How Diversity Won in the Election

Diversity Goes to Congress

Experts are currently estimating that more than 114 million people voted in these midterm elections, with many states recording voter participation levels at highs not seen for a non-presidential election in decades. Reflecting high voter turnout rates, the winning candidates are more diverse than in any prior election. Frequently under-represented groups made major strides yesterday in both House and Governors’ races.

Women Made Major Gains in Representation

women elected
  • Women have earned their place: 256 women won House and Senate primaries, a record high.
  • There were 33 all women head-2-heads races in the 2018 midterms, including 6 in the Senate. This is the highest number of women vs women races in history.
  • IN CA: Nearly one-third of the candidates that ran for state and federal office are women, the highest percentage in this century.
  • Governor Races: 16 women ran for Governor, 12 Democrats and 4 Republicans. That’s about 43 percent of the Governor races on the ballot this year.
  • More than 100 women are headed to Capitol Hill.

A More Diverse House of Representatives

  • Many historically underrepresented now have a voice.
  • Newly-elected candidates have moved us towards better representation of the diversity in our country.
  • Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib are the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress.
  • Kansas’s Sharice Davids and New Mexico’s Deb Haaland are the first two Native American women to be elected to Congress.
  • Michigan Democrats selected a woman for every statewide office on Tuesday’s ballot.
  • Jahana Hayes is the first Black woman to represent Connecticut in the House, and Ayanna Pressley will do her part as the first Black woman to represent Massachusetts.
  • Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar will be Texas’s first Latina Congresswomen, and Michelle Lujan Grisham became New Mexico’s Governor. The only Hispanic governor of all 50 states.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becomes the youngest woman to be elected to Congress, not only representing the youth, women but also the Latino community.
  • Colorado’s Jared Polis became the first Openly Gay Man elected governor.

The Religious Vote

Many Americans are influenced by their religion when they go to the polls. 17 percent of voters in 2018 identify as religiously unaffiliated—leaving the majority of the population with some kind of affiliation with a religion. Pew Research reports on how the demographics of voters this year breaks down by religious group.

  • 47 percent of voters in 2018 were Protestants, down from 53 percent in 2014 and 55 percent in 2010.
  • 26 percent of voters in 2018 were white and identify as born-again or evangelical Christians—similar to other recent midterm elections.
  • Among Protestants, 56 percent voted for Republican congressional candidates and 42 percent backed Democrats.
  • Among those who identify with faiths other than Christianity and Judaism (including Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and many others), 73 percent voted for Democratic congressional candidates while 25 percent supported Republicans.
  • Voters who say they attend religious services at least once a week backed Republican candidates over Democrats in their congressional districts by an 18-point margin.
  • Catholics have slightly shifted their voting pattern since 2010. In previous elections (2010 and 2014) they leaned Republican by around 10 points. This year, 50 percent favored the Democratic candidate for Congress in their district, while 49 percent favored the GOP’s nominee.

The Latino Factor

Latinos are sometimes referred to as the “sleeping giant,” as a major demographic group that historically has low voter turnout. This year, 29.1 million Hispanics were eligible to vote—a significant increase from the 25.1 eligible Latino voters in 2014. While we don’t have the final results about voter turnout, there are early indicators that this was a record-breaking year for the number of Latinos who cast their vote in a midterm election.

latino candidates

Anthony Gonzalez, Ted Cruz, and Carlos Curbelo

  • Based on absentee and early voting tallies, along with exit polls, there was an increase of than 120 percent increase in Latino voter participation compared to last year’s midterm election.
  • In Texas, Latinos requested 365 percent more early and absentee ballots than in 2014, Catalist data show.
  • Florida saw an increase of 129 percent in requests for early voting and absentee ballots.
  • In California,early and absentee ballot requests increased  by almost 50 percent compared to 2014.
  • In Nevada, preliminary results suggest 62 percent of Nevada voters are white. Out of the 38 percent non-white, 18 percent corresponds to Latino voters.
  • At least 37 Hispanics will serve in the house, a slight increase from the previous 34 Latino representatives.
  • Not all Latino victories were on the Democratic side: According to exit polls, about 69 percent of Hispanics voted for Democrats and 29 percent for Republicans. For example, Anthony Gonzalez became House Representative for Ohio’s 16th district beating Susan Moran Palmer, in a district that is 94 percent white.
  • Florida and Texas: Key Latino States
    • In Florida, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) defeated her Latino contender Carlos Curbelo by 16 points
    • In Texas, Ted Cruz kept his Senate seat, defeating Beto O’Rourke, where Cruz came on top among men (by 15 points) and among women (by 7 points)
    • Non-Whites account for 41% of Texas voters. Out of that 41%, 24% are Latinos who voted for O’Rourke by 63%, the largest margin since 2006.

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