Keeping Score: Election Milestones You May Have Missed

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in this biweekly roundup.

More Americans voted this year than in any past election—resulting in countless firsts for people of color, LGBTQ+ candidates and women.
Clockwise from left: Cori Bush; Kamala Harris; Deb Haaland; Yvette Herrell; Teresa Leger Fernandez; Ritchie Torres; Mondaire Jones; Taylor Small; Sarah McBride.

While the history-making presidential race has captivated the attention of those both at home and abroad, a significant number of down-ballot victories also mark historic milestones in U.S. politics.

Several states continue to count incoming votes, due largely to the record number of mail-in ballots this year. But several takeaways are already abundantly clear: More Americans voted this year than in any past election—resulting in countless firsts for people of color, LGBTQ+ candidates and women.

Historic Wins for Women Candidates

+ California Senator Kamala Harris (D) was elected as the next vice president, becoming the first woman and person of color to fill the role. She acknowledged the momentous nature of her win in a victory speech on Nov. 7.

+ The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors now consists of only women, as state Senator Holly Mitchell won the race in District 2. Los Angeles County—with a population of over 10 million—controls a $35 billion budget, and has a GDP higher all but nine U.S. states. The Los Angeles Times calls the L.A. Board of Supervisors “the most powerful local governmental body in the country.”

+ Republican women are achieving high levels of success in House races, according to data from the Center for American Women and Politics. Thirteen non-incumbents have won seats in the House, in contrast with the 2018 midterms, when only one new Republican woman, West Virginia’s Carol Miller, won.

+ Senator-elect Cynthia Lummis (R) is the first woman to represent the state of Wyoming in the U.S. Senate. She previously served in the House of Representatives, as as state treasurer and legislator.

+ Marie Newman (D) will be the first woman to represent Illinois’s 3rd District, beating Mike Fricilone (R) by six percent. In the Democratic primaries, she prevailed over the district’s 15-year incumbent Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D). (Read the Ms. profile of Newman from March.)

More Americans voted this year than in any past election—resulting in countless firsts for people of color, LGBTQ+ candidates and women.
Gloria Steinem (right) attends an event for Marie Newman, Democratic candidate for Illinois 3rd congressional district, in Chicago in February 2018. (NARAL Pro-Choice America / Creative Commons)

+ Two Democratic women in North Carolina flipped their historically red districts on Election Day. Deborah Ross, a civil rights lawyer, took the lead in District 2, while Kathy Manning flipped North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District, which Trump won by a sizable margin in 2016.

+ San Diego elected 31-year-old Sara Jacobs (D) to represent the 53rd District, making her the youngest representative-elect in California’s history.

+ Colorado elected their first Muslim state legislator, with Iman Jodeh (D) set to represent District 41 in the state House of Representatives. Jodeh is a community activist and daughter of Palestinian immigrants. 

Victories for Women of Color

+ New Mexico, which is represented by three members of the House, became the first state to have a delegation composed entirely of women of color. Representative-elects Teresa Leger Fernandez (D), Yvette Herrell (R) and incumbent Deb Haaland (D) will serve in the 117th Congress, with the two latter candidates giving a voice to Native American residents of New Mexico.

More Americans voted this year than in any past election—resulting in countless firsts for people of color, LGBTQ+ candidates and women.
Left to right: Deb Haaland (@IndianCountry / Twitter); Yvette Herrell (Wikipedia); and Teresa Leger Fernandez (@BOLDDems / Twitter).

+ Washington state’s Marilyn Strickland (D) will represent District 10 in the House of Representatives, becoming the first Black woman from the state to do so. 

+ Nikema Williams (D), the first Black woman to serve as chair of the Georgia Democratic Party, was elected to fill late Rep. John Lewis’s seat in the House. Williams, who won 83.9 percent of the vote, will represent the state’s 5th District.

+ Cori Bush (D), a Black Lives Matter activist and winner of Missouri District 1, will be the first Black woman to represent the state in Congress. 

2020 Sees Unprecedented National Voter Turnout

+ This year’s presidential candidates—Joe Biden and Donald Trump—set the records for first and second highest number of votes received in a presidential election, respectively (and counting).

+ Over half of all states achieved higher voter turnout than in 2016, with nearly 20 percent more voters casting ballots in Hawaii.

+ In Georgia, Stacey Abrams’s nonprofit Fair Fight, aimed at combatting voter suppression, registered an estimated 800,000 new voters since 2018. As such, this year, the state saw particularly high voter turnout from young voters and voters of color. Abrams told NPR on November 2:

“45 percent of those new voters are under the age of 30. 49 percent are people of color. And all 800,000 came on the rolls after November ’18, which means these are voters who weren’t eligible to vote for me but are eligible to participate in this upcoming election.”

For reference, during her 2018 gubernatorial run against then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Abrams lost by just shy of 55,000 votes. Since the state swung to Bill Clinton (a southern candidate) in 1992, Georgia hasn’t been within reach for Democrats, but is now a contested battleground: As of Tuesday morning, Biden led Trump in the state by over 12,000 votes.

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LGBTQ+ Representation Prevails in Local Races

+ Sarah McBride (D-Del.) was elected as the country’s first openly transgender state senator. A former Human Rights Campaign spokesperson, McBride beat her Republican challenger Steve Washington by a wide margin of 10,000 votes, ending with over 73 percent of the unofficial tally. She is the highest-ranking openly transgender official in American history.

+ Six openly transgender state House representatives—all Democrats—won elections across the country, meaning the number of transgender state legislators will nearly double come 2021.

+ Newly-elected Oklahoma state house representative Mauree Turner (D) is the first nonbinary and first Muslim member of the state legislature. Turner uses she/they pronouns, and is also the first Black representative of District 88.

+ Mondaire Jones (D) and Ritchie Torres (D), representing New York Districts 17 and 15 respectively, will be the first openly gay Black members of Congress.

+ Tennessee’s Torrey Harris (D) and Eddie Mannis (R) are the first openly LGBTQ+ members to be elected to the state’s general assembly.

+ Vermont elected its first openly transgender state legislator, Taylor Small (D), who will represent the Chittenden 6-7 District at just 26 years old.

Low Points in the Election Results

+ Ignoring calls to concede, President Trump and his campaign instead aim to call into question the results of the election—without any evidence.

“You can’t go to court just because you don’t like the vote totals,” Ohio State election law professor Ned Foley said on MSNBC over the weekend. “You have to have a legal claim, and you have to have evidence to back it up. And that’s just not there.”

+ QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) won a seat in the U.S. House. Her success risks further legitimizing the theory, which suggests that Democrats are part of a satanist pedophilia ring seeking to control the world. 

+ Although many celebrated the election of America’s youngest Congress member, 25-year-old Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) followed up his projected win with a divisive tweet, illustrating an increase in partisan contempt:

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Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a junior at Tufts University studying sociology and community health. She is a Ms. contributing writer, and was formerly an editorial fellow, research fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.