Janet Zhu

If you were among those double-checking that your midterm was going to be graded on a curve, you’re most likely one of two things: an orgo student or a Republican.

For those of you who somehow haven’t heard the results: Not only did the GOP win majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, but it won more congressional seats this year than in any other election in nearly a century. While this statistic alone marks 2014 as a historic election year for Republicans, I’m more focused on two patterns that characterize this massive win. First, the fact that conservative female candidates made a prominent and consistently successful appearance in races nationwide and second, that a number of blue states turned red.

The party that is sometimes criticized by opponents as “waging a war on women” has just produced the youngest female ever elected to Congress, 30-year-old Elise Stefanik, who won the election in New York’s 21st District by 22 points.

The representative-elect admits that she “didn’t look like a normal congressional candidate,” but I predict that with her victory she will become the new normal, playing a substantial role in changing the gender and economic demographics of the GOP. Being a woman is the obvious deviation from the stereotypical Republican male demographic, but her economic background only adds to her unique image.

The first in her family to graduate from college (Harvard, no less), Stefanik began her career in the family plywood business and worked her way up to a position in George W. Bush’s White House. Having pulled herself up by the bootstraps in classic Republican fashion, Stefanik appeals to two groups that have previously been associated with Democrats: women and the economically underprivileged.

Also appealing to the female demographic is Mia Love. As the representative-elect for Utah’s 4th Congressional District, Love is the first black Republican woman ever elected to Congress. While it’s no secret that the GOP experiences difficulty in capturing the vote of ethnic minorities, Mia Love’s skin color and party allegiance should not overshadow her impressive qualifications for Congress. For those who claim women can’t have it all, take a look at Love’s time as the mayor of Saratoga Springs, where she was successful in balancing low taxes and a booming population, all while raising three children.

The second highlight of the night for Republicans came with results of senate races. No, this highlight wasn’t catching Senator McConnell give his signature attempt at a smile (which almost always has an endearingly awkward result), but was rather the succession of news alerts announcing that conservatives had won races in a number of seats in states formerly held by Democrats. In North Carolina, Arkansas and Colorado, Republican candidates defeated the liberal incumbent in tight races.

Let’s look closer at Colorado: In both 2008 and 2012, Obama won the Centennial State with a comfortable margin, and before Tuesday, the state was represented by two Democratic senators as well as a governor from the same party. While critics could point out that Republican senator-elect Cory Gardner is the state’s only conservative in a major position of authority, I see the win as a sign of the dwindling popularity of liberals. If Democrats were able to lose a historically blue, incumbent seat despite massive campaign efforts from party stars like Hillary Clinton, there should be no doubt that constituent allegiance to the Democratic Party is beginning to waver, coincidentally just in time for 2016.

This brings me to my final point: What does Tuesday mean for Hillary’s inevitable 2016 run? While there is no doubt that Clinton has become the face of the Democratic Party, her first major hurdle on the road to the White House has called her popularity into question. A rigorous period of campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates has ended with an impressive list of defeats: Mark Udall, Charlie Crist, Martha Coakley, Kay Hagan and Alison Lundergan Grimes, just to name a few. If the influence of Clinton wasn’t able to sway midterms, perhaps the nation isn’t as “ready for Hillary” as Democrats had thought.

As this consequential election cycle comes to a close, Mia Love represents the GOP best in saying, “Now, the real work begins.”

Ellie Valencia is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service. She is the recruitment director of the D.C. Federation of College Republicans.


  1. “The party that is sometimes criticized by opponents as “waging a war on women” has just produced the youngest female ever elected to Congress, 30-year-old Elise Stefanik, who won the election in New York’s 21st District by 22 points.”

    Does the author understand what “war on women” means? Visibility of women within an ideology that systematically contributes to their oppression does not undermine, question, or negate the fact that the GOP wages a war on women. That’s just successful brainwashing. Sorry, to see that you’re also a victim, Ellie.

  2. So bitter, mo schmo! Give your convoluted gender ideology a rest.

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