Trump’s election fueled a midterms female wave
Nine will be governors in record class of women
WASHINGTON – First they marched. Then they ran. Now they’ve won.
The massive movement that began with resistance to Donald Trump’s presidency has helped drive historic gains for female candidates this election cycle, ushering more female lawmakers into the next session of Congress than ever before.
As of Wednesday, women had surpassed the current record of 107 voting members of the House and Senate, according to a USA TODAY analysis of election results. The new total – 118 and counting – includes 31 first-time House members, seven more than the record set for freshmen women during the 1992 “Year of the Woman” election. It also in-
cludes sitting female senators who were not up for re-election.
The House will also have the largest number of freshmen women of color next Congress, with at least 11 new members elected, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
The surge was driven largely by Democrats, who took over control of the House. Eighty-four of the 96 women elected to the House are Democrats, including 30 of the 31 newcomers.
Their historic involvement follows the massive Women’s March to resist Trump’s presidency and the #MeToo movements’ protest against sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Twelve women – including two freshmen – have been elected to the Senate so far, and there will be one more when the U.S. Senate race between two women candidates is settled in Arizona. Ten of the women senators are Democrats.
Nine women (six Democrats and three Republicans) were elected in governors races, matching a record set in 2004, and that number could rise.
Women from both parties ran in greater numbers this cycle, but the number of Democratic female candidates still outpaced Republicans at every level, from state legislatures to governor’s races to Congress.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters on Wednesday that the issue has “been a frustration” and that Republicans need to do a better job at recruiting and supporting women candidates.
While the Women’s March drew millions of protesters at events nationwide on the first full day of Trump’s administration, tens of thousands of women reached out to just one organization – Emily’s List – to express interest in running for office since Election Day 2016. The organization, which helps elect prochoice Democratic women, trained a record 5,000 women to run this cycle, alone.
Other women bucked the party establishment – and showed they can win anyway. Among them are Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, a Democrat who is the first black woman elected to Congress from Massachusetts, and New York Democratic activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who at 29 became the youngest woman elected to Congress.
Ocasio-Cortez scored the primary season’s biggest upset with the defeat of Rep. Joe Crowley, the fourth-ranking House Democrat.
“We didn’t launch this campaign because I thought I was special or unique or better than anyone else,” Ocasio-Cortez said after winning on Tuesday night. “We launched this campaign because in the absence of anyone giving a clear voice on the moral issues of our time, then it is up to us to voice them.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to supporters during her election night party in Queens.
Democrat Ayanna Pressley will be the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts.