- The 116th Congress was sworn into office on Thursday, January 3.
- The incoming House of Representatives is shaping up to be the most diverse class in history.
- There will be more women, women of colour, openly LGBT members, and millennials serving in the House than ever before.
- Those gains in representation are largely concentrated among Democrats.
- See how the demographics of the House are changing with our interactive graphic.
The 116th Congress was sworn into office on Thursday, and the incoming House of Representatives is shaping up to be the most diverse House class in history.
The 2018 midterms saw historic gains in Congressional representation for women, people of colour, LGBTQ+, and younger candidates – with the vast majority of those gains coming from Democrats.
A record 106 women were elected to serve in the 116th House, an increase of 15% over the 92 women who served in the 115th House. Combined with five new female Senators and 10 female Senators not up for re-election, a total of 131 women will serve in the 116th Congress.
While 52% of the 67 incoming House Democratic freshmen are female, only two, or 4.5% of the 44 incoming Republican freshmen are women – West Virginia’s Carol Miller and Arizona’s Debbie Lesko. Lesko won a special election earlier this year to replace Rep. Trent Franks, who resigned in the wake of a sexual misconduct scandal.
Republicans saw their roster of female House representatives gutted 43% from 23 members to 13, as many Republican women either stepped down to run for higher office – like Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee and Kristi Noem in South Dakota – or were unseated by Democratic challengers.
As the blue wave swept through suburban America, it unseated many Republican women in its wake, including Karen Handel in the Atlanta suburbs, Barbara Comstock in the DC suburbs of Northern Virginia, and Mimi Walters in Orange County, California – formerly reliable Republican areas.
The 116th House also boasts more women of colour than ever before, including the first Native American women to serve in Congress and the first African-American women to represent Illinois and Massachusetts in the House, respectively.
As with gender, the gains in representation for people of colour are heavily concentrated in the Democratic Party. A full 34% of the incoming House Democrats but 2% of their Republican colleagues identify as people of colour. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio will be the only incoming non-white freshman Republican.
Furthermore, four of the 15 Republican representatives who were identified as Hispanic or African-American in the 115th House either retired or lost-re-election to Democratic challengers, including Florida’s Carlos Curbelo and Utah’s Mia Love. Among the 200 Republicans in the 116th House, 90% will be white men.
While two of the 115th House’s LGBT members, Krysten Sinema of Arizona and Jared Polis of Colorado, resigned to pursue higher office, four new Democratic LGBT candidates were elected: Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, Sharice Davids of Kansas, Angie Craig of Minnesota, and Katie Hill of California. There have been no openly LGBT Republicans in the House or Senate since 2006.
The 115th House was one of the oldest in history, but 2018 midterms also ushered in a wave of younger Gen X’ers and Millennials elected to Congress. The average age of an incoming member of Congress is 47, a full decade lower than the average age of the 115th Congress.
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