LIke you, we are floating at the overall outcome of Tuesday’s election. Democrats held off a red wave. And finally, there’s evidence the post-Dobbs surge in voter enthusiasm was real: Pro-choice amendments passed in California, Michigan and Vermont, and an anti-choice amendment was defeated in Kentucky.
But there’s another result from Tuesday’s election that is not getting enough attention: With a number of races still outstanding, we feel confident reporting that women’s representation in Congress will likely stay steady—instead of grow—for the first time since the 2010 election. This, in the year of Dobbs.
While some races are still too close to call, a likely scenario is that House Democratic women have a net loss of one seat and Republican women have a net gain of one. Republicans added one new woman to the Senate. This likely puts women right back where we started: just above 27 percent of Congress. We will update and verify these numbers once all the races are called.
During a night that went unexpectedly well for Democrats, it’s disappointing that women didn’t make gains. But we knew this was a possibility. We laid out why earlier this year:
- Democrats did a poor job recruiting women.
- Democratic women incumbents were disproportionately running in competitive races because of the 2018 wave.
- Democratic women represented a disproportionate number of House retirements.
And there were funding inequities as election season progressed, with national Democrats providing late or no funding in key Senate (NC and FL) and House races that went red.
The night looked disappointing too for Republican women, who mostly washed out with the rest of the nonexistent “red wave,” even as Republicans doubled their recruitment of women candidates from 2018 to 2022.
Still, there are real bright spots for Democratic women, especially in many of our “Super States” where they ran in competitive national and state elections.
- In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer won re-election, as did AG Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. Plus, Democrats flipped both statehouse chambers for the first time since 1982.
- In Nevada, it looks like Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Reps. Susie Lee and Dina Titus will hold on by thin margins. Control of the legislature is an open question.
- In Kansas, Gov. Laura Kelly and Rep. Sharice Davids won by comfortable margins, though their races looked like toss ups heading into election season.
- In New Hampshire, Maggie Hassan also won comfortably, though the legislature (a possible two-chamber flip) remains too close to call.
- And Democrats kept control of legislative trifectas in New Mexico and Maine.
- Arizona may not be decided for a while but the numbers so far look good for Katie Hobbs.
Now, you know what we need to do to keep this momentum going: Celebrate and/or cry, gather yourself, and make a plan for protecting vulnerable freshmen in 2024.