The 2018 election cycle broke many records previously held in the legislative branch. In both the one hundredth and sixteenth session of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, more people of color and women were elected than ever before. Previously, only 107 members – 22 percent – in both branches of Congress were women. Following the Nov. 6 election, 123 women are now in the legislative branch, according to the Los Angeles Times. 101 women are in the House, and thirteen women were elected to the Senate in 2018 — the first time there has ever been over a hundred women in one branch of government.
Beyond more female representation, there is also more racial diversity in Congress. Sharice Davids, from Kansas’ 3rd district and Debra Haaland from New Mexico’s 1st district became the first Native American women to be elected. Ayanna Pressley from the 7th district in Massachusetts is the first black woman to be elected from that state. Rashida Tlaib from Michigan’s 13th district and Ilhan Omar from Minnesota’s 5th district are the first two Muslim women to be elected to the House. Veronica Escobar from the 16th district and Sylvia Garcia from the 29th district are the first two hispanic women from Texas to be elected. All of these women are representing the Democratic party, and were elected to the House of Representatives. There is a significant partisan divide amongst women elected to office; in the last Congressional cycle (the 115th Congress), Republican women made up only 28 percent of the women in the House of Representatives, and only five percent of the House as a whole. However, this is the largest increase in female representation in Congress that either party has ever had in a single election.
Nine women were elected as governors in Rhode Island, Michigan, Maine, Oregon, Alabama, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, and New Mexico. This is the first time a woman has been elected governor of Maine. As of May 2017, only 42 women had ever been elected to governor positions in the entire history of the United States, and in this single election cycle, nine women made history. In the Senate, Tennessee elected its first female Senator, republican Marsha Blackburn. Arizona also made history with the election of the first female Senator Democrat Kyrsten Sinema who is also the first openly bisexual Senator. Colorado, a frequent swing state, elected the first ever openly gay governor Jared Polis from the Democratic party. Polis won by an eight percent lead — about 250,000 votes. In Boulder, he won by over 90,000 votes out of 150,000 votes in total.
New York’s 13th District elected the youngest ever Congress member, Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at 29-years-old. Ocasio-Cortez unseated incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley in the June primary. Crowley was the Democratic Caucus Chair and was considered to be a viable candidate for Speaker of the House in the future. After winning the primary in what was considered to be one of the biggest political upsets of the year, Ocasio-Cortez won by over 40 percent in the polls, and campaigned without taking a single dollar from lobbyists or Political Action Committees. More young people were elected to Congress in 2018 than ever before; the average age of Congress dropped almost a decade following the most recent election according to NowThis. Prior to 2018, the average age of the House of Representatives members was 58, and it is now 49.
In 2014, about 83 million votes were cast, according to BBC News. Four years later this past election, 114 million votes were cast with a sharp increase in early voting and mail-in ballots with reports from The New York Times. The youth vote, which is considered to be voters from 18-29 years of age, increased from eleven percent to thirteen percent in 2014. When looking at early voter demographics, the youth vote was up 188 percent from the last midterm elections with over 3.3 million millennials voting early, according to The Atlantic. Besides the youth vote, campaign finances also went up since the last midterm elections. According to opensecret.gov, from the 2014 midterm elections, campaign finances went up 61 percent at a total of 5.2 billion dollars. Georgia’s 6th district is the most expensive campaign ever, at a total of 30.4 million dollars raised.
Beyond the Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives and the Republican party gaining more seats in the Senate, this midterm election was record-breaking on many different accounts. Many elections were closely contended and came down to just a few thousand votes in some states such as Florida, to read more about Florida see above. Some races have yet to certify their results, as they closely track provisional ballots and vote-by-mail ballots received after election day. The Quaker Campus will continue to report on the 116th Congress.