It started slowly, but one week out it’s clear: the GOP was swamped in the midterms by a multi-hued Democratic wave.
Fox News might still be trying to hedge its reportorial bets, but a quick glance at pretty much any other news outlet in the wake of the Nov. 6 midterm elections makes one thing crystal clear.
There WAS a blue wave. A big, bold, brash, bombastic blue wave. And its effect is still being felt, as each day brings still more news of GOP incumbents and candidates being swept out to defeat as vote counting ends.
In its Nov. 11 coverage, the Washington Post dubbed the midterms “the…election that keeps on giving” for Democrats, and shared a joke making the rounds at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: “This is actually turning out to be more of a Hanukkah than a Christmas election,” with day after day of gifts instead of just one.
The Post’s Karen Tumulty was among those who got it right early on, when on November 7, she dubbed elections held across America this year “the aftershock from Hillary Clinton’s defeat.”
She pegged it. Women and our male allies didn’t just get mad. We fought back. And we’re winning. A lot.
2018’s Trending Hue: “Democratic blue”
We still can’t pin down the exact margin of victory for Democrats in the House, a full week after the last polling place closed. With turnout reaching what some think could be historic levels, votes are still being counted in multiple House races. But the trend is clear. Political observers now predict that Democrats will gain roughly 40 seats in the House of Representatives.
That’s the biggest gain in House representation for Democrats since 1974 – an election that came just three months after Richard Nixon’s resignation.
Digging into the data, the Post’s Nov. 11 story revealed that Democrats had flipped two-thirds of the competitive districts won by Clinton in 2016 and by Obama or Romney in 2012. They took a third of the districts won by Trump in 2016 and Obama in 2012. And they even took a quarter of the districts won by Trump in 2016 and Romney in 2012.
As of Nov. 12, California’s House membership – the largest state delegation in D.C. – looked like it would include Democrats in all but 11 of its 53 districts. But a day later, when vote counting resumed after the Veteran’s Day holiday, the result in several more House districts in the Golden State flipped into the blue.
And, while the GOP clung onto control of the U.S. Senate, the party’s hopes of gaining 5 or more seats crashed into reality early this week, when Kyrsten Sinema won her race for the Senate in Arizona, which hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate in 30 years.
With the earlier defeat of Nevada GOP Senator Dean Heller by Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen and the still-to-be-recounted Florida Senate race between incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Rick Scott to be decided, prognosticators now expect the GOP to gain just one or two Senate seats in a year when the campaign map suggested they should have gained more.
The wave was also pink…
Women were a huge part of that big blue wave.
A record 234 women ran for the U.S. House of Representatives – 182 Democrats and 52 Republicans. As of this writing, 123 women had won, including 114 Democrats – roaring past the old record of 85 female House members, which was achieved in 2016 (and ten House seats remain undecided today). Before Election Day, experts had told Vice News that just 12 of those House races favored the female candidate, and another 56 were “competitive.” But in the end, women nearly doubled the experts’ projected “win” rate.
Pennsylvania’s formerly all-male 21-person House delegation now includes four Democratic women – three who flipped GOP seats and one who won an open seat.
Florida added two Democratic women – Debbie Murcasel-Powell and Donna Shalala – to its House roster.
California’s Katie Hill ousted GOP Rep. Steve Knight in one of that state’s successful red-to-blue contests.
Democrats Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne became Iowa’s first-ever women elected to Congress from that state.
Kendra Horn shocked complacent Republicans in Oklahoma with an upset win that makes her the first Democratic woman to represent the Sooner state in Washington.
Senate results were more of a mixed bag for female candidates.
Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema beat her GOP opponent Martha McSally in a woman-wins-either-way race. Tennessee elected its first-ever female U.S. Senator, Republican Marsha Blackburn. In Nevada, GOP incumbent Dean Heller lost to Democrat Jacky Rosen – handing both of the state’s Senate seats to women. But both North Dakota’s Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill were ousted by Republican men.
On the state level, America now has six women governors, up from two – seven when you include Guam’s first-ever female governor. One of those new governors, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, is the first Latina governor in America. Democrat Janet Mills will become Maine’s first woman governor. And Republicans Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Kristi Noem of South Dakota are the first women in their states to take over the governor’s office (offering the GOP some small comfort about the emerging power of political women).
We elected six new Democratic women as Lieutenant Governor, five new female Democratic Secretaries of State, two new Democratic women state Attorneys General, and seven other Democratic women state executive officeholders – two in California, and one each in Illinois, New Mexico, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
And it was multi-hued…
A third of the women who ran for Congress this year were women of color – a record. A good number of them won.
In Massachusetts, Ayanna Pressley became the state’s first woman of color elected to Congress.
Jahana Hayes of Connecticut became that state’s first black woman elected to Congress.
Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota became America’s first Muslim women in Congress.
Sharice Davids of Kansas and Deb Haaland of New Mexico are America’s first Native Americans in Congress.
Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia became the first Latinas to represent Texas in the U.S. Congress. The trend reached county politics, too: in Harris County, Texas – home to Houston – 19 black women ran for judicial posts, and all 19 won – the single largest victory for black women in the county’s history.
New York Democrat Letitia “Tish” James won her race for Attorney General, becoming the first woman AG, the first black AG, and the first black woman elected to state office in the Empire State.
In Minnesota, Democrat Peggy Flanagan became the first woman of color elected to state office when she won her race for lieutenant governor.
And more diverse…
There were a number of other notable “firsts” in election results, too – all of which will make American government more representative of American diversity.
Four veterans – Chrissy Houlihan of Pennsylvania, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, and Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, parlayed their experience as military women into House wins. Abigail ousted Tea Party darling Dave Brat in the process.
Twenty-nine-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. She beat out Iowa’s Finkenauer for that record by just a few months.
Democrats Susan Ruiz and Brandon Woodard became the first LGBTIQ members of the Kansas state legislature.
Democrats Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker became the first transgender women elected to the New Hampshire state legislature.
In Colorado, the state’s Democratic U.S. House Rep. Jared Polis ran for governor, and won – becoming the first openly gay governor in America.
And karma definitely put her carefully manicured finger on the scales of electoral justice in Minnesota, delivering defeat to GOP incumbent House member Jason Lewis, a vocally anti-gay rights legislator who’d been heard on radio bemoaning the fact that the #MeToo movement would prevent him from ever again calling women “sluts.” Lewis lost his reelection bid to Angie Craig, a proudly “out” lesbian mom.
So, even though a number of races are yet to be decided, those we can tally have definitely tipped the scales: this Democratic wave is already bigger than the GOP’s wins in either 1994 or 2010.
That’s a big wave, folks. Blue, pink, multicolored…whatever your preference.
We did it.