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White women voters didn't really help with the whole "blue wave" thing

More women than ever ran for political office. Sign up for our newsletter following them.

by Carter Sherman
Nov 14 2018, 9:48pm
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More women than ever ran for political office. Sign up for our newsletter following them.

Welcome to the first post-midterms edition of the “She’s Running” newsletter! (OK, last week’s edition technically came out after the midterms, but you know what I mean.) Several races remain uncalled, but the new members of Congress are already attending their first few days of House and Senate school. In total, so far, 23 female senators and 102 female House members will serve in the next session of Congress, while more than 2,000 women will take seats in state legislatures.

That means there are more women than ever before in Congress, and most are Democrats. (So far, only one female Republican, Carol Miller, has been elected as a new member of the House.) But three men will still serve for every one woman in Congress.

This newsletter will continue for a few more weeks, as the last elections wind down. But you can already check out the last installment of the “She’s Running” web series, where my colleagues — led by Emma Fidel and Dan Ming — followed four women running for office for the first time. Find out below how each of these women fared on Election Day and catch up on the rest of the four-part series here.

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Arizona finally has its first female senator in Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who officially flipped Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s seat Monday when she beat Republican Rep. Martha McSally by more than 38,000 votes. Sinema sold herself as a centrist throughout the race, and she kept that up in her victory announcement, where she called herself “an independent voice for all Arizonans.”

FYI: Sinema will be the first openly bisexual member of the Senate.

Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial race in Georgia won’t be called until at least Friday, after a U.S. district judge ordered the state to protect provisional ballots on Tuesday. Abrams’ campaign, which is refusing to concede to her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, said thousands of votes remain uncounted — enough, potentially, to drop Kemp’s share of the votes to less than 50 percent and trigger a runoff election. On Tuesday, protesters supporting Abrams gathered at the Georgia Capitol building, and one state lawmaker was among the 15 arrested.

“If he invited me to a public hanging, I'd be on the front row.” That’s how Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith tried to praise a supporter Sunday. But her comment did not go over well with critics, who pointed outthat countless black Americans died in such “hangings.” More than 600 black people were lynched in Mississippi between 1877 and 1950, at a higher rate than in any other state, and it’s possible that number is even higher.

Hyde-Smith — who’s white and facing a runoff election on Nov. 27 against Democrat Mike Espy, who’s black — later said her comment was only an “exaggerated expression of regard.” But Espy still called it “reprehensible.”

Florida’s Senate and gubernatorial races aren’t the only Sunshine State races undergoing recounts. Democratic medical marijuana lobbyist Nicole Fried is currently leading Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell in the fight to become Florida’s state agriculture and consumer services commissioner, an incredibly wide-ranging role that deals with everything from rollercoasters to clemency to concealed-weapons licensing.

FYI: Of all the major Florida state candidates, Fried has the “dankest” campaign website, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Yes, she wants to expand the commissioner gig to include regulating Florida’s medical marijuana industry, and yes, she did inhale.

If you’re wondering whether Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s progressive, millennial celebrity will translate to Capitol Hill, the New York congresswoman-to-be paid her first visit to House Minority Leader (for now) Nancy Pelosi’s office Tuesday. Ocasio-Cortez joined a sit-in urging Pelosi to establish a committee to aggressively combat climate change; Pelosi has announced that she wants to resurrect a committee to “address the climate crisis.” (A similar committee previously operated under Pelosi’s first tenure as House Speaker.)

Do it for the gram: A few days after Ocasio-Cortez spent her Friday night making mac and cheese and talking politics live on Instagram, she posted another Insta with three fellow freshman congresswomen: Massachusetts’ Ayanna Pressley, Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib, and Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar .

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Women helped drive the blue wave last week: Record-high numbers of female voters went for Democrats, exit polls show. Black and Latina voters overwhelmingly said they chose the Democratic candidates in their House districts, at 92 percent and 73 percent, respectively. Only 49 percent of white women, on the other hand, said they voted for Democrats.

As Glamour’s Celeste Katz wrote, “For those white female voters, education level is a bright, dividing line.” Among college-educated white women, 59 percent said they voted for a Democratic House candidate; only 42 percent of white women without college degrees said they did the same. (That’s still a spike from 2016, when 49 percent of college-educated white women voted for their local Democratic candidate.)

Exit polling isn’t gospel, and these numbers could shift as more data leaks out.

FYI: For the first time ever, more than 20 black women will serve in Congress.

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Mary Catherine Roberson (Photo by Marilyn Sudkamp)

“Onward. That’s what we say. Head up. We come from a movement, especially as women, especially as women of color. We come from long lines of people who had to fight for more than one election term and more than one lifetime. We have that courage in us.”

— Democrat Mary Catherine Roberson, who lost her race for Vermilion County clerk in Illinois last week. I first spoke with Roberson, who’s worked at local schools, last spring for a story about the rise of single mothers running for office.

With the midterms (mostly) in the rear-view mirror, women are already scrambling to turn 2019, 2020, and every year afterward into the next “Year of the Woman.” (Until, ideally, we stop remarking on how remarkable it is that women dare to be politicians.) Roberson, for one, is getting ready to run again. After her loss, she was prepared for her daughters to be heartbroken by the news. But instead, she said, “My middle child said, ‘What’s next, Mom?’"

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Before Kyrsten Sinema’s historic victory in Arizona, a state long considered crimson, correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro met with activists trying to convince the state’s massive Latino voting bloc to turn out.

Stacey Abrams’ gubernatorial future in Georgia is far from certain, but at least one of her ads plays surprisingly well across the political spectrum, as Republican pollster Frank Luntz discovered when he had Georgia voters watch campaign ads from the midterms.

Texan Beto O’Rouke didn’t win a Senate seat, but his Democratic drumbeat reverberated down the ballot: Every single Republican judge in Harris County, home of Houston, lost their seats to Democrats. Josh Hersh and Mimi Dwyer headed down to the Lone Star State to find out more.

The people of Flint, Michigan, are still living off bottled water, years after the town’s name became synonymous with toxic water. Correspondent Antonia Hylton traveled to Flint and met Ariana Hawk, a nonvoter turned activist who’s trying to convince her fellow Michiganders that politicians still care.

Like thousands of other young women across the country, Lydia Hester was driven to political activism after the 2016 election. Unlike many of those activists, Hester is only 17 years old. She can’t even vote — but she’s trying her best to make a change in her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, anyway, as Hylton found.

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