Republican women delivered critical victories to their party in the election, signaling the success of the party’s efforts to recruit and elect a more diverse slate of candidates to counter Democrats’ huge advantage in adding women to their ranks in Congress.
In battlegrounds across the country, conservative women scored upsets for House Republicans, with Ashley Hinson, a former state legislator and television reporter ousting Representative Abby Finkenauer of Iowa; Nancy Mace, the first woman to graduate from the Citadel, defeating Representative Joe Cunningham of South Carolina; and Yvette Herrell, a former state legislator, flipping Representative Xochitl Torres Small’s New Mexico seat.
Those wins came as Republicans fought to protect women incumbents in the Senate, where Joni Ernst of Iowa and Susan Collins of Maine prevailed in their competitive races and Kelly Loeffler advanced to a runoff in Georgia. By Wednesday morning, Democrats had only vanquished one Republican woman in the Senate, Martha McSally of Arizona, who had been expected to lose.
In past cycles, House Republicans had failed to recruit and elect women candidates. In 2018, as Democrats wrested control of the House with a diverse class of contenders, just one new Republican woman was elected to the chamber. That set off a scramble by party leaders to steal a page from the Democratic recruiting playbook, eschewing the kind of candidates they had previously turned to — white, male, often veterans of politics — in favor of political newcomers with diverse backgrounds.
Those efforts appeared to be paying off as Republicans clawed back a number of seats they had lost in 2018, and partial returns showed women leading Democratic incumbents in other competitive districts, like in Staten Island, where Representative Max Rose of New York was fighting to hold of Nicole Malliotakis.
“We flipped seats primarily with women and minority candidates,” Parker Hamilton Poling, the executive director of House Republicans’ campaign arm wrote on Twitter early Wednesday. “I’d call that a pretty good night.”