1978 United States elections

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1978 United States elections
Midterm elections
Election dayNovember 7
Incumbent presidentJimmy Carter (Democratic)
Next Congress96th
Senate elections
Overall controlDemocratic Hold
Seats contested35 of 100 seats
(33 seats of Class 2 + 2 special elections)
Net seat changeRepublican +3[1]
1978 Senate election map.svg
1978 Senate election results

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

House elections
Overall controlDemocratic Hold
Seats contestedAll 435 voting seats
Popular vote marginDemocratic +8.9%
Net seat changeRepublican +15
1978 House Elections.png
1978 House of Representatives election results

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

Gubernatorial elections
Seats contested38 (36 states, 2 territories)
Net seat changeRepublican +6
1978 Gubernatorial election map.svg
1978 gubernatorial election results
Territorial races not shown

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

The 1978 United States elections were held on November 7, 1978, and elected the members of the 96th United States Congress. The election occurred in the middle of Democratic President Jimmy Carter's term. Democrats retained control of both houses of Congress.

The Democrats lost three seats in the United States Senate to the Republican Party.[2] Democrats won the nationwide popular vote for the House of Representatives by a margin of 8.9 percentage points, but lost fifteen seats to Republicans.[2] The elections represent the most recent instance in which the president's party retained control of both houses of Congress in a mid-term election, although the 2002 elections saw Republicans retain the House and win control of the Senate.

In the gubernatorial elections, Republicans picked up six seats. Among the newly elected governors was future president Bill Clinton from Arkansas. Clinton's eventual successor as president, George W. Bush, ran as the Republican nominee in Texas's 19th congressional district but was defeated by Democrat Kent Hance.

Though Republicans gains were relatively modest for a midterm election, the election set the stage for the Reagan Revolution. Many of the newly elected members of Congress were more conservative than their predecessors, and most supported tax cuts that would eventually be implemented in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981. The election also ended the possibility of a ratification of the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union. Carter's move to the center after this election encouraged a 1980 Democratic primary challenge by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Republicans picked up two seats in the regularly-scheduled elections and picked up another seat in a special election.
  2. ^ a b "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 1978" (PDF). U.S. House of Reps, Office of the Clerk. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  3. ^ Busch, Andrew (1999). Horses in Midstream. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 106–110.