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Election 2012 results: Women to reach landmark – 20 percent of senators

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With two Republican women stepping down – Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and Olympia Snowe of Maine – the partisan split among female senators will now be 16 Democrats and four Republicans.

Tuesday night was one of celebration for groups that back female Democratic candidates, with all six Democratic women up for reelection to the Senate prevailing.

“We saw debates on the Republican side that women didn’t think we’d be hearing in 2012 – a lot of talk about access to birth control, opposition to equal pay, very basic things for women,” says Jess McIntosh, spokeswoman for EMILY’s List, a group that backs Democratic women in favor of abortion rights who are running for office. “Voters decisively turned out and ... elected progressive champions who are going to put women and family first.”

In the Missouri Senate race, incumbent Claire McCaskill defeated Republican challenger Todd Akin, whose comments about “legitimate rape” generated controversy nationwide and cost him some support from his own party.

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