In the 2018 midterm elections,Democrats took back control of the House of Representatives, ending a two-year streak in which Republicans controlled the White House and both houses of Congress.
Meanwhile, Republicans gained seats in the Senate in a highly anticipated referendum on the leadership of President Donald Trump.
These elections broke major records for:
- Fundraising for congressional elections
- Early-voter turnout in a non-presidential election
- The number of candidates running
- The number of female candidates running
- The number of female candidates elected
- The number of LGBT candidates running
- The number of women of colour running
- The youngest woman ever elected to Congress
- The first Native American women elected to Congress
- The first Muslim women elected to Congress
- The first Korean-American woman elected to Congress
- The first openly gay governor
Here a closer look at all the major records this year’s midterm elections have broken.
Fundraising in a congressional election
This year’s midterms are the most expensive congressional elections in US history, with the Center for Responsive Politics projecting that a total of $US5.2 billion will be spent when all is said and done, far outdoing the previous record of $US4.4 billion set in 2016.
Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic Senate candidate who ultimately lost to Ted Cruz in Texas, broke an all-time quarterly fundraising record in the 3rd quarter of 2018, raking in $US38 million from individual donors.
In the House, the July 2017 special election in Georgia’s 6th congressional district set a record for the most expensive House race in history with $US56 million spent.
Other wealthy House and Senate candidates such as Gil Cisneros in California, Scott Wallace in Pennsylvania, and Rick Scott in Florida poured tens of millions of dollars into their own campaigns.
Early-voter turnout in a non-presidential election
Voter turnout is typically quite low in non presidential elections, but this year saw record levels of early voter turnout, with 39 million Americans estimated to have voted early, according to the Election Project.
Over 40 million Americans are expected to have voted between absentee in the 2018 midterm elections when all ballots are counted, a stunning 32% increase over the 27.2 million who voted in 2014, according to Michael McDonald,Director of the Florida Elections Project.
Multiple states have shattered their previous records for early-voter turnout, leading experts to project that this year’s midterm elections could have the highest turnout in a non presidential year in at least 52 years. Just 36% of eligible voters voted in 2014.
In 27 states, the total number of early ballots cast was greater the total number cast in the 2014 midterms, with the biggest leaps in turnout rates occurring in Florida, Texas, and Georgia-which set a historical record for the highest-ever early voter turnout in a midterm election.
Voter turnout especially spiked among young voters under 30, a historically unreliable voting bloc. 2018 youth voter turnout exceeds 2014 levels in at least 12 states, with those rates doubling in Texas, Nevada, New Jersey, and Georgia.
When all is said and done, the 2018 midterm elections could set a new record high for total voter turnout in a midterm election, too.
The New York Times estimated that roughly 114 million ballots were cast this year – way ahead of the 83 million that were cast in the 2014 midterms.
The number of candidates running
A record number of people filed to run for office this election season, according to NPR – perhaps because Americans started paying closer attention to politics after Trump took office.
The number of female candidates running and elected
An all-time record number of women ran for – and won – Congressional races in 2018, breaking the record for the number of women serving in the the US Congress.
On election night, a record-breaking 103 women won election to Congress. Those 103 women, combined with 10 female Senators not up for re-election, make for a total of 113 women in Congress, beating the previous record of 107 women in Congress before the midterms.
Women won their primaries to become their respective parties’ nominees in 235, or 45%, of House races, breaking the 2016 record of 167.
And women were the major party nominees in 22, or 63%, of Senate races, beating the previous high of 18 set in 2012.
Female candidates out-preformed previous records at the state level, too.
Sixteen women were their parties’ gubernatorial nominees this year, breaking the previous record of 10 women in 1994. Another record 3,379 women were their parties’ nominees for state legislative seats.
Some scholars have compared the surge of women stepping up to run for office this year to “The Year of the Woman” in 1992, when record numbers of women ran for, and won, seats in the House of Representatives and US Senate following Anita Hill’s testimony against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for allegedly sexually harassing her.
“This year certainly has the potential to be another year of the woman,” Laurel Harbridge-Yong, a political scientist at Northwestern University, told Business Insider in September, adding that displeasure with Trump and the fallout from Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation “could mobilize white suburban women, a really key segment of the electorate, to vote for Democratic congressional candidates.”
The number of women of colour running
This year’s midterms not only yielded a record number of female candidates, but women of other marginalized identities. This year saw a 75% increase in women of colour running for Congress since 2012, with several of those candidates poised to make history.
The number of LGBT candidates running
A record-high of at least 244 candidates who identify as LGBT ran for office at the state and federal level between the primaries and general election. All of them are Democrats.
Some of the House candidates who are set to increase LGBT representation in Congress include Gina-Ortiz Jones in Texas, Sharice Davids in Kansas, and Chris Pappas in New Hampshire, just to name a few.
The youngest woman ever elected to Congress
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, 29, became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
The first Native American women elected to Congress
Democrats Deb Haaland of New Mexico and Sharice Davids of Kansas became the first Native American congresswomen.
The first Korean-American woman elected to Congress
Republican Young Kim from California will be the first Korean-American woman in Congress.
The first Muslim women elected to Congress
Democrats Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan were elected as the first-ever female Muslim members of Congress.
The first openly LGBT governor
Jared Polis, who won the governor’s race in Colorado, will be America’s first-ever openly gay male governor.