Two years after a humiliating defeat in the US Presidential elections, Democrats finally have reason to celebrate as they look set to re-take control of the House of Representatives.
And among the wins for the party, some stand out as truly historic.
The record number of women contenders and candidates of colour meant several winners will take office as trailblazers, marking firsts for their race and gender.
The first Muslim women and first openly gay male Representatives are a welcome antidote to the polarisation that has gripped parts of the US since Donald Trump took office.
The Democratic gains were fuelled by women, young and Hispanic voters, a Reuters/Ipsos Election Day poll found. Fifty-five percent of women said they backed a Democrat for the House this year, compared to 49% in the 2014 midterm congressional election.
Massachusetts’ First Black Woman In Congress
Democrat Ayanna Pressley won her House race in Massachusetts’ 7th District on Tuesday, becoming the state’s first black woman elected to Congress.
Pressley, 44, was guaranteed victory as she stood unopposed, securing an upset win against 10-term Democratic incumbent Republican Michael Capuano during the primaries.
The First Muslim Women
Democrats Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan will be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress.
In her victory speech, accompanied by loud cheers and applause, Omar said: “I stand here before you tonight as your congresswoman-elect with many firsts behind my name.
“The first woman of colour to represent our state in Congress, the first woman to wear a hijab, the first refugee ever elected to Congress and one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress.”
And in a dig at Trump’s rhetoric against immigrants, she added: “Here in Minnesota we don’t only welcome immigrants, we send them to Washington.”
The First Openly Gay Man
In Colorado, Democrat Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected governor of a US state.
The five-term congressman defeated Republican state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, a second cousin of President George W Bush.
Earlier in the year, Polis talked about the historic nature of his candidacy and said his victory would give Colorado “an opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of Mike Pence, whose view of America is not as inclusive as where America is today.”
Elsewhere however, Democrat Christine Hallquist lost her bid to become the first openly transgender US governor in Vermont, where Republican incumbent Phil Scott won re-election.
The First Female Native Americans
Democrats Deb Haaland and Sharice Davids won their congressional races on Tuesday night, making history as the first female indigenous candidates heading to the US House of Representatives.
Haaland, an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe and 57-year-old single mum, swept to an easy victory in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District.
Davids, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation, won election in Kansas’ 3rd Congressional District against four-term incumbent Republican Kevin Yoder.
The 37-year-old earned her law degree from Cornell Law School, worked as a legal counsel for a development corporation on a South Dakota reservation and served as a White House fellow under President Barack Obama.
She also competed professionally in mixed martial arts.
And she makes another first – come January, Davids will be the first openly LGBTQ member of the Kansas congressional delegation.
The Youngest Woman
Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won in New York’s 14th District last night, making the 29-year-old the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.
The political newcomer made headlines nationwide in June when she unexpectedly defeated 10-term Republican Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary.
The millennial Latina, born to a Puerto Rican mom and Bronx dad, famously worked as a bartender just months before winning her primary and had never previously held political office.