'Women's Wave': All The Historic Firsts In The U.S. Midterm Elections

It might not have been the "blue wave" of overwhelming support the Democrats were hoping for, but the midterms have been described as both a "women's wave" and a "rainbow wave", and brought with it a number of firsts.

Muslim women, Native American women and gay men won historic races, and more women were elected than ever before.

Here are some of the names you need to know today.

First Muslim women -- Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar
Ilhan Omar (L) and Rashida Tlaib celebrating their historic wins. Photo: Reuters.

The midterm elections saw not one but two Muslim women elected to Congress: Michigan's Rashida Tlaib, and Minnesota's Ilhan Omar.

Tlaib, a Democrat who won her seat with more than 90 percent of the vote, already made history in 2008 by becoming the first Muslim woman to win a seat on the Michigan state legislature.

Omar also made history by becoming the first Somali-American Muslim to be elected to Congress. She arrived in America as a refugee at age 14, fleeing violence in Somalia; almost two decades later, and she's been elected to Congress as part of the Democratic Farmer Labor party, an affiliate of the Democratic party.

First openly gay governor -- Jared Polis
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis reacts after appearing at his midterm election night party in Colorado. Photo: Reuters.

It's close, but Democrat Jared Polis is projected to win his election race for Colorado governor, becoming the first openly gay man to win a gubernatorial election.

He's not technically the first openly gay politician -- a former Governor came out while in office, and the current Oregon governor is openly bisexual -- but he is the first gay man to win a race for governor.

“I think it really gives Colorado an opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of Mike Pence, whose view of America is not as inclusive as where America is today,” he said in a speech earlier this year.

First Native American women -- Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland
Deb Haaland (L) and Sharice Davids celebrate their wins. Photo: Reuters / Getty.

After more than 200 years of U.S. Congress, America finally has female Native American representatives in their federal halls of power. Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland will both enter the House of Representatives, to represent their respective states of Kansas and New Mexico.

Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, is a 57-year-old single mother who will represent New Mexico's 1st district. Davids, 37, won the Kansas 3rd, knocking off Republican incumbent Kevin Yoder.

Davids also identifies as a lesbian, with her election making her the first openly LGBTQ representative from her state.

They are thought to be the first Native American women ever elected to Congress.

“I don’t know if it’s actual legislation as much as it is just really advocating to make sure that Congress recognises the fact that the United States has a trust responsibility to Indian tribes,” Haaland told Vox.

“So at every possible opportunity, I’ll work really hard to make sure tribal leaders have a seat at the table when there’s issues of importance.”

Youngest ever woman elected -- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, age 29, is the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives. Photo: Getty.

Young Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is set to become the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives.

She made headlines earlier this year by knocking off 10-term incumbent Joe Crowley in the Dems' primary process to stand as their candidate for New York's 14th district, which covers parts of the Bronx and Queens.

She is on track for a belting win against her Republican challenger, likely to notch around 80 percent of the vote.

She had run on a platform of "democratic socialism", with a number of progressive policies around healthcare and welfare. She formerly worked with Bernie Sanders and Ted Kennedy, taking inspiration from those left-wing standard-bearers as she spruiked ideas around free college education, universal healthcare, gun control, affordable housing, and a jobs guarantee.

It is to be seen whether she can bring about the implementation of such radical (by American standards) policies on a federal level.

More than 100 women elected to Congress

At least 92 women have been elected to the House, at least 10 women have been elected to the Senate, and nine women will serve as governor.

Both Maine and South Dakota elected their first ever female governors, Janet Mills and Kristi Noem respectively.

Massachusetts' Ayanna Pressley is projected to be the first black woman elected by her state, Connecticut's Jahana Hayes claimed her state's 5th district.

Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are projected to be the first Latina women elected by Texas, Marsha Blackburn will become Tennessee's first female senator, and the newly-elected Pennsylvania congresswomen Susan Wild and Chrissy Houlahan have broken up their state's all-male congressional delegation.

The results are still coming in, so the number of women elected may still rise.

At the time of writing, there are 112 women elected, including 42 women of colour.

Although there are more Democratic women elected (95), there are still a number of Republican women who have won (17).

It's also looking like Republican Young Kim may win California's 65th district to become the first Korean American elected to Congress, but that is yet to be seen.

"This is the women's wave," tweeted the Women's March, "and it's just getting started."

Contact the authors: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au and jbutler@network.com.au