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Women In Politics Break Records In 2012 Election

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WOMEN IN POLITICS
Two women embrace after voting at East Elementary School on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Long Beach, N.Y., one of several voting locations that were created as a result of Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek) | AP

Following two years of unprecedented legislative attacks on women's reproductive rights, the 2012 election will go down in history as a groundbreaking, glass-ceiling-smashing milestone for women.

The 113th Congress will have at least 20 female senators, the most ever in U.S. history. These women include Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, and Mazie Hirono, who all are the first female Senators from their states. Baldwin is the first openly gay Senator-elect, and Hirono is the first Asian-American woman in the Senate.

The House of Representatives will also hold a record number of women this term, with 77 Congresswomen elected so far and several races still to be called. The current record high for the House is 73 women. Some of the new Congresswomen include Tulsi Gabbard and Tammy Duckworth, women who have military combat experience, and two women under the age of 40 (Gabbard and Grace Meng). Gabbard will also be the first Hindu in Congress.

White men, for the first time ever, will no longer be the majority of the Democratic caucus in the new House, the National Journal reported. Prior to the election, white men made up 53 percent of House Democrats and 86 percent of House Republicans, but some of those Democratic men have been replaced by women and minorities, according to the National Journal.

New Hampshire elected the first ever all-women delegation on Tuesday, choosing Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) and Reps. Carol Shea-Porter (D) and Ann McLane Kuster (D) to join the Senate incumbents, Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Kelly Ayotte (R).

The gender gap in the 2012 election was 18 points -- a significantly wider margin than the 12-point gap that propelled President Obama to victory in the 2008 election.

EMILY's List, a progressive organization that works to recruit and elect Democratic women to Congress, raised a record-breaking $51.2 million this election cycle and quintupled its membership to 2 million. The group attributed its many victories to a backlash against Republican efforts to dismiss women's issues and limit women's reproductive rights.

"This election provided a clear choice between those who want to move forward and those who would turn back the clock to deny women equal pay and access to preventive health services and birth control," the organization said in a statement. "With so much at stake, the powerful EMILY’s List community -- now 2 million members strong -- fought back, and fought hard."

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