Native American and Muslim women will join Congress for the first time alongside the youngest elected woman. The US has also voted in its first openly gay governor as minorities and marginalised groups increase their voices on Capitol Hill after the midterms.
- Ms Ocasio-Cortez was the face of young, discontented Democrats trying to shove their party left
- Sharice Davids is one of the first Native American women and the first openly LGBTQI person elected to Congress
- Republican Marsha Blackburn has won a gruelling, expensive contest to become the first female US senator from Tennessee
The campaigning from both sides of politics was polarising, with the Republicans maintaining an anti-immigration and America-first message, while the Democrats pledged to put an end to divisionary politics.
The divisive race ensured candidates from minority groups and people with historically low representation in politics were popular with voters.
At 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman elected to Congress. Ms Ocasio-Cortez has said she is still paying off her student loans and until recently had no health insurance.
Earlier this year, she shocked many in New York politics, including herself, when she came out of nowhere to defeat 10-term Joe Crowley in New York’s Democratic congressional primary.
The victory made her the national face of young, discontented Democrats — often women and minorities — trying to drag their party to the left.
Democrats of note who were midterm election winners
Sharice Davids was projected to win a district in Kansas for the Democrats, which would make her one of the first Native American women elected to Congress.
Ms Davids, a mixed martial arts fighter, will also be the first openly LGBTQI person to represent the state of Kansas.
She unseated four-term Republican Kevin Roder, a strong Trump ally.
If fellow Native American Deb Haaland wins her congressional race in New Mexico, she will also take her place in history.
In Minnesota, Ilhan Omar became the first Somali and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
Democrat Ilhan Omar easily won her Minneapolis-area congressional district. (AP: Hannah Foslien)
Ms Omar, a Democrat who served a single term in the Minnesota Legislature, easily won Tuesday’s election for the Minneapolis-area congressional district being vacated by Keith Ellison.
Ms Omar was born in Somalia but spent much of her childhood in a Kenyan refugee camp as civil war tore apart her home country. She immigrated to the United States at age 12, teaching herself English by watching American TV and eventually settling with her family in Minneapolis, home to the world’s largest Somali population outside of East Africa.
Rashida Tlaib said candidates didn’t ant to be first, they just wanted change. (Reuters: Rebecca Cook)
In Michigan, Muslim Rashida Tlaib from Detroit won the congressional seat long held by Democratic John Conyers, who stepped down amid sexual harassment claims by former staffers.
Ms Tlaib said she put her hand up to make a difference.
“This was my time to run and not sit on the sidelines,” Ms Tlaib said.
“And so, I ran. And so, by chance, I’m also making history today. But more importantly people got something different.”
She said many of the women and minorities didn’t want to be first or make history, but rather wanted change on issues important to them.
“Ayanna Pressley was also fed up. Ilhan Omar. So many of us, we’re all mums,” she said.
“We’re kind of people that just feel like it’s really important that we are focused on the gun crisis, focused on health care, focused on all those things that seem to be a divide within the United States Congress right now.”
US Democratic Congressional candidate Deb Haaland (right) could be one of two Native American women in the Congress. (Reuters: Brian Snyder)
In Florida, 77-year-old Democrat Donna Shalala is starting a career in the US House of Representatives after winning a district that has long been in Republican hands.
Ms Shalala has sought to turn her age into a positive by stressing her experience with this slogan: Ready on Day One. Ms Shalala served as Bill Clinton’s secretary of Health and Human Services for his entire presidency and has made health care a centrepiece of her agenda.
Democrat Ayanna Pressley completed her quest to become Massachusetts’ first black woman elected to Congress.
Democratic Congressional candidate Ayanna Pressley wins unopposed after unseating 10-term Michael Capuano two months ago. (Reuters: Brian Snyder)
Ms Pressley is also the first African-American to serve on the Boston City Council. She sailed through the midterms unopposed, two months after unseating 10-term Democrat Michael Capuano in a primary that was a national political stunner.
With no Republican in the race in the heavily Democratic district, her upset victory in the primary had all but assured her the House seat, with only the remote possibility of a write-in campaign to potentially stop her.
Republicans of note in the midterm elections
Republican Marsha Blackburn won a gruelling, expensive contest to become the first female US senator from Tennessee.
The congresswoman defeated Democratic ex-governor Phil Bredesen by closely aligning her bid with President Donald Trump. The President made three visits to the state for her.
Republican businessman Mike Braun ousted Senator Joe Donnelly, Indiana’s lone statewide elected Democrat.
Both candidates portrayed themselves as fans of Mr Trump during the campaign.
US President Donald Trump visited Republican Marsha Blackburn three times during the campaign. (Reuters: Jonathan East)
The GOP has dreamed of this victory since Mr Donnelly unexpectedly beat Republican nominee Richard Mourdock in 2012, after Mr Mourdock made incendiary comments about abortion and rape.
However, few would have predicted Mr Braun’s win when he entered the race last year. The multimillionaire auto-parts magnate was a little-known state representative when he launched his bid.
One who missed out was controversial Kentucky clerk Kim Davis who went to jail in 2015 for refusing to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples.
Republican senate candidate Mike Braun has ousted Senator Joe Donnelly in Indiana. (Reuters: Chris Bergin)
The Republican incumbent lost her bid for a second term, going down to Democrat Elwood Caudill Jr. for clerk of Rowan County in north-eastern Kentucky.
Ms Davis went from obscure local official to a national figure when she stopped issuing marriage licences days after the US Supreme Court ruled the US constitution guaranteed same-sex couples the right to marry.
Ms Davis cited her religious beliefs for her decision, saying she was acting under “God’s authority”.