What a Night! The Historic Outcomes of Election 2012 and Where We Go From Here
Nail-biter. Nerve-wracking. History-making. These are just a few of the terms being used after Tuesday night’s reelection victory of President Barack Obama, and how relatively early the race was called for him when so many observers thought we’d be counting ballots for days. But when it comes to women, it should be called “The Night of Firsts!”
There were many other history-making races, especially for women candidates around the country. While women voters supported the president by a margin of 55% to 44%, those same women also helped to create a night of many election “firsts” in the continuing effort to achieving political parity and actually breaking through the now-famous 18 million cracks in the electoral glass ceiling Hillary Clinton told us about in 2008.
In 2013, there will be 20 women in the U.S. Senate, more than at any time before in our history. 14 of those historic women are EMILY’s list supported candidates, including the first openly gay U.S. Senator ever, current Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Elizabeth Warren, who unseated Republican incumbent U.S. Senator Scott Brown in Massachusetts, and current U.S. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono from Hawai’i, all three of whom will be the first women U.S. Senators ever to be elected from their states!
The House of Representatives will also reach a historic number of women in its ranks -- 78 women, up from 73 – with several races still left uncalled. Eighteen EMILY’s List women, two incumbents and sixteen challengers have won or are projected to win election to the House including women under forty (Grace Meng of New York and Tulsi Gabbard of Hawai’i), the first women with combat experience (Tulsi Gabbard and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois), and the first women to represent their districts in Congress (Lois Frankel, Cheri Bustos, Annie McLane Kuster, Julia Brownley, Grace Meng).
But the history doesn’t stop there! New Hampshire came away from the 2012 campaign with more than its share of election history-making moments. With the election of Maggie Hassan as Governor, the election of Carol Shea-Porter and Ann McLane Kuster to Congress, and the presence of current Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the Granite State becomes the first ever to have a 100 percent elected female delegation and will become the only state in the nation with a Democratic woman governor when Hassan takes office in 2013.
And don’t forget the women incumbents! Two of our Democratic women incumbents in the House and all of six of our Senate incumbents won their elections, including Claire McCaskill who ran an amazing race against Todd Akin, the candidate who infamously told women that their bodies would refuse to become pregnant if they were the victims of “legitimate rape.” EMILY’s List President Stephanie Schriock said of that race, “Voters in Missouri reelected a true champion for women and families, as Claire McCaskill [joins] a record number of pro-choice Democratic women we’ve helped elect to combat extremists who want to roll back the clock by denying women access to reproductive healthcare and equal pay.”
The results for women could not be any more significant, both in terms of their increased representation in elective office and in terms of the change women can create with their votes and their dollars by helping to elect these women who are tireless advocates for the middle-class, champions of financial reform, fighters for reproductive rights, retirement security, education reform, and so many other issues that are at the top of women voters’ minds.
As significant as these steps forward are, these 2012 victories are really just the beginning and EMILY’s List won’t slow down in its efforts not only to recruit women to run for office, but also in expanding efforts with a two million member strong (and growing!) community that helped to raise a record-breaking $51.2 million dollars in this election cycle for EMILY’s List candidates through its innovative WOMEN VOTE! Program. The impact of this historic election will be felt long beyond the days and weeks to come. Women and families across America will see firsthand the difference women's leadership can and will make. And elected officials who push extreme policies know that they will be held accountable by the country's most powerful voting bloc – women.