Yesterday, Americans elected 117 (and counting) women into public office. 42 of those women are women of color. 100 of them are Democratic.
In the House, there’s a Democratic majority. And a majority of elected officials who believe in common sense gun laws.
In the Bronx, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress. “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….”
In Colorado, Jared Polis became the state’s first openly gay Governor.
In Connecticut, Jahana Hayes is projected to be the first Black women elected to Congress from that state.
In Illinois, Lauren Underwood unseated a four-term congressman.
In Kansas, Sharice Davids is the first openly lesbian congresswoman to represent the state.
In Maine, Janet Mills became the state’s first female Governor.
In Massachusetts, Ayanna Pressley will be the first Black woman to represent the state in Congress after defeating her ten-term incumbent in the primaries.
In Michigan, Rashida Tlaib is the first Palestinian-American elected to the House.
In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar is the first Somali-American legislator in the US.
Together, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first Muslim-American women ever elected to Congress.
In New Mexico, Deb Halaand is the first indigenous woman to represent the state in Congress.
Together, Sharice Davids and Deb Halaand are the first indigenous women ever elected to Congress.
Also in New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham is projected to become the first Democratic Latina governor in the US.
In New York, Antonio Delgado, is projected to win his bid for Congress, despite months of racist attacks from his opponents.
Also in New York, Tish James became the first woman elected as attorney general in this state, the first Black woman elected to statewide office and the first black person to serve as attorney general.
In Texas, Veronica Escobar won in a district that’s been Republican for fifty-five years. She and Sylvia Garcia will become the state’s first two Latinas representing Texas in Congress.
In Georgia, anti-gun violence activist, Lucy McBath, is heading to Congress. McBath’s son, Jordan Davis, was shot and killed in an act of gun violence during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Also in Georgia, Stacey Abrams is waiting for every last ballot to be counted because, in her words, “In a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work for everyone, everywhere, not just in certain places, and not just on a certain day.” (If you can donate even a few dollars to her campaign, head here.)
In Florida, Andrew Gillum lost his race for Governor but earned 49 percent of the vote in his bid for Governor despite clear aims at racist voter suppression and overtly racist campaigning. Also in Florida, 64 percent of the voters voted to pass Amendment 4, restoring voting rights to ~1.2 million citizens convicted of felonies.
In Texas, Beto O’Rourke lost his race for Congress, but earned 48.3 percent of the vote and raised $70 million dollars without the help of PACs. Democrats in Texas gained 12 House seats due, at least in part, to enthusiasm created by his campaign.
There’s a lot to feel hopeful about. And a lot to feel angry about. What’s abundantly clear is that the victories that we can celebrate today were won not because of a healthy and functioning democracy, but in spite of a system that’s been rigged from the beginning. In spite of virulent racism. In spite of misogynist rhetoric and barriers to entry. In spite of systems that favor the rich and the white and the male, and the privileged. In spite of gerrymandering and voter suppression. In spite of white women voting over and over again for politicians who uphold a racist patriarchy.
Still. I’m choosing hope. I’m looking to these leaders—elected or not—for guidance. I’m hoping it’s clear that what’s needed is more work, not less.
Huge thanks to everyone who joined me in chalking neighborhoods and streets and your own front stoops. I’ve saved as many stories as I could in my VOTE highlight.
Information on women elected via the LA Times. Information on individual races via the New York Times and Google Election Results.
Photo of Ilhan Omar’s by Mark Vancleave for the Star Tribune.
Here in London this morning I was almost too nervous to turn the radio on and listen to the news. This is the first glimmer of hope we’ve had for some time and proof that positive change is possible. Well done for all the hard work you did in the run up to the elections.
This election day appears, to me, as a stepping stone toward a more democratic future. I am very hopeful about what comes next and the renewed energy for *progressive* Democratic candidates. Thanks for putting your voice behind these efforts!
Change is afoot!
Today, for the first time in two years, I woke up feeling hopeful. It’s a beautiful day.
Thank you for posting this. I’m feeling a little bummed today. I was hoping for more of a blue wave — I just cannot wrap my head around why anyone would vote Republican after the past 2 years — but I am saying this from the perspective of living inside my little liberal bubble. I was actually scared that NJ would elect a Republican senator (and we almost did! scary) but we avoided that as well as flipped some House seats, so there’s that! I feel like my vote actually counted this time. But you’re right that we made a lot of strides and it could have been much worse!
Also, I keep seeing a lot of “white women, talk to your fellow white women,” but am feeling a little helpless there as I tend to surround myself with people who voted the way I did. I don’t actually know these women I should be reaching out to. I love that you’re using your platform to do this, but do you have other suggestions for people without platforms this big? I did catch your post a little while ago about listening more to women of color and I know there are great suggestions there, but when it comes to specifically trying to get through to other white women who keep voting for regressive candidates, what do we do when we don’t even know them?
I feel you on this, and have been thinking a lot about it too. When I hear “white women, talk to your fellow white women” I figure it does not assume that I as a white woman have easy access to ALL the white women, but rather that I have the greatest ability to engage in a conversation with members of my demographic who are voting differently — and with that advantage and relative safety, I have the responsibility to get a little uncomfortable and reach out farther.
I’m reading the book White Fragility and I know Erin has recommend the “Seeing White” podcast too — I think we see ourselves in a shared demo because we’re all women but the underlying thing is talking about racism and white supremacy in the patriarchy. I’ll admit that I don’t go into conversations with that statement though — I try to understand and leverage where I have access to “the side door” like a shared interest or network where I’m crossing paths with a greater number of people. Doorknocking in my “liberal bubble” neighborhood also taught me to check my assumptions that a shared zipcode and prevailing candidate means we’re all on the same page. Or being at a dinner party (also in my bubble) and explaining to another white person what the Great Migration was (and wasn’t) — we all, myself included, have a lot to learn and unlearn about our history. Voter suppression and voting rights timelines shared in the past few days have made that even more clear.
So I guess I’m trying not to feel overwhelmed by what to do about people I don’t know, and focus on being active in conversation with the people I do — or, can — know.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how I don’t often come into meaningful connection with people who have different political beliefs than I do and how that’s a part of the reason our country is so polarized. Even though I live in Oregon, I live in a small rural costal town that went for 45 two years ago. I rarely have what I perceive to be the opportunity to engage and listen to folks of differing beliefs about their positions. After a lot of frustration over the last two years, I have realized that a) no one changes their mind if they don’t believe you respect them (e.g. yelling at strangers online, or even in person, has never converted a soul) b) this necessitates we listen first and ask questions to understand the values that lead folks to their beliefs (instead of assigning them malicious intent no matter how obvious we feel it to be). When I was growing up, I was able to do this through school and church, but since I am no longer involved in either, I have been trying to figure out how to change that. I do regular volunteering with our local Intimate Partner Violence shelter and resource center, but naturally most folks there are of like minds politically. I am thinking that getting involved in local government is the only way I can burst my own bubble and do something meaningful in this regard. I would also welcome other’s thoughts around this topic.
Hi there: I’ve found this thread to be really instructive and full of excellent resources for tackling some of these questions: https://twitter.com/DuffyInDC/status/1060237930118168576
Hey Hannah! What coastal town in Oregon do you live in? My grandfather and his wife live in Waldport. I visited the Oregon coast about 10 years ago and I had a great time. I went in November, when it rained daily, but it was still wonderful.
Hi Rachel! I live in Tillamook (where the cheese comes from)!
Hey there! Not sure if my reply below will show up for you, so reposting just in case. This thread is excellent and filled with resources: https://twitter.com/DuffyInDC/status/1060237930118168576
I’ve been thinking about your comment all week, MK. As someone who grew up in a conservative part of Ohio, when I moved to New York City, a part of me felt so relieved; at last, I would be surrounded by people who shared my values. One of the saddest realizations I had during my time in NYC is that even though that was true, problematic thinking is everywhere. Often it is racism, but sometimes it takes the form of prejudice against poor people or religious people or people who live in rural areas, and it’s always worth speaking out whenever someone is being racist, bigoted, or unjust whenever you can, and at least sharing that you think about things a different way.
Where I live now is on the edge of a blue island in a red state; my neighborhood is split and skews Republican, and there has been a real deterioration in the sense of shared community and general kindness as peoples’ positions have gotten more and more entrenched. Theoretically, I should be well-positioned geographically to have conversations with white women who disagree with me, but I’ve found that listening and asking questions only works if someone is willing to have a conversation in the first place, and even when those conversations take place, they don’t always go the way you’d wish. For a while, I worked in an office with young women who supported Trump, and we had many conversations about why that was—we even attended an Equal Justice Initiative training together as part of some work for a client, and in the end, they were unpersuaded that there was anything at all remotely problematic about Trump or anything legitimate about the idea of white privilege. I hope maybe someday those conversations and experiences will help them see things differently.
The one thing I’ve found that has real value is being clear at all times about where you personally stand and making it known that you are someone who is willing to talk/listen when someone else decides they are willing to talk/listen. Posting a Clinton yard sign after we moved in meant that half the people on my little street stopped waving hello and still don’t really speak to us, but it brought my immediate next-door neighbors such joy and relief; they weren’t alone anymore.
It’s also worth considering this thread by Jennifer Jeffrey on evangelical worldviews:
All this to say, we should be hopeful, but also be prepared for a long, long struggle.
Here in Maine, where we’ve elected Lepage as our governor (a self-proclaimed Trump-equivalent) not once but twice!, I was scared to hope for change this election. It was a wonderful feeling this morning to wake up to Janet Mills. Thank you for this nationwide summary. We have a lot to hope for, and to work to change.
I was listening to On Being this morning on the way to work. It was an episode from a couple of months ago with John Paul Ledrach and America Ferrea. He mentioned the concept of the “200 year present” as conceived of by Quaker Elise Boulding: “If you just calculate, for a minute — so when she said “present,” she meant, like, past, present, future. And she’s saying, you live in a 200-year present. So if you go back to when you — at your youngest age that you can remember, who the oldest person was that held you, and then just calculate back to their birthdate, roughly…. and then you do the second part of the process, which is, you think about the youngest member of your extended family — minus two months. And then imagine a robust life — to what decade might she or he live? And then she would always say to us, once we’ve done all this kind of work, she would look at us and say, “You were held and touched, and you will touch the lives, of people that cover a 200-year present.” That concept made me feel hopeful this morning.
Thanks for sharing your optimism. I was feeling more melancholy than hopeful this morning, but this actually brought tears to my eyes and a little bit of hope to my heart.
Just to add another for Minnesota – we elected Tim Walz and Peggy Flanagan as our new Governor and Lieutenant Governor. Peggy Flanagan is now, I believe, the highest ranking indigenous woman to hold public office. I will take all the positive outcomes we can get!
Thanks for this nice roundup. I share some of the positive feelings. But like MK, I am also feeling down, and disappointed–disturbed and ashamed and mad, really–about the voting patterns of my fellow white women in particular. I will be looking for ways to try to reach out to and make convincing arguments within this demographic for the next go-round, although right now, I have a lot of anger.
In our small town of Greenville, North Carolina our first Black Female Sheriff – Paula Dance – was elected! Thank you for reminding us of all the positive change that is happening across our country! Inclusive communities will lead to a more inclusive country overall.
Thank you so much for your hard work mobilizing voters in the lead-up to the midterms. Thank you for standing up and speaking out for what is right and for what matters, even when it was hard and sometimes hurtful. xo
PS. Please double-check this but I believe Sharice Davids is Native American so is also the first Native American woman to be elected to Congress.
Yes! On the list, just further down!
Love the post, Erin! Today was the first time i could breathe easier since Nov. 2016.
I worked as a poll worker yesterday and while I am in decidedly in a super bubble (Alphabet City/East Village), there was amazing turnout! So many young people, so many families voting together, a sweet son taking his very elderly mother. I even met the young cousin of a friend and former co-worker that I had heard about for years. It was a looooong day, but so inspiring to see all the people in my neighborhood and meet the other workers who were so kind and knowledgeable. I highly recommend it, if you are able.
Hi Erin – You’ve forgotten Lauren Underwood in the Illinois 14th!
She’s my soon to be representative and I’m so proud!! She is the first candidate I ever actually door-knocked for! I can’t wait to go from calling every morning to complain to calling every morning to say thank you for the support on the issues that are most important to me!
I am a Canadian who is growing increasingly concerned about divisive, hateful politics taking hold in my home province and across the country. Your post today is hopeful, even if it can’t be as triumphant as many of us hoped. I am glad to see ripples of positive change gaining momentum, and I hope that the same spirit will have an influence on the politics in my country.
Fantastic summary, which reminds us all that there is a lot to celebrate. Thank you for that. I wrote a little bit about the election and my disappointment, but was more focused on some local elections that made me shake my head (and I’m in New York state!). This midterm election (and the events leading up to it, including the Kavanaugh appointment) did a lot to energize me, though, and I’ve made some personal realizations and I’m heading in the direction of being more proactive and less head in the sand (which has been much of my reaction once 2016 came along). No more!
These are the reasons why we should never lose hope or stop fighting for our dreams. You never know when you’re actually gonna make it.
Two transgender folks elected in New Hampshire too!
Let’s hear it for voices that have always been there, but that now get to be heard!!! Hell yeah!
Amazing! And yes!
Yes, so much more to do. And people worked SO HARD to get those more progressive voices into power. We can’t let Pelosi compromise it all away through the “bipartisanship” she has already pledged. Frankly, I don’t see any way to compromise with racist, misogynist nationalists, aka Republicans
Erin, thank you for everything you do. I want to count my reasons to smile given the state of things and you help.
In California, Young Kim became the first Korean American woman elected to Congress.
Fantastic summary! Could we add Kim Schrier to the list? She will represent the exurban 8th district of Washington and will be the sole woman doctor in Congress. She also flipped a district that has been red for its 38 year history. And she’s another political newcomer who brings a breath of fresh air!
First Korean in Cali! Young Kim!
Thank you for good perspective! I had the pleasure of voting for Ilhan on Tuesday. And for Peggy Flanagan, our new Lt. Gov elect in Minnesota, who I read is the first indigenous woman in the country elected to executive office.
I’m thrilled with our election results too, Erin. I feel compelled to caution against using a broad brush against white women. Many white women most certainly do not support the racist patriarchy and vote straight D. Many white R women also chose differently in this election seeking a check on power. I love men; but women need to stick together. More sisters in charge; more justice.
Sadly this is not borne out by the numbers.
I’m originally from New Mexico, but I’ve lived abroad for almost a decade now, so casting my vote early for Deb was extremely exciting (though somewhat anti-climatic). It is hard, of course, to not want to have taken even more seats and to be disappointed by Beto’s loss (though hopefully Stacey Abrams will still have a shot in Georgia!) but you’re right. There was SO much to be positive about! x
Comments are moderated.