Midterm elections – record number of female candidates for Congress

November 6th, 2018 was the date of midterm elections in United States. These elections are very important for America’s politics, not only because they have the power to change the political orientation of the Congress, but because they are considered a barometer for the public opinion about the present administration.

The battle for the campaigners, the politicians and the parties, this year as in the previous presidential elections, was to persuade people to vote. There were many public figures who advocated for people to go voting, as the average voter turnout in the midterm elections is about 40% of the eligible voters.

In addition, these elections were more interesting than others, because of the number of women involved, who put themselves in this race and made their voices heard. The record number of females who candidate for a seat in the House of Representatives (237 women, according to data compiled by The Associated Press) is the result of a series of events like the powerful message Hillary Clinton sent by her campaigning in presidential elections, the Women’s March to resist Trump’s presidency and the #MeToo movement. Most of the candidates were Democrats – 78,24% to 21,75% Republicans, according to The Financial Times.

They approached some topics that were relevant for the Americans like gun violence, equal rights and opportunities for every citizen or abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcements. More than that, part of the women who ran for the office also represent minorities like Muslims, Native-Americans or people of color, most of them being Democrats.

The results – Impressive number of women in House of Representatives, some empowering firsts and a change of majority

At this moment, the results are almost complete, and they look like this: Democrats have reclaimed a majority in the House of Representatives and at least 92 out of the 435 seats in the House are held by women, according to USA Today – 80 Democrats and 12 Republicans. The number is expected to increase to over 100 until the end of the counting votes process.

Those numbers don’t represent just a step forward for women in politics, but a very important statement on the need of engagement everybody should be aware of and a series of history-making votes that acknowledge the importance of multiculturalism and acceptance in American society. Some of them are:

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
  • Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first Muslim-American women ever elected to Congress.
  • Ayanna Pressley is Massachussets’ first black woman elected to Congress.
  • Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Native American women in the Congress.
  • Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar are the first Hispanic women Texas has ever elected to federal office.

Other important victories in the run for Congress seats and for Governors

The stars of these elections were, by far, the Democrats who re-gained the majority in the House. But there were other victories that deserve to be mentioned:

  • First openly gay man elected governor – Jared Polis, who is projected to win the race in Colorado
  • New Mexico’s first Latinx woman Democratic governor – Michelle Lujan Grisham
  • Tennessee’s first woman in the Senate – Marsha Blackburn
  • Colorado’s first black congressperson – Joe Neguse
  • Connecticut’s first congresswoman – Jahana Hayes
  • First lesbian mother in Congress – Angie Craig.

This year’s midterms marked an important moment for the implication of women in political life, but there is still a long way to a balanced representation of women. Even if the predicted number of over 100 women for the House of Representatives will be reached, it is just 25% of the seats available, that is far from equality.

So, the first step was made: women around the world will be inspired and gender equality will be more than just another topic on a board. I really hope this ‘trend’ American women started will be adopted and applied in next EU elections and in other important polls around the world.