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Women’s Records in the 2012 Election

Last night was a historic night for women in American political life. A record number of women ran for Congress in 2012. And while still far from equal, the numbers of women in the next Congress will be historically high.

With a few races too close to call, there will apparently be between 75 and 79 women in the House of Representatives, up from 73 currently serving. There will be 20 in the Senate, up from 17 currently serving. This means that women will comprise about 18 percent of the next Congress, up from under 17 percent in the current Congress.

Other historic achievements last night:

  • Senator-elect Mazie Hirono (D-HI) became the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Senate and Hawai’i’s first female Senator.
  • Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) became the first openly gay person to be elected to the Senate and Wisconsin’s first female Senator.
  • Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) became Massachusetts’s first female Senator.
  • New Hampshire has elected the nation’s first all-female delegation to Congress, as well as a new female governor, Maggie Hassan (D).
  • Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), currently in the lead but whose race has not yet been called, will be the first openly bisexual candidate elected to Congress if she ultimately prevails in Arizona’s ninth district. 

We still have a long way to go. Four states have still never sent a woman to Congress – Delaware, Vermont, Iowa, and Mississippi. And of course we’re still waiting for the first female president. But women broke new barriers in 2012 – and we should be proud.

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