You’d have to be living under a rock not have seen that the Democrats took the US House of Representatives by a decisive margin in a blow to President Donald Trump’s Republican Party. Whilst the Republicans held the senate, the result now gives the Democrats extensive scope to propose and block legislation, to launch investigations into the administration, and to provide checks and balances on the White House which Republicans have been unwilling to provide.
Democrats did experience disappointment in the Senate, with the Republicans set to increase their majority, and in some governor’s races, like Florida and Georgia where progressives Andrew Gillum and Stacy Abrams were hoping to turn their states blue. Though, on the whole, the Democrats did make some significant gains in state houses. The election has deep and lasting implications for President Trump going forward.
But the election was also hugely significant in what it means for the culture, and representation, of the United States, with a number of big firsts and historic results marking a potential turning point in American history. Women and minorities were certainly the big winners on Tuesday night, which is especially important at a time when the current occupant of the White House has a bad history on women and minority rights, sexual assault, and racism. Here are the 3 most historic outcomes of the US midterms.
It looks like 96 women are set to win seats in the House, more than ever before, beating the previous record of 85. 117 women are set to win election across House, Senate, and Gubernatorial elections, not including those for state legislatures. Before the election, the US congress was just 19.4% female, with this result being a step in the right direction. There had been a lot of talk over the course of the campaign about the record number women inspired to run for office by the #MeToo movement and the President’s comments about women.
There were also some specific firsts, with Republican Marsha Blackburn set to be Tennessee's very first female Senator, and Arizona guaranteed to have it’s inaugural female Senator - even if the final result is less than clear, with Republican Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema caught in a close fight. South Dakota also elected Republican Kristi Noem as its first Governor, defeating Democrat Billie Sutton.
But it wasn’t just a great night for female candidates. There were some major firsts for certain ethnic minority groups who are to receive their first national representatives or governors. Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are to be the first ever Native American women to be elected to Congress, whilst Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first ever Muslim women to become members of Congress.
There was some bad news on this front, however, with Andrew Gillum hoping to be Florida’s first black Governor, but losing to Republican Ron DeSantis, whose campaign was criticised for using racially charged language against Mayor Gillum. Stacy Abrams is still hopeful of being the first black Governor of Georgia, waiting to see if absentee ballots can trigger a second round under Georgia law.
Over 100 LGBTQ+ candidates are expected to be elected for Congress, governorships, and state legislatures - what is being called “a rainbow wave”. This includes two Governors - Jared Polis in Colorado, who becomes the first gay man elected as Governor, and Kate Brown, a bisexual women who has been re-elected as Governor of Oregon. Sharice Davids, mentioned as one of the first Native American women in Congress, is also the first LGBTQ+ representative from Kansas.