In what will certainly go down as one of the most historical elections (and election years) in United States history, the 2018 midterm results offered significant change, foreshadowing, and hope for citizens who are rapidly becoming the new American majority. More than 17 percent of votes were cast by new voters in an election that saw more wins for women, Latinx people, African Americans, and millennials than ever before. While it is too early to tell how the long-term future will shape up for these groups, some historic moments from last night prove that the country is making significant shifts.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Countless Other Latinas Make History
Breakout political star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez officially became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at 29 years old last night. As a Latina from the Bronx who worked tirelessly for her win, running on an unconventional platform, her name will certainly be etched in history books as she is one of the 35 Democratic seats that were won in the House last night. She won a staggering 78% of the vote in New York’s 14th congressional district.
“In this election we saw a significant number of Latinas and other minority women elected to office,” said Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, Unidos US’s Deputy Vice President, Policy and Advocacy. “Among them, Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia won house seats in Texas and will become the first two Latinas in that state’s congressional delegation; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will become the youngest member of Congress; and Michelle Lujan-Grisham won the governorship of New Mexico. Up and down the ticket, more women decided to run, and we hope last night inspires other women to engage in our democracy and run for office in 2020.”
Florida Votes “Yes” on Amendment 4
While there were several progressive upsets in the state, Floridians elected “yes” on the Voting Restoration Amendment (Amendment 4), automatically restoring voting rights to felons (not including murderers and sex offenders) who have served prison time, completed parole or probation, and paid any restitution. That is more than 1.4 million Florida residents with previous records who were once barred from voting that will now be able to participate in future elections – a number that could prove impactful for the future voting patterns of the state, as more people of color will find themselves able to have a voice in Florida’s legislation, representatives, and more.
Texas Got Its First Latina Congresswomen (Yes, More Than One)
In addition to an extremely close Senate race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke, Texas saw other signs of a progressive future as it elected not one, but two, Latina Congresswomen to office. With Texas’ Hispanic population tracking to outnumber white residents by as early as 2022, these elections could be representative of a changing tide. Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are two Latinas who will join others like Ocasio-Cortez in the House. Escobar will take O’Rourke’s vacant seat, while Garcia will represent Texas’ 29th Congressional District in the Greater Houston area (an area which also saw the historic election of 19 African American female judges). These are important wins in a state that continues to fight critical immigration issues.
100+ Women Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives
After shock waves ran through the collective spine of women in the United States, last night the pendulum shifted. For the first time in history, more than one hundred women won hard-fought battles into Congress. From Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts to Lucy McBath (mother of Jordan Davis), to the first Somali-American woman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, to the first Muslim woman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, women broke through the doors of Congress. With a U.S. population where 71% of citizens are women or people of color, these inroads–made by a diverse range of women– may prove pivotal for the future of the country.
The U.S. Saw a Rainbow Wave
More than 240 LGBTQ people ran for office this midterm election, and the community saw historic wins. In Colorado, Jared Polis became the first openly-gay elected governor, in Kansas, Sharice Davids became the first LGBTQ person and Native American to represent in Congress, Chris Pappas became New Hampshire’s first openly gay Congressman and two transgender women, Gerri Cannon and Lisa Bunker, were elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and Annie Craig became the first open lesbian elected in Minnesota. And that’s just to name a few of them. As trans rights, gay marriage, and countless other issues are at stake for the LGBTQ community, these historic wins will continue to shape the Congress and thus, the future of the growing population of LGBTQ people in the U.S.
Immigration Remained a Republican Concern
According to a poll by the Associated Press, 23 percent of people said immigration was the most important issue of the midterm elections–with 2 in 5 Republicans expressing it as their primary issue. As President Trump spoke endlessly about migrant caravans and other immigration issues leading up to the election, this reflects a continued struggle for Latin American immigrants, among others, to elect leaders who have compassionate and thoughtful immigration policies– particularly in areas like Texas where Ted Cruz held on to his Senate seat and Florida where Gillum lost to his accused racist opponent DeSantis (by a meager 55K votes). In two states where immigration is rapidly changing the demographics, progressive gains will be critical for the future of immigrant families.
Registered Young Voters Missed Out
Latinx people and all people of color will also continue to fight for turnout among their youth, as the AP reported that nationally, a deafening 70 percent of already registered voters who chose not to vote in the midterm election were younger than 45. With women ages 18 to 29 voting strongly Democratic (63 percent of those voters favored the Democratic candidate), the millennial and Gen Z voting bloc continues to have the power to vote in favor of people of color on key issues–but they first must show up. It will be up to the Democratic party and supportive organizations to continue to remove roadblocks that prevent young voters from getting to the polls (as registration was not the problem for 70 percent of those who did not turn out), as their votes can significantly change the electorate in a country that saw some of its closest races in history.