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Democrats won women’s vote for Congress by the largest margin seen in midterm exit polls

More women were elected in this year's election than any point in U.S. history. But how close is Congress to parity? (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post, Photo: Mikayla Whitmore/The Washington Post)

Women made history in the 2018 midterm elections.

Democrats won women’s vote for Congress by 19 points, with 59 percent voting Democrat and 40 percent voting Republican — the largest margin seen in midterm exit polls, according to data from CNN.

The last time women voted for Democrats anywhere near that margin was more than 30 years ago. In 1982, 58 percent of women voted for Democrats and 41 percent voted for Republicans.

Young women made their voices heard, as well, with two-thirds of voters younger than 30 voting for Democrats for Congress, compared with 32 percent who voted for Republicans, according to exit polls.

“Voters under the age of 30, relative to their ’14 turnout, are outperforming every other group,” Tom Bonier, a Democratic strategist for the data firm TargetSmart, told the Hill. “It’s not just like a presidential year surge where you’re getting younger voters who only vote in presidentials coming out in a midterm. A lot of these young people are voting in their first election period.”

Midterm elections: Democrats flip House as GOP expands Senate majority

This year’s swing was, in large part, because of independent women, who voted for Democratic candidates for the House, 56 percent to 39 percent, as well as white women, who have started voting differently in recent years, according to CNN’s exit poll data. The data showed that this year, white women split their vote between Democratic and Republican candidates for the House, but they preferred Republican candidates in 2010 and 2014.

The midterm elections were notable not only for female voters but also for women’s winning power.

Democrats lost seats in the Senate. But about two dozen House seats flipped for Democrats in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas, among other states — and some of them went to women.

The Associated Press reported that at least 99 women were vying for seats in the House. In May, 107 women were serving in Congress — 84 of them were in the House, according to Rutgers.

Tuesday’s elections ushered in “one of the most diverse groups of politicians in American history,” according to The Washington Post’s Kayla Epstein and Eugene Scott.

The Post reported:

On the Democratic side, these races were viewed not only as a referendum on President Trump, but also, in many cases, on his version of identity politics, which in its final days played to the fears of his base, a group that is largely white, male and Christian. Many female Democratic House candidates who prevailed on Election Day ran in opposition to Trump or his policies. Several were first-time candidates. Republican women like Kristi L. Noem and Marsha Blackburn, on the other hand, made history but were reluctant to mention their gender on the campaign trail, preferring to focus on issues.
Though prominent figures like Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor of Florida, failed to win their potentially historic elections, many candidates around the country became the first person of their gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation to be elected to their positions in their states, or in some cases, in the country.

Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, both Democrats, are the first Muslim women to win seats in Congress.

Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Native American women to serve in Congress, and Davids is also the first lesbian congresswoman from Kansas, according to CBS News.

And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat, is now the youngest woman elected to Congress. She is 29.

“Together, we made history!” Haaland said on Twitter.

Read more:

Graphic: Where seats flipped in the House elections

The Fix: Winners and losers from election night 2018

Midterm elections: Democrats flip House as GOP expands Senate majority