Big gains for women in 2012
November 7th, 2012
02:39 AM ET
10 years ago

Big gains for women in 2012

Washington (CNN) – In some quarters, Election Day 2012 turned into ladies night.

With CNN projecting wins for Rep. Tammy Baldwin in the Wisconsin Senate race and Heidi Heitkamp in the North Dakota race, 20 women now hold seats in that chamber. Furthermore, New Hampshire now has an all female congressional delegation and a newly-elected female governor, former state Sen. Maggie Hassan.

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Democrat Elizabeth Warren beat incumbent Republican Scott Brown in the high profile Massachusetts Senate race.

There was at least one notable loss. Republican Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love lost to Democrat Rep. Jim Matheson in Utah's 4th Congressional District race.

Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill defeated Republican challenger, U.S. Representative Todd Akin-whose comments about a woman's body preventing pregnancy after "legitimate rape" helped upend the race and ultimately may have helped cost him the election.

Hawaii also elected its first female senator when Democratic Rep. Mazie Hirono won, CNN projects.

Democratic women's groups applauded the wins.

"It's been an incredible night we're seeing a record number of Democratic women elected to office," said Jess McIntosh, a spokeswoman with Emily's list, an organization which works to help pro-choice, Democratic women get elected to office. "It says voters saw a clear contrast between the parties …there was an absolute rejection of extremist Republican (proposals)."

But Democrats weren't the only beneficiaries of efforts to crack the glass ceiling in politics. Over in Nebraska, Republican Deb Fischer won the seat currently held by retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson.

The gains by female candidates are especially historic in a year in which rhetoric about the so-called "war on women" drew into sharp relief ideological differences on such issues as abortion and contraception.

A Gallup Survey conducted in mid October found that women in the swing states differed greatly from men when asked to name the most important issues facing their gender in the 2012 election.

"A plurality of female registered voters offered abortion (39%) as the most important issue for women, followed by jobs, healthcare, the economy, and equal rights," the Gallup survey found. "In contrast, men see jobs (38%) and the economy (37%) as the two most important issues facing men."

Likewise, 60% of female registered voters in 12 key states, rated government policies on birth control as an extremely/very important issue influencing their vote, versus 39% of registered male voters.

And there are some indications that social issues directly impacting women might have helped sway votes.

Tuesday's early exit polls showed 51% of Missouri voters say they believe abortion should be legal all or most of the time. Of those voters, exit polls showed 76% supporting McCaskill while 19% voted for Akin.

Forty-seven percent of Missouri's voters said abortion should be illegal. Exit polls showed Akin netted 67% of this group's votes while 27% of people who think abortion should be illegal supported McCaskill.

Starting in January 2013, the following women will be serving as U.S. senators:

Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), 1987-

Dianne Feinstein (D-California), 1992-

Barbara Boxer (D-California), 1993-

Patty Murray (D-Washington), 1993-

Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), 1997-

Susan Collins (R-Maine), 1997-

Deborah Stabenow (D-Michigan), 2001-

Maria E. Cantwell (D-Washington), 2001-

Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), 2002-

Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri), 2007-

Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), 2007-

Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), 2009-

Kay R. Hagan (D-North Carolina), 2009-

Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-New York), 2009-

Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), 2011-

Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), 2013-

Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), 2013-

Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), 2013-

Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), 2013-

Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), 2013

CNN's Joe Von Kanel contributed.

Reid urges cooperation as Democrats expand Senate control

Filed under: 2012 • Senate
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. don

    Awesome! We need more women in politics.

    November 7, 2012 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  2. 2020

    Bravo, well done!!!

    November 7, 2012 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
  3. Angel

    The late Senator Ted Kennedy would be proud.

    November 7, 2012 02:55 am at 2:55 am |
  4. Name; fredy chomette

    Congratulation Obama's victory!.

    November 7, 2012 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  5. genold

    The people have spoken and they have repudiated Republican extremism.

    November 7, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |