The midterm voting is complete, but the big picture implications—for LGBTQ rights, abortion, voting rights, election denial—are still coming into focus. One thing was absolutely certain, however. The expected dramatic shift away from the party of a first-term President, a trend that has dominated midterm elections for nearly all of the last half century, did not play out as expected.
While the final composition of Congress is still yet to be decided, the anticipated Red Wave—a decisive gain of seats by Republican candidates as a referendum on the presidency of Joe Biden—did not come to pass. Projection models show the Senate and House almost evenly divided, or within the margins of error, with four Senate seats too close or too early to call, and one seat, Georgia’s, likely going to a December runoff. Dozens of House races are as yet unreconciled; the final count may be called in days or it may take several weeks.
The night was a record setting night for LGBTQ candidates for office, incumbents and challengers.
Maura Healey (pictured above) has won her bid to become Massachusetts’ next governor, becoming the first woman governor and first LGBTQ+ governor of the state, as well as the first out lesbian governor in U.S. history.
Becca Balint (below) has been elected as the first woman and first out LGBTQ person to represent Vermont in Congress, winning in that state’s at-large House seat.
Erick Russell (below), a Black gay man, has been elected Connecticut treasurer, making him the first Black member of the LGBTQ+ community to win a statewide office anywhere in the U.S.
Illinois has elected its first out congressman, Eric Sorensen, to the 17th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.
U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (below), the first gay Native American in Congress and the only Democrat in Kansas’s congressional delegation, has been reelected.
Robert Garcia of California has been elected as the first out gay immigrant in Congress. He’ll take the U.S. House seat in California’s 42nd Congressional District.
Not all LGBTQ candidates have espoused pro-equality positions. Republican George Santos, who is openly gay and a defender of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s “Don’t Say Gay/Trans” law, defeated Democrat Robert Zimmerman, who is also gay, and turned the seat from blue to red. The matchup between two gay candidates was an electoral first in the United States.
Out U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) conceded his district race, ending his bid for a sixth term in Congress.
Among non-LGBTQ candidates, there were historical outcomes as well. Maryland made history Tuesday electing pro-equality Democrat Wes Moore as its first Black governor.
Anti-equality candidates won key races, including the reelection of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who architected sweeping anti-trans policies in his state, and the win of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, perhaps more than anyone else, has been responsible for bringing transphobic rhetoric to the forefront of national politics.
Republican Sarah Huckabee Sanders will be Arkansas’s next governor. Best known as Donald Trump’s second press secretary, Sanders is vocally anti-LGBTQ and a purveyor of disinformation. More on her record can be found here.
On the issues driving LGBTQ and ally voters, reproductive healthcare was among the top priorities. “Voters in at least three states voted to protect abortion access through measures on the ballot in Tuesday’s midterm elections,” according to CBS News, “scoring victories for abortion rights advocates who worked with urgency to preserve the right to end a pregnancy in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade this year.” California, Michigan, and Vermont, added abortion rights to their state constitutions. Ballot measures in Kentucky and Montana sought to limit abortion access, and those final counts have not yet been called.
The midterms saw a mixed outcome for election deniers who echoed former president Donald Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential race was stolen or corrupted, with many statewide candidates being rebuked at the polls, but “dozens of other candidates who denied or questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 vote are projected to win seats in Congress,” according to The Washington Post. “At least 143 Republican election deniers running for the U.S. House had won their races as of Wednesday morning, ticking past the 139 House Republicans who objected to the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.”
High profile Trump-endorsed candidates did not fare well, with losses in gubernatorial and senate races in nine states (possibly more to come).
According to a study by the Williams Institute at UCLA, about 9 million LGBTQ adults were registered to vote in the 2020 election, 22% of them Latino.
Early vote figures point to a record midterm election turnout, and though LGBTQ turnout is growing, and expected to continue to grow, the figures for the midterm turnout are still being gathered. “A study released this year by the Human Rights Campaign and Bowling Green State University found that by 2030 about 1-in-7 voters will be LGBTQ and that turnout is expected to grow to nearly 1-in-5 by 2040,” reports NBC News.