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WOMEN WIN: Historic Record Number of Women in 2018

Strong and compelling numbers as women set records; Democratic women are the big story. There was a big sea change for women in November, and results show women ran, women won and women won’t be stopped running across America.

It has been reported that 42,000 women voiced their interest in running for office since 2017 and they ran hard. Democrats have the large majority of women elected in the House as the big story with more than 104 and more with non-voting delegates up to 110.

Women have never held more than 84 of the House's 435 seats, so the visuals of women and diversity, and new younger women are a big story. Many of the women who won are making history themselves. The Democratic members-elect are all largely women and people of color, while the Republican members-elect are overwhelmingly white men. Just one of GOP incoming member-elect in the 116th Congress is a woman with another leading as of 11-18-18. And although two new Republican women may join the Senate, and two new Democratic women won, two Democratic women lost; so the story of big Dems women winning was the House, and state Houses, and many for the first time running.

The women in the Senate may end up 17 Democrats and 7 Republicans, but as of 11-18-18, it is 23 (one race pending as I write this). The House includes women of color with highlights on Black, Hispanic and Asian; two new LGTB women, two new Muslim and two Native American, and young women. Some 468 black women ran for political office in 2018 and large numbers at every diverse level—Latinas won and Asian American and Native American women and Muslim women and LGBT women. The story of women veterans is a strong one from VA to PA and more.

Women made up 10% of Congress in 1992, the year labeled Year of the Woman, and now 24% in the House and Senate may be 24%. State Legislatures with more than 2000 women serving as of 2019 are a big change along with the nine women governors.

Yes, the images have changed for women in office. Historic for women and not since the wave of women in 1992 when it was called “the Year of the Woman,” women in politics and Democratic women of every race, religion and cultural background were elected in November to be sworn into office for 2019.

Women Candidates on November 6th, 2018

  • 276 House, Senate, and gubernatorial candidates were on the ballot.
  • 256 House and Senate: 59 of the candidates were Republican, and 197 were Democrats.


Projecting 128 Women in House and Senate (several house and one Senate race pending)

HOUSE NEW: 37 Women projected with 36 Democrats, one Republican with one race challenged and two pending. Republican women lost 10 seats as of 11-15-18. Women are on track to make up nearly 40% of House Democrats in 2019, but less than 7% of House Republicans.

The number of Democratic white men serving in the House of Representatives is 38%--down from 41%. The number of Republican white men serving in the House for the Republicans rose from 86% to 90%.

HOUSE: 105 Women expected to be seated—up to 91 Dems and at least 13 Republicans (pending a few races).
The House going into the election was 84 of the 435 seats. Yes, it is a record 110 women – including non-voting delegates, but not including still-undecided races as of November 16, 2018– were elected to the House, and almost all of the newly elected women are Democrats, with one or max two still to be seated. (Diversity analysis by The Raben Group and data for this analysis taken from 12 sources). 

There was a historic rise in the number of women and minorities elected to Congress in the 2018 midterms, and the photos of the House of Representatives members-elect highlighted women and women of color for Democrats. 

Democrats saw their number go from 64 current representatives to 91 in the incoming House, while the GOP saw its number of House females drop. Just 13 GOP women have won the election so far to serve in the next Congress, down from 23 this year. From the Center for American Women and Politics, this is the lowest number of women in Republican ranks since 1994. Women favored Democrats over Republicans for Congress, 59 percent to 40 percent, according to exit polls.

New women are diverse and the rise of diversity sets records

The new Congress set to take office in January is slated to be the most racially diverse in history. There is a record number of Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and women of color who will serve in the next legislative session. 

Diversity is the winning story with the Democratic women. Ethnic minorities overall will be at a record level in the House – at least 118 – and again, almost all the new faces are Democrats.

  • African American women increase
  • Latinas in the House increase
  • The first two Native American women in the House
  •  The first two Muslim women to serve in the House
  •  LGBT wins: two in House and  (The first openly gay governor elected in the country along with now two women Senators)

 For the record: at least 468 black women ran for political office in 2018. Higher Heights for America, a group that works to increase the number of black women running for office, notes that 40 black women were on congressional ballots in the midterm elections. Seventeen black women were candidates for statewide office.


Latino Democrats engaged voters and achieved a net gain of 34 House seats. Latino participation surged 174% in 2018 compared to the 2014 midterms.
African Americans participation jumped 157 percent.

A demographics report from the group New American Economy, which studies the impact of immigrants on the economy, found that the increased diversity indeed helped Democrats. In all but one of the districts that flipped, the share of Asian-American and Hispanic-American eligible voters increased in the last five years. Asian-Americans are also veering more toward the Democrats, according to election eve polling by Asian American Decisions. The group went for Democrats by an average 70-25 percent margin in battleground districts, the poll found.

The number of women in the Senate remains 23 with 17 Dems and 6 Republicans and one race in MS pending, which would mean 24 and one more Republican, and 24% women for Senate and House (making history). Thirteen won this time with one pending. The Dems picked up two and lose two and
Republicans picked up one in Tennessee and one pending in Mississippi. Five with two women Senators are all Dems: CA; MN; NV; NH; WA and this is historic.

Governors: 9 women governors (5 Dems and 4 Republicans) and making HISTORY again.

State Legislatures with women setting records: More than 2,000 women will serve in state legislatures when those chambers convene for their upcoming sessions, representing roughly a quarter of all state lawmakers across the country. That mark will eclipse the record of 1,875 who served this year, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.

The number could rise as ballot-counting concludes in close contests across the country. The Associated Press has not yet called more than 200 state legislative elections, races that include about 185 female candidates, according to the center.

In another first, women could end up holding the majority in two state legislative chambers at the same time — the Colorado House and Nevada Assembly, according to tallies by the center and the National Council of State Legislatures.

The Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University reports that of the at least 2,019 women who will serve in incoming state legislatures, 1,205 of the newly elected are Democrats, and 528 are Republican. 61% of women in state legislatures are Democrats and 38% Republican.

Women voters: Women voters in 2018 show just how consequential their unprecedented support for Democratic candidates were-- and thus, the leadership of Dems in the U.S. House. Women voters have joined participants in the Women's March, Me Too activists, and this year's record number of women candidates in helping reshape the contours of the current political landscape.

A sizable majority of women, 59%, compared with a minority of men, 47%, reported casting ballots for the Democratic congressional candidate in their district, according to the national exit poll conducted by Edison Research. VoteCast by the Associated Press (AP), and conducted jointly by the AP, Fox News, and the NORC, showed a similar pattern of gender differences in U.S. House voting in 2018, with 55% of women, compared with 45% of men, preferring the Democratic candidate in their district.

Donations to women candidates surpassed $1 billion for the first time. Contributions from so many organizations coupled with “Get out the vote” are historic. So many credit the impetus from the Women’s March and they say they will keep raising money, getting candidates to run and getting out the vote.

Passion on the Democratic side: Edison Research reported from exit polls that of the 45% of women voters who said that is was very important to elect women to office, 82% voted for Democrats and 17 % voted for Republicans. Key issues in the House included health care and gun control for women. An analysis showed that women were 14% more likely to vote for health care.

Demographics and the Women's Vote

Several demographic groups of women were critical to Democratic victories in U.S. House races, including Black women, Latinas, and college-educated white women. Women of color voted heavily Democratic, with 92% of Black women and 73% of Latinas casting their ballots for Democratic House candidates.

Democrats have the advantage. At both the federal and state levels, roughly 70 percent of the women running were Democrats. Consider the advantage with college educated women and thus, more women running for Congress. The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers estimates that 529 women filed to run in U.S. House and Senate races this cycle; a little less than half of them made it all the way to November’s general election. Thousands of women—literally—across 46 states put themselves up for statehouse positions, running as incumbents, as challengers, or for open seats.

White college-educated women weighed in heavily for Democrats, with 59% voting for Democratic House candidates (compared with 42% of white women without college degrees). In contrast, in the 2016 elections white college-educated women split their votes evenly between Democrats and Republicans seeking U.S. House seats, with 49% opting for the Democratic candidate in their district and 49% opting for the Republican candidate, suggesting that white college-educated women have become more Democratic over the past two years. (White college-educated men, it should be noted, have also become more Democratic in their choices, with 47% voting for Democratic House candidates in 2018, compared with 38% in 2016; however, in contrast to highly educated women, more white college-educated men, 51%, voted for Republican House candidates in 2018 than for Democratic House candidates.)

Democratic women's candidacies were energized by the votes of women. For example, Michigan gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer received 60% of women's votes, compared with only 47% of men's, propelling her to victory. Similarly, Nevada's newly elected U.S. senator, Jacky Rosen, was supported by 58% of women voters, but only 42% of men.

The Future is now: Advocates for more women in politics hope that even the women who lost will stay in the game and run again, thus continuing to grow the number of women in office.

Republicans met the weekend of November 17th in DC and shared their vision to get more women to run. Yes, it would be wise to move the needle for the future though there is good data on white women voters for Republicans.

Advocacy groups are numerous today such as Emily’s List and are more likely to be supported by donors than Republican groups, like Susan B. Anthony’s List. What’s more, these kinds of groups are more likely to be better integrated into the Democratic Party’s political culture.

Edie Fraser is a member of the Enterprising Women Advisory Board and has been inducted into the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame and received the Enterprising Women Legacy Award. She is the former chairman and CEO of STEMconnector, where she built a one-stop best practices initiative for STEM and was the founder and CEO of Million Women Mentors. MWM is a movement with 2.3 million pledges to mentor girls and young women for STEM. Edie was also founder and CEO of Diversity Best Practices, as well as the founder of the Business Women’s Network. She is the former chair of the World Affairs Council in Washington DC and is a founding member of C200 and a member of its board. She is on the steering committee of Paradign4Parity, and has been the recipient of more than 52 awards for women, diversity and community.

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