, the big one here is age. Schatz is 40; the switch knocks an extremely impressive 48 years off of the total age of the Senate. That’s right, this one transition alone lowers the average age of the Senate by about half a year. Recall that DeMint -> Scott was another 14 years, so the postelection developments have really made a difference, at least pending the Kerry replacement.

What else? Schatz is Jewish, meaning that the new Senate will only decrease by one Red Sea Pedestrian, instead of what was expected to be a decrease of two. The biggest hit, instead, will be Methodists, with four 112th Senate Methodists gone from the 113th and only one new one. The new Senate will add three Roman Catholics, and one new Mormon, as well as the Senate’s first Buddhist. On the other hand, in addition to Methodists, the Senate is losing one Eastern Orthodox and Unitarian Universalist. Again, that could still change depending on what happens in Massachusetts.

As far as education, neither of the post-election Senators went to an ivy, although we do get a non-Ivy elite liberal arts (Schatz, Pomona). So Ivies account for just 2 of 14 new Senator undergrads (plus one other Harvard Law; Ted Cruz is Princeton/Harvard Law, so a total of three have some Ivy education. Not counting Elizabeth Warren, an Ivy educator).

[Cross-posted at A plain blog about politics]

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a political scientist who writes about American politics, especially the presidency, Congress, parties, and elections.