Midterms Signal Greater Emphasis on Women, Diversity

    For the past two years, the Presidency, the Senate, and the House of Representatives have all had a Republican majority. On November 6, however, the House flipped blue, with Democrats officially winning back 30 seats that were not under their control, according to the New York Times– and they could still flip a few more. What makes this election historical, however, is not simply the Democrats winning back the House- it was the fact that many Democrats winning House seats are minorities.

    Ilhan Omar became the first Muslim woman to be elected to the House of Representatives early on Tuesday night. Omar, who will be representing Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, is a Somali immigrant as well. Later in the night, she would be joined by Rashida Tlaib, who will represent Michigan’s 13th district.

    Sharice Davids also broke two barriers by winning her House race. A native of Kansas, Davids was the first Native American woman ever elected to Congress and the first lesbian to ever represent her state.

    Here in Rhode Island, we had elections for both House seats, one Senate seat, and our governor’s office. All of those offices were handily reclaimed by incumbent Democrats- Sheldon Whitehouse got his Senate seat back, and David Cicilline and James Langevin both won their House seats. The closest race in Rhode Island was our governor’s race, where Gina Raimondo won 52.7% of the vote- beating Allan Fung for the second election cycle in a row.

    Democrats made major gains by taking back the House on November 6th. However, the Democrats cannot call election night a complete success.

     Republicans ended up winning many of the most high profile races. In Texas, Democrat Beto O’Rourke embarked on the most expensive Senate campaign in history in an attempt to unseat Ted Cruz. Ultimately, Cruz won 50.9 percent of the Texan vote, with O’Rourke getting only 48.3 percent. The Democrats also lost ground in the Senate, with senators Joe Donnely (D-IN) and Claire McCaskell (D-MO) losing their seats to their Republican counterparts.

    The Democrats also did not fare as well in the Southeast as polls predicted. Florida’s gubernatorial election was between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis, two men on completely opposite sides of the political spectrum. Polls predicted a neck-and-neck race, with many calling a narrow victory for the liberal Gillum. However, DeSantis ended up carrying the day, with Gillum conceding relatively early during the night. The vote may, however, be up for a recount, according to NBC News, as Gillum’s camp is considering un-conceding due to many ballots in traditionally Democratic areas of the state not having been counted yet. Similarly, Florida’s senate race, which Republican Rick Scott barely won, is up for a recount as well.

    Something similar happened just north of Florida- in Georgia’s gubernatorial race, Republican Brian Kemp beat Stacey Abrams. However, Abrams has refused to concede. This is due to allegations of voter suppression coming out against Kemp, the incumbent governor. These two gubernatorial losses, however, were offset by Democrats Laura Kelly and Tony Evers unexpectedly winning the gubernatorial races in Kansas and Wisconsin.

    Additionally, some key races are still going on. Not every state ends up counting all of their ballots on Election Night, and some elections can take upwards of another week to finish. A pivotal Senate race in Arizona between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally finished a full week after Election Night, with Sinema beating McSally according to multiple news outlets. Sinema’s victory means that the Democrats keep the conservative Senate majority small and add a Democratic senator for a state that typically votes Republican.

    Controversies over voting will continue far into the future, with Kemp’s likely reelection in particular looming over his remaining term as governor of Georgia. President Trump has only added to these controversies, alleging that voter fraud took place in the Arizona senate race and demanding a recount.

    However, the future of our country has now been changed. A branch of Congress now stands in opposition with the President. And 2020 will not only put 33 more Senate seats and all 435 representatives’ jobs on the line- the President’s will be as well.

This piece was written in November of 2018 and was finished and published online just days after the election. It won an award in the NESPA Localization Contest.

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