clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

17 interesting facts about the midterms, and 3 uninteresting ones

Andrew Prokop is a senior politics correspondent at Vox, covering the White House, elections, and political scandals and investigations. He’s worked at Vox since the site’s launch in 2014, and before that, he worked as a research assistant at the New Yorker’s Washington, DC, bureau.

This year's midterm elections were historic for several reasons. The Republican Party posted strong gains across the board, and many of their victorious candidates help make clear that the GOP isn't just the party of white males. Meanwhile, liberals had a lot to celebrate with how ballot initiatives turned out, and the electorate was distinct in a few noteworthy ways.

A historic Republican wave

Mitch McConnell thumbs up

(Win McNamee / Getty)

  • There will be Republican governors in at least 31 states.
  • Democrats will have unified control of just 7 state governments, the lowest number since 1860.
  • If Republicans win just 4 of the remaining 14 uncalled House seats, they'll have their widest majority in the chamber since the presidency of Herbert Hoover.
  • With the defeat of John Barrow of Georgia, there are no longer any white Democrats from the Deep South in the House.
  • The average Senate poll conducted in the campaign's last three weeks was skewed against Republicans by 4 points, according to FiveThirtyEight's analysis.
  • Obama has lost more House seats during his tenure than any president since Harry Truman.

Demographic firsts

Tim Scott

Senator Tim Scott (R-SC). (Andrew Burton / Getty)

  • Tim Scott of South Carolina became the first directly elected black Southern senator in US history, and Mia Love of Utah became the first black female Republican ever elected to Congress.
  • For the first time ever, there will be 100 women in Congress.
  • 30-year old Elise Stefanik, elected to a US House seat in New York, will become the youngest woman ever to serve in Congress.
  • Greg Abbott of Texas will become the first US governor in a wheelchair since the 1980s.
  • Saira Blair of West Virginia, who's only 18 years old, will become the youngest state legislator in the US.

Ballot initiative outcomes

marijuana plant

A marijuana plant. (Shutterstock)

  • Minimum wage increases have been on state ballots 15 times since 2002. They've passed every time.
  • Alaska became the first red state, and the fourth state overall, to vote to legalize recreational marijuana. (Earlier in the night, Oregon became the third. Washington DC, though not a state, joined them.)
  • Ballot initiatives to require labeling of foods with genetically modified organisms failed easily in Colorado, and narrowly in Oregon.
  • Abortion opponents have lost five out of five votes on "personhood" initiatives.

Who turned out?

Elderly voters

(Lisa F. Young / Shutterstock)

  • The all-mail voting states of Oregon and Colorado appear to be two of the only states where voter turnout will exceed 50 percent, according to Daily Kos Elections contributor Taniel.  This higher turnout didn't save Democrat Mark Udall in Colorado, but it may have saved the state's Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper.
  • 18,000 people called in to a voting rights hotline with complaints on Election Day.
  • According to exit polls, voters aged 65 or older made up 23 percent of the electorate — the highest in at least a decade.
  • The electorate wasn't unusually tilted towards conservatives or Republicans.
  • Latinos made up about 8 percent of the electorate, which is consistent with recent midterms.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Democrats will have control of just 7 state legislatures. In fact, they will have unified control of 7 state governments (counting governorships).

Sign up for the newsletter Today, Explained

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.