The 2018 midterm saw great victories for the Democratic Party but more importantly, for the first time in America’s history, Congress will resemble the people it has sworn to serve. The 116th Congress will include the first black representative from Massachusetts, the first Muslim woman, the first Palestinian women, the first Native American women, and the first Latina representatives from Texas1 Voters has also elected the first female governor of Guam and its first openly gay governor. Nationwide, over 244 LGBTQ candidates ran this year and 234 women won House and Senate primaries. Women now hold over 20% of congressional seats for the first time and one-third of all House candidates were women of color. How the Midterms Made History
Democrats ran on the idea that this Midterm was a referendum against Trump, but this is not unique; all midterm elections have been referendums on the sitting president. What is unique about this midterm is the voter turnout which was uncharacteristically high. Over 113 million voters made their voices heard this election, which makes this year the first midterm to exceed 100 million votes.3 To put things into perspective, 63 million people voted for Trump in 2016 and 60 million voted for Democrats alone in the House this midterm. The Midterms are a referendum on Trump: He’s embracing it. The unprecedented voter turnout combined with historic democratic wins at both state and local levels make one thing very clear: This election was, in fact, a referendum on Trump’s bigotry and sexism. Voters heard his claims that some people do not matter or belong in America: they heard his claims that America was not great before him, and they voted.
Some would argue that this optimism about the current political climate is misplaced, but those people only need to look at the voter turnout among millennials to see that change imminent. Millennials represent one-third of eligible voters and this year over 3.3 million of them cast their votes early which is a 188% increase from 2014. 2018’s record-setting voter turn out, in one chart. There was a particularly significant millennial spike in key races like Texas where Beto O’Rourke narrowly lost to Ted Cruz. There is no denying that millennials are notoriously bad at showing up to vote, but a significant reason for that poor turnout is a lack of representation. Young people rarely saw representatives in Congress who they could relate to, but that has clearly changed. For the first time, millennials will see representatives who look like them and think like them. That diversity combined with an increasing amount of hostility towards Trump from both sides seems to be a motivating factor for the millennial voting base. If the 2018 midterm was any indication the blue wave may continue well into 2020.
Alyssa is a PAC Intern at the National Organization for Women (NOW) Action Center in Washington, DC.