An Election Reflection

By on November 13, 2018

A historic number of women elected into Congress after 2018 election.

A record-breaking number of women who ran for Congress during the 2018 Midterm Election emerged victorious on Tuesday, Nov. 6 and are poised to bring diversity and change to America’s government in 2019.

With results still being finalized, an unprecedented 98 women have been projected to win seats in the House of Representatives, which is an increase from the 84 who are currently seated. An additional 13 women won races for the Senate, excluding the 10 who were not up for re-election. This means that at least 121 women will be serving in the United States Congress in 2019, and will occupy 23 percent of the 535 seats.

These results contribute to an increasing presence of women in Congress, the population of which has been just 20 percent female in 2018.

“Historically, I think that people have been hesitant to elect women,” senior psychology major and Women in Support of Humanity President Mikaela Rooney said. “However, I think this recent election shows us that these attitudes are slowly changing. Perceptions of women have come a long way in the past 100 years, but we still have work to do.”

The 2018 Midterms have been widely anticipated as an opportunity to gauge America’s political climate and to gain insight into the attitudes of voters. The almost two years of Donald Trump’s presidency have polarized much of the nation, and have stirred up issues that hit close to home for voters including immigration, race relations and gender equality.

Women have been quick to make their voices heard in the midst of the political tension. Immediately after Trump’s inauguration, millions of people across the country participated in The Women’s March, an effort to promote equality and the largest single-day protest in American history, according to crowd scientists. Since then, mobilization has continued in the form of the #MeToo movement, the Time’s Up campaign and now a groundbreaking number of women running for office.

“This president has spurred on women to [race],” sophomore political science major and Quinnipiac Young Americans for Liberty President Alexander Burns said. “President Trump has been a very divisive president and I’m sure his words brought many more women out.”

Overwhelmingly, the women who ran and won during the midterms were Democrats: 84 of the 98 women elected to the House and 10 of the 13 elected to the Senate, to be exact. This still leaves room for Republican women to make gains in Congress during future elections.

“Without the full participation of women on both sides of the aisle, it will be impossible to achieve gender parity in Congress,” Rutgers Center director Debbie Walsh said to USA Today.

Despite the one-sidedness of the victories, the female winners of this election will be bringing a great deal of ethnic and racial diversity to Congress in 2019.

In series of milestones for the nation, Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), will be the first Muslim women to ever be elected to Congress. They won their races with 84.6 percent and 78.3 percent of the vote, respectively.

“Every progress this country ever achieved came about because people were willing to do something to make that progress happen,” Omar said to CBS. “In this time, in our nation’s history, I couldn’t sit on the sidelines and not be part of a group of people who were insisting on a set of values that got us closer to the America we know we can have and the America we know we deserve.”

Joining Tlaib and Omar in the pages of history will be Young Kim (R-CA), the first Korean-American woman to be sent to Congress, as well as Sharice Davids (D-KS), and Debra Haaland (D-NM), the first Native American women to be elected.

“Seventy years ago, Native Americans right here in New Mexico couldn’t vote,” Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, said to supporters on election night. “Growing up in my mother’s pueblo household and as a 35th generation New Mexican, I never imagined a world where I would be represented by someone who looks like me. Tonight, New Mexico, you are sending one of the very first Native American women to Congress.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), also broke records by being the youngest woman to win a Congressional seat, at age 29. A Latina from the Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez came from humble beginnings and ran a 100 percent people-funded campaign advocating for “dignified healthcare, tuition-free higher education, quality employment, and justice for all.” She is one of 25 newly-elected millennials to be a part of Congress in 2019, who together will be lowering the average age of federal lawmakers by 10 years.

“Ideally, this progress should have happened sooner, but our country is going through a period of reckoning at the moment,” Rooney said. “Social movements like Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movement are forcing people to look at the grave injustices within our society. This is why I am incredibly optimistic about the diversity that we are seeing in Congress.”

Many individual states made strides as well. Among them were Maine and South Dakota’s first elections of female governors, Democrat Janet Mills and Republican Kristi Noem. Though the two represent vastly different political viewpoints, they both succeeded in conveying their missions and defeating their biggest opponents by margins of 3.4 and 7.6 percent.

Republican Marsha Blackburn also broke convention by being elected Tennessee’s first female senator after defeating democratic candidate Phil Bredesen, who was recently endorsed by pop star Taylor Swift. The win was a historical one, as were the three in Iowa that resulted in the state’s election of its first female governor and first two female House members: Republican Kim Reynolds, Democrat Abby Finkenauer and Democrat Cindy Axne.

“This [midterm] does make me optimistic about the level of diversity in our country’s leadership,” sophomore political science major and Her Campus co-president Elizabeth Lupinacci said. “I do think this increase in diversity should have happened earlier, however, it is happening now and I don’t think it should stop!”

Further breakthroughs from this midterm took place in Texas, which will be sending Democrats Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia as its first Latinas to Congress. Additionally, Massachusetts’s democratic Ayanna Pressley and Connecticut’s democratic Jahana Hayes are the first African-American congresswoman from each state.

Hayes, the winner of the race for Connecticut’s 5th Congressional District, defeated her Republican opponent Manny Santos by a margin of 11.6 percent. She promoted progressive policies throughout her campaign and resonated with her community as a dedicated and relatable candidate.

“You know what I stand for. You know what I believe in,” Hayes said during a speech on election night. “But the votes show that you also believe that we are so much better together. You also believe that true leaders lead from the front and lead by example, and you reject all of this hate and intolerance and this indescribable fear that does not define who we are.”

Hayes acknowledges that she couldn’t have won alone. Connecticut saw a 65.81 percent voter turnout rate during this election, which just exceeds the usual range of 55 to 65 percent according to a report from Connecticut’s Secretary of the State Denise Merrill. The majority of votes were for Democrats, upholding Connecticut’s reputation as a primarily blue state.

Nationwide, the United States Election Project estimates that 47 percent of eligible voters, or 110 million people, cast their ballots during the midterms, which comes close to surpassing record turnout of 49 percent in 1996. This is an impressive number given that in the 2014 midterms, only 36.7 percent voted. Female voters were an influential part of this year’s voting demographic, making up 52 percent of the vote.

“It may be women candidates who save our enthusiasm advantage by mobilizing women voters,” Democratic pollster Celinda Lake said to Reuters. “Women candidates help get women voters out, and that is a very important thing for [our government].”

In a survey done by Reuters and Ipsos, “when asked to rate their anger on a scale of 1 to 10–with 10 being extreme anger–Democrats were a 7.6 toward Trump, with Democratic women more angry than men.” This showed in the midterms, with 59 percent of women voting for Democratic candidates, according to CNN exit polls.

“I think that the country’s attitude on women is shifting,” Lupinacci said. “I believe the shift is coming from current events such as the Kavanaugh hearings where some American women’s faith in the system was diminished. People are getting mad and they are getting motivated to do something about the issues that are concerning to them.”

In short, women on both sides of the campaigns have set a new precedent for the next election. In 2019, America can expect to see the new female officials bringing diversity, new perspectives and long-awaited representation to Congress.

“Women, specifically women of color, are taking matters into their own hands and I think that it shows,” Rooney said. “I think the past two years have proven that women have something to say and they are demanding to be heard.”

 

President Judy Olian’s ’10 point countdown’ to being female leader

University President Judy Olian spoke to a crowd of Quinnipiac students and working professionals on her experience as a woman in leadership at the People’s United Center for Women & Business event “Connecting Women. Building Community.” last Tuesday morning. After reflecting on her experiences of coming to America from Australia, recounting her international studies and cracking a few jokes at her ex-husband’s expense, Olian expressed her thoughts on women in leadership in 2018. 

“Who would’ve thunk that in 2018 we still wouldn’t be there,” Olian said to the crowd. 

The president then delivered her 10 best pieces of advice for women aspiring to be leaders. Here’s what she had to say.  – M. Fraitag

 

 

Reflections and aspirations from the women of The Chronicle Editorial Board

We are living in a pivotal moment in history where, unfortunately, women are still being forced to celebrate assuming leadership that men have held for years. We, the female leaders of The Quinnipiac Chronicle, want to start a dialogue on these achievements, but not consider them unwarranted or surprising, because to do this would be to halt any sort of normalization of women in leadership. 

Rather, we hope to shed light on the women who have been acting as leaders in this country for decades, whether they held the title or not. All of the women you’ve read about in the news lately may have just earned a title, but they have undoubtedly been leaders for years. 

As females in a college setting in 2018, we are fortunate enough to apply for and assume leadership roles without the question of our gender. That is why we, the nine female leaders on the fall 2018 Editorial Board, want to use our voices to spread appreciation, admiration and motivation for the women in leadership of yesterday, today and tomorrow.

I can’t imagine living in a time when women were not allowed to vote, were not apart of the workforce and were expected to be the sole caretaker of the family. I am so lucky for the privileges and growth I get to enjoy by being able to attend college, hold a job and be a student leader. But I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the female predecessors who fought hard for my future even when there was the possibility they wouldn’t see the day their work paid off. We have seen significant progress in the past 100 years but it isn’t enough. The the gap of inequality between men and women has gotten smaller but some issues have remained and rather evolved. We must keep fighting; for ourselves and for the future women of the next generations.

– Christina Popik
Editor-in-Chief

It is not enough to look up to women in leadership. We, as young women, must strive to be the leaders that we would have looked up to as girls. Whether it be as politicians, as journalists, as students or simply as people. We have come a long way, but there is still so much more work to do before we can truly achieve equality. If we don’t assume this responsibility as our own,  that journey will be even more prolonged. So step up and be the leader you’ve always wanted to look up to, if you don’t, who will?

– Madison Fraitag
Creative Director

Women have grown up learning about the successes of men in government for decades. Now it’s time for women to make history as a new wave of female leaders step into government roles. As women, we must believe in ourselves and each other. Not just believing that we can do anything a man can, but that we can do all of that and so much more. Don’t stop and assume the ‘comfortable’ positions. Reach for the ‘untouchable’ ones that no female has dared to do before.

– Amanda Perelli
Managing Editor 

This election has reignited the hope I have for equality to be spread over this country. Women are capable of anything they put their minds to and do their tasks with swiftness and courage. There are so many huge problems affecting women that impact our daily lives and are selective to us, never revealing their true devastation to members of the opposite sex. As an editor on The Chronicle, there is a strong bond between the female staff, and it is a strength to be an editor under another female while we make this paper something we’re all proud of. To also attend Quinnipiac University with current president Judy Olian leading the student body, it sets an amazing example for every woman at the university and shows us that progress can be achieved.

– Charlotte Gardner
Arts & Life Editor

One hundred years ago, women couldn’t vote. They couldn’t serve on a jury, they couldn’t become lawyers or accountants. This midterm election. Today, more women will serve in Congress than ever before. Some the youngest, some of the first of their race or ethnicity and for some, they will be the first woman to ever serve in their state. This  has been a monumental year for women in leadership in our country and we will never go back to where we were 100 years ago. We can only go up from here because we can, we will and we have always been capable.

– Kelly Ryan
Web Director

The inequality women face in society has become something more of a joke nowadays. I never considered myself a feminist growing up because of the negative association that surrounded the term, but that doesn’t mean when my guy friends constantly badgered me to ‘get in the kitchen and make them a sandwich’ that it didn’t tug at something beyond the annoyed grimace or laugh I used to play it off. The first step towards changing the stigma is acknowledging the stigma and although there’s been progress, especially this year, I don’t quite think we’re there yet. It’s a humanity movement, not just a women’s movement and society has not grasped that, but that doesn’t mean we, as women can’t take the first step.

– Jessica Ruderman
News Editor

We broke through one glass ceiling, but there are still many more to break through. Women are getting stronger and stronger because of everything we’ve been through.,from voting to breaking gener norms. The revolution is not over, there are more voices to be heard and understood. This is just another step to an equal society.

– Janna Marnell
Design Editor

This election is proving that breaking the barrier matters. So many of the newly appointed government officials, whether it be Congress or local, have become the first of their race, gender or sexual orientation to represent their area. It is amazing to experience these firsts but it is even more exciting to know that in the near future, the country won’t need to celebrate these victories because it will just be normal. These achievements in Congress show the power of this generation and how we view women and people of different ethnicities and cultures as equals to white men. This election showed record numbers of voters in the youngest demographic. We made a difference and it can only go up from here.

– Morgan Tencza
 Photography Editor

The amount of progress made in the past decade has been extraordinary and yet, it’s still not over. Women need to continue to believe in themselves and in their abilities. These milestones reached during the midterm election show that women of all different ethnicities are capable of creating a change. It’s empowering to see myself represented in the new wave of politicians that have joined congress. It also instills hope that there will be policies made with my generation of women in mind. With all of this history being made, I hope that it inspires more women to realize the worth of their voice and that anything is possible.

– Alexis Guerra
Associate Arts & Life Editor

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