A female wave instead of a Democratic one: the midterm election results

The House goes to the Democrats, the Senate remains Republican. But the midterm election results are positive especially for women. How the vote for Congress and 36 governors went.

It was supposed to be a blue wave, but it wasn’t: you could perhaps characterise it as a “pink” one. As more conservative predictions had forecast, the Democrats won the majority of seats in the House of Representatives but not in the Senate, which has remained in Republican hands. The real news of the midterm elections, therefore, is to be found elsewhere: among the over one hundred women who gained a seat in Capitol Hill. The first mention, obviously, goes to one of the many rising stars of this electoral cycle: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who at the tender age of 29 became the youngest woman ever to be elected to the United States Congress. Then, there are the first two Muslim women, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, and the first two Native American ones, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland. Riding the female wave is Nancy Pelosi who, having held onto the seat of her California district without breaking a sweat, is likely to return at the helm of the House of Representatives.

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alexandria ocasio-cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29 years old, is the youngest congresswoman in the history of the United States © Rick Loomis/Getty Images

Midterm election results: the victory of women and diversity

The first two Latina women were also voted into Congress from Texas, Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, while Massachussetts and Connecticut elected their first African American congresswomen, Ayanna Pressley and Jahana Hayes respectively. Also, a surprising first was Iowa’s choice of female House Representatives, Cindy Axne and Abby Finkenauer, and Tennessee elected its first female senator, Marsha Blackburn.

The rest – this time – had been amply predicted by the polls. Unlike the drama of 2016, when the results defied all expectations, this time not much escaped analysts. As predicted, not even Beto O’Rourke succeeded in the epic struggle to take the (traditionally Republican) Texas senatorial seat from Ted Cruz. This was also lost by a whisker.

The wave of female political participation didn’t just interest congressional candidates, but voters too. In fact, women electors made up 52 per cent of the total, propelling the Democratic Party towards winning the House. What about the Senate? The story here was different. Firstly, only a third of seats were up for election and mostly in traditionally conservative, therefore Republican, states. This allowed incumbent president Donald Trump‘s party to consolidate its majority.

Therefore, for the next two years Congress will be split in half, a significant result considering that law-making follows the principle of bicameralism, in which legislation must be approved without alterations by both chambers. This means that Trump will – at least on paper – have to compromise with Democrats in order to continue following his policy path. This could be good news for the environment in the United States and the climate globally, which could finally breathe a sigh of relief after two years of holding their breath due to the administration’s crackdown.

And a new governor was chosen in 36 states

As well as their congressional representatives, the citizens of 36 states also elected a new governor. In this case, too, a number of new entries rewarded the efforts of minorities and diversity generally. If in Florida, Georgia and Ohio Republicans held onto the post, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, New Mexico and Michigan – the state narrated by director Michael Moore who told the story of contaminated water in Flint – have passed to the Democrats.

Maine voted its first female governor, Janet Mills. In ColoradoJared Polis is the first openly gay man to become governor. It’s also worth noting that Florida held a referendum which gave back the right to vote to people who have been incarcerated. Yes, up now people who had run into troubles with the law and had been to prison weren’t allowed to participate in political life.

How the United States will change – if it does – is hard to say, what’s certain is that the role of women in institutions historically hasn’t been ignored and this could contribute to making the climate, the political one, less tense on Capitol Hill.

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