The results of the midterms revealed some undeniably progressive victories.
Democrats won control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years, while Republicans remained in control of the Senate. Rising democratic stars Beto O’Rourke and Andrew Gillum lost their respective races in Texas and Florida, but raised a surprising level of support in traditionally conservative states.
Stacey Abrams is refusing to concede her historic bid for governor of Georgia amid evidence of widespread voter suppression.
Nevadans approved automatic voter registration. Maryland voters approved same-day registration. Recreational marijuana was legalized in Michigan and an amendment was passed to restore the voting rights of more than one million Floridians who are former felons, which some believe be a gamechanger for the 2020 presidential election.
In the aftermath of the midterm elections, seven influential women share their reactions:
“Overall, I think we got lots of good news. The Democrats retook Congress and the brave underdog campaigns of these new jacks inspired a nation to vote in record turnouts,” says Alexander, who helped rally support for Andrew Gillum’s run for governor in Florida and Stacey Abrams’s run for governor in Georgia.
The actress best known for her roles on “The Cosby Show,” “Living Single” and most recently “Get Out” is no stranger to the campaign trail. While serving as a national surrogate for Hillary Clinton, she met icons including Maya Angelou and Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.). She says in that process, she learned the most powerful women often receive less support than they deserve. “I work hardest and show up for them,” says Alexander.
Alexander remains optimistic and doesn’t believe the public should lose faith in promising new politicians.
“Ready or not the new majority is here. Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, Beto O’Rourke, Ayanna Pressley and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are the future. They are disrupters and fighters,” says Alexander.
“I feel hopeful,” says Winstead.
The comedian and co-creator of “The Daily Show,” considers the show, popular for its smart take on politics, a watchdog. “It is always important to call out hypocrisy on the powerful. That means politicians, corporations and even the media itself — especially when the media drops the ball on holding the powerful accountable.”
Her current project, Lady Parts Justice League, fights for reproductive rights by working to destigmatize abortion and supporting staff at abortion clinics. During the midterms, Winstead was particularly disturbed by an amendment on the ballot in Alabama giving a fetus the same rights as a person and a ballot initiative in West Virginia challenging women’s rights to a legal abortion.
“Abortion is being strategically fought in local elections and these extreme measures are placed on the ballot during midterms when turnout is low. Just shows how necessary the work of LPJL is, and how important every election is.”
“History was made and there were great victories across the board,” says Robinson.
A proud bisexual Afro-Latina, Robinson built a business model around calling out the oppression of members of marginalized communities. Her custom T-shirt line, Green Box Shop, took off when it caught the attention of celebs who wanted to sport the socially conscious messages, like “dismantle white racism.”
As a Floridian, the passing of a proposition allowing former felons in the state to vote was a win for her. “Mass incarceration is a form of voter suppression and it’s nice to see it finally being addressed and undone in some way,” says Robinson.
“I had nothing to lose by voting,” says Robinson. “[But] we need organizing, civil disobedience and radical opposition to fascism — not simply voting into a broken system that will always value money over human lives and calling it a day.”
“I feel hopeful that we still have — despite voter suppression — a working democracy,” says Kirkman of Democrats winning the House. “I took it as a personal victory and really, it isn’t. But I don’t follow sports, so this is my playoffs.”
Kirkman performs stand-up comedy and is a writer for the Emmy-winning Amazon series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
“When Trump first got elected, I felt that I should quit comedy and do something more important,” says Kirkman. “But I realized, I can provide some relief for people who are doing the real work and I can put [the money I am paid] back into the system to aid the people who are doing important work.”
After 30 years of political involvement, Kirkman says she is remaining focused on intersectional women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and freedom of the press.
“There were a lot of huge wins for voting rights. I am thrilled by the measures on the ballot to make voting more accessible in Michigan and Florida,” says Calvin. “America has shown that they care about voting rights across the country, now we just get back to work.”
Spread The Vote is a nonpartisan nonprofit that helps eligible voters obtain government issued identification, which becomes critical in states with restrictive voter ID laws. Volunteers from 30 national chapters work to provide assistance to those who need it most. During elections this includes providing transportation to the polls and offering voters information about local candidates.
“If the government is not going to make sure every American can vote, then it’s up to independent organizations to do it,” says Calvin. “We have to ensure every eligible voter has the tools, resources and education that they need to vote.”
“The midterm elections were a temperature check, and in many ways a test for 2020. Voter suppression was a major hurdle and a signal that more work must be done,” says Carruthers. “We don’t have a robust democracy in this country, we have one that everyday people are fighting to create.”
A self described black radical feminist, Carruthers headed into the midterm elections with managed expectations. ”I wanted this election to shift the political terrain — and it did,” says Carruthers.
As for the future, Carruthers hopes voters channel their energy into community organizing. “I am inspired by Southern organizers who are showing us what’s possible. They are changing the South and this entire country — and after last night it will never be the same.”
“This is a hopeful day for young voters who early voted at record numbers and sent strong signals of increased participation in the midterm elections,” says DeWitt who has witnessed a swell of youth activism in the wake of the March for Our Lives Movement.
DeWitt believes we have a responsibility to engage young people between major election cycles and give them the training they need to organize and build political power. Rock The Vote works to alert young voters about political issues so they can stay informed. “Our democracy is vulnerable to vile acts of voter suppression by those who abuse their positions of power," she says.
Despite voter ID setbacks, DeWitt was encouraged to see several pro-voting ballot measures pass across the country.