Election 2012: Record Number of Women Will Serve in Congress

New Hampshire Elects Women to All Top Posts

The largest number of women ever will serve in the 113th Congress, according to the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. An all-time high total of 20 women (16D, 4R) will serve in the Senate, and there will be a record 78 women (58D, 20R) in the U.S. House.

The only woman nominated for governor by a major party (Maggie Hassan, D-NH) won her contest. New Hampshire became the first state ever to have an all-female Congressional delegation as well as a woman serving as the state’s chief executive. As of 2013, the Granite State will have a female governor, two female U.S. Senators, and an all-woman (two-seat) U.S. House delegation.

U.S. Senate

A total of 11 women won their Senate races (10D, 1R), including five newcomers and six incumbents who won re-election. Also remaining in the Senate are nine women (6D, 3R) who were not up for election this year.

  • The five newcomers include four women who won open seats: Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); and  one woman who  defeated an incumbent: Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
  • The newcomers join six incumbents who won re-election: Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

In 2012, there were 17 women (12D, 5R) in the Senate. Two Republican women (Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX and Olympia Snowe, R-ME) did not run for re-election.

U.S. House of Representatives

A total of 19 new women (16D, 3R) have been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, joining 59 incumbents who won re-election. The previous record number of women serving in the House was 73, which occurred between 2009 and 2012. When the 113th Congress convenes, it will include the largest class of women newcomers since 1992.

The women serving in the U.S. House as of January 2013 will include:

  • 59 (42D, 17R) re-elected incumbents
  • 4 (4D) women who defeated incumbent members of Congress
  • 15 (12D, 3R) women who won open House seats.

In addition, three non-voting delegates from Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Washington, DC were re-elected.

The new women in the U.S. House are: Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ); Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ); Julia Brownley (D-CA); Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-CA); Elizabeth Esty (D-CT); Lois Frankel (D-FL); Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI); Tammy Duckworth (D-IL); Cheri Bustos (D-IL); Jackie Walorski (R-IN); Susan Brooks (R-IN); Ann Wagner (R-MO); Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH); Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH); Dina Titus (D-NV); Michele Lujan Grisham (D-NM); Grace Meng (D-NY); Joyce Beatty (D-OH); Suzan DelBene (D-WA).

The new House members include six women of color, all Democrats: one African-American (Beatty); three Asian/Pacific Islander Americans (Duckworth, Gabbard, Meng); two Latinas (Lujan Grisham, Negrete McLeod.) There will be a record total of 28 women of color in the House (26D, 2R), including 13 African American women (13D), 9 Latinas (7D, 2R), and 6 Asian/Pacific Islander Americans (6D).

Seven incumbent women (3D, 4R) were defeated: Judy Biggert (R-IL); Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY); Nan Hayworth (R-NY); Kathy Hochul (D-NY); Mary Bono Mack (R-CA); Laura Richardson (D-CA); Betty Sutton (D-OH).

In 2012, there were 73 women in the House (49D, 24R), along with three women serving as non-voting delegates from Washington, DC, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. Seven were not general election candidates for the House: Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) ran for the U.S. Senate; Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) and Sue Myrick (R-NC) retired; and Sandy Adams (R-FL) and Jean Schmidt (R-OH) lost their primaries.

Other Firsts and Notable Achievements

  • Four states have elected women to the U.S. Senate for the first time: Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Wisconsin.  In addition, Deb Fischer (R-NE) is the first Nebraska woman elected to a full Senate term.
  • Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) will be the first openly gay person in the U.S. Senate.
  • Mazie Hirono (D-HI) will be the first Asian/Pacific Islander American woman elected to the U.S. Senate and the first U.S. Senator born in Japan. Hirono is only the second woman of color to serve in the Senate.
  • Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) will be the first Hindu-American in Congress.
  • The new women in the U.S. House include two military veterans: Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Gabbard.
  • South Carolina elected a woman to its State Senate, so there is no longer any state legislative chamber without any women. 


The total number of women governors as of 2013 will be 5 (1D, 4R), a decline from the current six. Governor-elect Maggie Hassan (D-NH) was the only woman with a major party nomination for governor; she will join Republican women holdovers in AZ, NM, OK, and SC.


Daniel De Simone: ddesimone@eagleton.rutgers.edu; 760.703.0948