The 2018 midterm elections will be remembered as The Year of the Woman in more ways than one.
Certainly a major factor is that record numbers of women voters in urban and suburban areas gave control of the House of Representatives to the Democrats.
Also, on Tuesday, 185 Democratic women and 52 Republican women ran for House seats, a record number of candidates. And there were 23 female Senate candidates, 15 Democrats and eight Republicans. (This is an addition to the ten women senators who did not run this year.)
And on top of all of that, a record number of women will be going to Congress after Tuesday’s elections.
“The next Congress will have a record-breaking number of women. The legislature just surpassed its previous record of 107 women or 20% female representation.”
The next Congress will have a record-breaking number of women.
The legislature just surpassed its previous record of 107 women or 20% female representation https://t.co/G3Ns3LjWH2
— POLITICO (@politico) November 7, 2018
Women won some key governor races as well, in a few cases pulling off big surprises.
Some victories by women were expected, such as Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn becoming the first woman to win a seat in the Senate in that state.
It was also expected that many Democratic women won House seats that helped their party regain control of the House of Representatives.
Those female Democratic House wins included the first two Native American women to win seats in Congress — Sharice Davids in Kansas and Deb Haaland in New Mexico. In addition, 2018 saw the first two Muslim women win House seats, Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota.
In Texas, Veronica Escobar became the first Hispanic woman to win a congressional seat. She replaced Beto O’Rourke, who left to take on GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.
In New York, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at age 29, became the youngest woman elected to Congress. In Iowa’s first district, another 29 year-old woman, Abby Finkenauer, won a House seat, defeating incumbent GOP Rep. Rod Blum.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 7, 2018
In January 31 new women will take their seats in the House joining the 65 who won reelection and retained their seats. This total of 96 congresswomen beat the old congressional record of 85 for women in the House, according to CNN.
In the Kansas governor’s race, Laura Kelly’s victory over Kris Kobach was something of an upset. Kelly had led narrowly in the polls but she won with 47.8 percent of the vote to Kobach’s 43.3. Independent Greg Orman played spoiler, capturing 6.5 percent.
In Michigan, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer returned the governor’s seat to the Democrats in a win over Republican Bill Schuette, winning 53.2 percent of the vote to 44 percent.
Republican Kristi Noem also captured the South Dakota governor’s race, becoming the first woman ever to win there, beating Democrat Billie Sutton.
All in all it was a good night for women, as voters and as candidates. However, it is clear that the increase in women candidates is not just a flash in the pan. It is no doubt a permanent change that will affect American politics for many years to come.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.