Midterm results—a sign of the times?
You might have thought politics Australian style was bad with its menagerie of weirdos, deviants and single issue time wasters? Well … check this lot out and consider that it all can and will get worse.
It was a night of firsts in the midterm elections as US voters elected two Muslim women, two Native American women, their first openly gay governor and some of the youngest women elected to Congress. A record-breaking number of women ran as candidates for the midterm elections this year, with 237 remaining on House ballots and 23 for the Senate by election night.
US midterm elections: Divisive Trump era ushers record number of women, minorities into House
At least 95 had won House seats as of early Wednesday morning, breaking the previous record of 85.
In the Senate, two newly elected women looked likely to join the nine incumbents, and nine women were projected to win gubernatorial races.
The vote comes nearly two years after women marched on Washington in defiance of the inauguration of Republican President Donald Trump.
Democratic gains in the House were fuelled by women, young and Hispanic voters, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, which found 55 per cent of women said they backed a Democrat for the House this year, compared to 49 per cent in the 2014 midterm congressional election.
The campaigning from both sides of politics was polarising, with the Republicans maintaining an anti-immigration and America-first message, while the Democrats pledged to put an end to divisionary politics.
The divisive race ensured candidates from minority groups and people with historically low representation in politics were popular with voters, who turned out in record numbers.
First Native American congresswomen
Sharice Davids won a district in Kansas for the Democrats, making her one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.
Ms Davids, a mixed martial arts fighter, will also be the first openly LGBT+ person to represent the state of Kansas.
She unseated four-term Republican Kevin Roder, a strong Trump ally.
Fellow Native American Deb Haaland has taken her own place in history, winning her congressional race in New Mexico.
First two Muslim women
In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar became the first Somalian-American and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
Ms Omar, a Democrat who served a single term in the Minnesota Legislature, easily won Tuesday’s election for the Minneapolis-area congressional district being vacated by Keith Ellison.
Ms Omar was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country.
She immigrated to the United States at age 12, teaching herself English by watching American TV and eventually settling with her family in Minneapolis, home to the world’s largest Somali population outside of East Africa.
In Michigan, Muslim Rashida Tlaib from Detroit won the congressional seat long held by Democrat John Conyers, who stepped down amid sexual harassment claims by former staffers.
Ms Tlaib said she put her hand up to make a difference.
“This was my time to run and not sit on the sidelines,” Ms Tlaib said.
“And so, I ran. And so, by chance, I’m also making history today. But more importantly people got something different.”
She said many of the women and minorities didn’t want to be first or make history, but rather wanted change on issues important to them.
Youngest women elected to Congress
At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress.
Ms Ocasio-Cortez said she was still paying off her student loans and until recently had no health insurance.
Earlier this year, she shocked many in New York politics, including herself, when she came out of nowhere to defeat 10-term Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic congressional primary.
The victory made her the national face of young, discontented Democrats — often women and minorities — trying to drag their party to the left.
Abby Finkenauer of Iowa became the second-youngest woman elected to Congress. Also 29, she is a little more than 10 months older than Ms Ocasio-Cortez. She is also still paying off her student loans.
Ms Finkenauer knocked off two-term Republican incumbent Rod Blum in a fiercely contested race.
She has worked for a non-profit that sought to increase the minimum wage and expand family leave.
Republicans, including Mr Trump, nicknamed her “Absent Abby” for missing some votes in the Legislature and painted her as too inexperienced.
First female senator from Tennessee
Republican Marsha Blackburn won a gruelling, expensive contest to become the first female US senator from Tennessee.
The congresswoman defeated Democratic ex-governor Phil Bredesen by closely aligning her bid with Mr Trump. Mr Trump made three visits to the state for her.
First openly gay man elected governor
In Colorado, Jared Polis will be the country’s first openly gay man elected as governor, for the Democrats.
Mr Polis pledged to protect the Colorado way of life for all of his constituents.
“In Colorado, we dream, we dare and we do. Whether it’s embracing big ideas or hiking our amazing mountains, we don’t back down when something is challenging. We see problems as opportunities in our state of Colorado,” he said.
“I pledge to serve all Coloradans no matter your party, no matter where you live, no matter your race, or no matter your gender, we are all in this together.”
First black House member from Massachusetts
Democrat Ayanna Pressley completed her quest to become Massachusetts’ first black woman elected to Congress.
Ms Pressley is also the first African-American to serve on the Boston City Council.
She sailed through the midterms unopposed, two months after unseating 10-term Democrat Michael Capuano in a primary that was a national political stunner.
With no Republican in the race in the heavily Democratic district, her upset victory in the primary had all but assured her the House seat, with only the remote possibility of a write-in campaign to potentially stop her.
“None of us ran to make history,” Ms Pressley told supporters in her acceptance speech on Tuesday.