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A Look At How Women Fared

Female candidates across the country saw mixed results in the midterm.

There were ten females running for governor this year. This number ties the records set in 2002 and 2006 for women gubernatorial candidates. Females net three governorships across the country – bringing the total to nine – with the victories of Susana Martinez (R-NM), Mary Fallin (R-OK), and Nikki Haley (R-SC). All are Republican “mama grizzlies” backed by Sarah Palin. Gov. Jan Brewer (R) also won her re-election campaign in Arizona. All female democratic gubernatorial candidates lost their campaign bids this cycle.

A record number of women were also on the ballot for Senate. 15 ran and at least four were successful. The fates of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) are still unknown as they are deadlocked with their opponents. So far, three incumbent senators out of the six up for re-election won: Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). One new face, Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), will be making her way to Washington as she won her campaign bid in New Hampshire. It’s still unknown if women will retain 17 seats in the Senate depending on the outcomes of the races in Alaska and Washington.

Whether females will gain seats in the House will become known only after the final four race results are decided. Currently there are 73 Congresswomen. 138 females were on the general election ballot, including 69 incumbents. What’s clear thus far for the House is the national trend against Democrats holds – Republican women are gaining seats while their Democratic counterparts are losing seats.

The success of Martinez, Fallin, and Haley also mark major milestones for New Mexico, Oklahoma, and South Carolina respectively. These women became the first female governors of their state. Martinez is now the first Latina governor in the nation and she and Haley also are the first two women of color to hold gubernatorial positions. Meg Whitman (R-CA), though she lost her bid for governor of California to Jerry Brown (D-CA), self funded more her campaign than any candidate in history – donating $160 million of personal funds – an impressive feat for females.

There is one big loss for women that is very apparent: there will no longer be a female speaker of the house when Congress begins in 2011.