A record number of women are running for office in 2012, with 18 women vying for seats in the Senate and 141 as members of the House of Representatives. Women stand to elect the largest group of candidates to Congress since 1992, according to Susan Carroll, senior scholar at the Rutgers Center for Women in Politics.
Key Senate races to watch include Linda McMahon (R) in New York, Tammy Baldwin (D) in Wisconsin, and Elizabeth Warren (D) in Massachussetts. With over 140 women running for seats in the House of Representatives, the sheer volume of races is difficult to keep track of, but Mia Love (R) in Utah and Tammy Duckworth (D) in Illinois are touchstone races.
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2:57 PM EDT Great comment from female voter in Virginia about long lines at the polls: "People waited much longer for an iPhone -- certainly we can spare the time to exercise the right so many men and women died for."
3:06 PM EDT Facebook is keeping track of users who click on the "I'm a voter" link at the top of their news feed. So far over 4.1 million people have clicked on it, and 2/3 are women.
6:32 PM EDT Exit polls say only a quarter of people found Hurricane Sandy to be important in their voting decisions . . .
10:00 PM EDT Elizabeth Warren is projected to become the first woman from Massachussetts to win a Senate seat, defeating Scott Brown in the hotly contested race.
10:30 PM EDT East coast and Midwest winners include Maryland 4th District, Donna Edwards (D) - incumbent, with 85% of the vote. Indiana 5th District - Susan Brooks (R) has been elected as a first-time member of Congress.
10:40 PM EDT In Nebraska, Deb Fischer (R) has defeated former Governor and Senator aka perma-politician Bob Kerrey for the Nebraska Senate.
10:49 PM EDT Women's rights advocates will be pleased to learn that Claire McCaskill (D) is projected to defeat Todd Akin (R) to retain her Senate seat in Missouri.
11:05 PM EDT Incumbent female members of the House of Representatives in Florida who are projected to be winners include Democrats Corrine Brown, Kathy Castor, Frederica Wilson, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and incumbent Republican woman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
11:09 PM EDT California results have begun to come in after the polls closing at 8:00 PM Pacific time. Roseanne Barr has about 1,000 votes so far in the early Northern California counties reporting.
11:20 PM EDT Tommy Thompson (R) former WI governor and Tammy Baldwin (D) are still in a close battle in Wisconsin.
11:48 PM EDT Incumbents Martha Roby (R) and Terri Sewell (D) in Alabama have won re-election in the 2nd and 7th House Districts.
12:00 PM EDT
In California, women are involved in several close contests:
With one third to one half of precincts reporting, veteran Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (R) has a close contest in the 36th District with a little more than 1,000 votes in the lead against strong new challenger Raul Ruiz (D). Incumbent Lois Capps in the 24th District is about 300 votes behind Abel Maldonado (R), a long-time State Assembly and Senate member. Donna Lowe (R) is only 400 votes behind Chris Holden (D) in the 41st State Assembly District, and Melissa Melendez, only 800 votes behind Phil Paule in the 67th Assembly District. Both Melendez and Paule are Republicans.
12:07 AM EDT In Illinois, popular candidate Tammy Duckworth has won by 55% in her race for the 8th Congressional District.
12:11 AM EDT In Indiana, Sue Ellspermann is winning as Lt. Governor, and Susan Brooks has won the 5th Congressional District.
12:24 AM EDT Mia Love, Republican candidate in Utah's 4th Congressional District, is running behind opponent Jim Matheson with 47% to 51% of the vote - a lot of precincts have not yet reported.
12:30 AM EDT - A lot of the new female challengers for House of Representatives so far this year have not won their elections, both Democrat and Republican. Not good news for new women in leadership so far, because any incumbent, male or female, is very likely to win given today's redistricting policies and rules.
1:26 AM EDT - Lois Capps (D) appears set to defeat Abel Maldonado (R) in the 24th Congressional District. Lois Capps could be the worst candidate ever and still 100 times better than the dreadful Abel Maldonado.