By Halimah Abdullah, CNN
Washington (CNN) - In many ways, the 2012 election was the year of the woman.
Women — who have historically formed one of President Barack Obama's key constituencies — once again united behind him in large numbers and helped fend off defections from white male and independent supporters.
A record 20 women will hold U.S. Senate seats next year—including newly-elected Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin, the first openly lesbian senator. The New Hampshire congressional delegation will be all female and, in Obama's home state of Hawaii, Democrat Mazie Hirono will represent the islands in the Senate.
"I'm not sure if it was as much a coincidence as a perfect storm," said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor with the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
"The conditions were right and the Republican nominee gave women pause."
According to CNN's exit polls, 55% of women and 45% of men voted for Obama and 44% of women and 52% of men voted for Romney. That level of female support for the president made an especially big impact in swing states like Ohio where the gender breakdown mirrored the national figures.
By Catherine E. Shoichet and Valeria Fernandez, CNN
(CNN) - The Arizona sheriff known nationwide for his tough stance on undocumented immigrants says he has a mission now that he's clinched another re-election victory: meeting with Latinos.
"I would hope to get together with the Latino community, if I could ever have them talk to me without screaming and threatening me," Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told supporters as election results came in Tuesday night. "So I hope to get together with the community and try to explain what we do, so that's going to be one of my missions coming up."
Both the American Civil Liberties Union and the U.S. Justice Department have filed lawsuits accusing Arpaio of civil rights violations and racial discrimination against Latinos.
Last December, the Justice Department said it had found cause to believe the sheriff's office "has engaged in a pattern of misconduct that violates the Constitution and federal law" and, under the leadership of Arpaio, discriminated against Latinos through traffic stops, detentions and arrests and against Latino inmates with limited English proficiency by punishing them and denying them critical services.
Arpaio has denied any discrimination or civil rights violations, and one of his attorneys called the Justice Department investigation a "witch hunt."
Gun violence is on the rise in several American cities. Out of the nation’s 10 largest cities, Philadelphia has the highest homicide rate. This year’s death toll is up to 277.
But Scott Charles, a local educator and a trauma surgeon, has created an innovative program to save lives of potential victims even before they arrive in the operating room. CNN Correspondent Sarah Hoye has this week’s “Black in America” report, about a Philadelphia program takes youth on a journey to expose them to the real impact of gun violence.
Soledad O'Brien's documentary "Who is Black in America?" airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on December 9 on CNN.
Editor's note: Hanna Rosin is the author of the new book, "The End of Men: And the Rise of Women." She is co-founder of Slate's DoubleX, a web magazine about women issues.
By Hanna Rosin, Special to CNN
(CNN) - I almost always get asked the same question: How can it possibly be the "end of men" when there are so few female elected officials - when men still hold the reins of political power?
It's an excellent question. Until now, I've answered by pointing to statistical trends and future projections. Always, I ask people to take a leap of faith. But after this election, I feel like I am on so much more solid ground.
The women's vote did not turn out to be historic in the way pundits predicted before the election. Yes, more women voted for President Obama, but not in record numbers. The gender gap was in fact a little smaller in this election than in 2008. Yes, women were important in certain states, but so were young people, African-Americans and Latinos, who, together, make up Obama's new winning coalition. What's more, women did not even constitute a unified vote. Married women tended to vote for Romney, while single women went for Obama.
What changed in this election was that women accumulated power in a calm and measured way, and began to look for the first time much less like outsiders to the political process.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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