2010 United States elections

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2010 United States elections
Midterm elections
Election dayNovember 2
Incumbent presidentBarack Obama (Democratic)
Next Congress112th
Senate elections
Overall controlDemocratic Hold
Seats contested38 of 100 seats
(34 seats of Class III + 5 special elections)[1]
Net seat changeRepublican +6
2010 Senate election results map
2010 Senate election results map
     Republican gain
     Democratic hold      Republican hold
House elections
Overall controlRepublican Gain
Seats contestedAll 435 voting seats
Popular vote marginRepublican +6.8%
Net seat changeRepublican +63
2010 House election results map
2010 House election results map
     Democratic hold      Republican hold
     Democratic gain      Republican gain
Gubernatorial elections
Seats contested39 (37 states, 2 territories)
Net seat changeRepublican +6
2010 Gubernatorial election results map
2010 Gubernatorial election results map
     Democratic gain      Republican gain
     Democratic hold      Republican hold
     Independent gain

The 2010 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 2, 2010, in the middle of Democratic President Barack Obama's first term. Republicans ended unified Democratic control of Congress and the presidency by winning a majority in the House of Representatives.

Republicans picked up seven Senate seats (including a special election held in January 2010) but failed to gain a majority in the chamber. In the House of Representatives, Republicans won a net gain of 63 seats, the largest shift in seats since the 1948 elections. In state elections, Republicans won a net gain of six gubernatorial seats and flipped control of twenty state legislative chambers, giving them a substantial advantage in the redistricting that occurred following the 2010 United States Census.


Candidates and voters in 2010 focused on national economic conditions and the economic policies of the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats. Attention was paid to public anger over the Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush in late 2008. Voters were also motivated for and against the sweeping reforms of the health care system enacted by Democrats in 2010, as well as concerns over tax rates and record deficits.[2] At the time of the election, unemployment was over 9%, and had not declined significantly since Barack Obama had become President. Further eroding public trust in Congress were a series of scandals that saw Democratic Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, as well as Republican Senator John Ensign, all accused of unethical and/or illegal conduct in the months leading up to the 2010 election.

The fiscally-focused and quasi-libertarian Tea Party movement was a vocal force in mobilizing voters for Republican candidates nationwide. Their widespread exposure in the media contributed to the election's focus on economic, rather than social, issues. In the opinion of Fox News political analyst Dick Morris, a "fundamental change" occurred in which social issues did not dominate Republican activism in 2010, because "economic and fiscal issues prevail. The Tea Party has made the Republican Party safe for libertarians."[3]

Immigration reform had become an important issue in 2010, particularly following the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, officially known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. The Act greatly enhanced the power of Arizona's law enforcement agencies to investigate the immigration status of suspected illegal immigrants and to enforce state and national immigration laws. The Act also required immigrants to carry their immigration documentation on their person at all times. Its passage by a Republican-led legislature and its subsequent and very public signing by Jan Brewer, the Republican Governor of Arizona, ignited protests across the Southwest and galvanized political opinion among both pro-immigration Latino groups and Tea Party activists, many of whom supported stronger measures to stem illegal immigration.

The passage of the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also contributed to the low approval ratings of Congress, particularly Democrats, in the months leading up to the election. Many Republicans ran on a promise to repeal the law, and beat incumbent Democratic opponents who had voted in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Federal elections[edit]

Congressional elections[edit]

Senate elections[edit]

On January 19, 2010, a special election was also held for the Class I seat in Massachusetts, as a result of the death of incumbent Senator Ted Kennedy. Republican Scott Brown won the seat.

The 34 seats in the United States Senate Class III were up for election. In addition, the Class I/II seats held by appointed Senators Ted Kaufman of Delaware, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Carte Goodwin of West Virginia were contested in special elections on the same day. Republicans picked up six seats, but Democrats retained a majority in the Senate.

House of Representatives elections[edit]

All 435 voting seats in the United States House of Representatives were up for election. Additionally, elections were held to select the delegates for the District of Columbia and four of the five U.S. territories. The only seat in the House not up for election was that of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, who serves a four-year term and faced election in 2012. Republicans won the nationwide popular vote for the House of Representatives by a margin of 6.8 points[4] and picked up 63 seats, taking control of the chamber for the first time since the 2006 elections. This represented the largest single-election shift in House seats since the 1948 elections and the largest midterm election shift since the 1938 elections.[5][6]

State elections[edit]

Gubernatorial elections[edit]

37 state and two territory United States governors were up for election. Republicans picked up a net of six state governorships; Democrats won control of five governorships previously controlled by Republicans, but Republicans took 11 governorships.

Other state-wide officer elections[edit]

In many states where the following positions are elected offices, voters elected state executive branch offices (including Lieutenant Governors (though some will be voted for on the same ticket as the gubernatorial nominee), Secretary of state, state Treasurer, state Auditor, state Attorney General, state Superintendent of Education, Commissioners of Insurance, Agriculture or, Labor, etc.) and state judicial branch offices (seats on state Supreme Courts and, in some states, state appellate courts).

State legislative elections[edit]

All states except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia held elections for their state legislatures.[7] Republicans made substantial gains in state legislatures across the nation. Twenty chambers flipped from Democratic to Republican control, giving Republicans full control of eleven state legislatures and control of one chamber in Colorado, Iowa and New York.1[8] Additionally, Republicans gained enough seats in the Oregon House to produce a 30-30 party split, pushing Democrats into a power-sharing agreement that resulted in the election of two "co-speakers" (one from each party) to lead the chamber.[9] Republicans gained a total of 680 seats in state legislative races, breaking the previous record of 628 flipped seats set by Democrats in the post-Watergate elections of 1974.[10]

Six states saw both chambers switch from Democrat to Republican majorities: Alabama (where the Republicans won a majority for the first time in 136 years), Maine (for the first time since 1964), Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina (for the first time since 1896), and Wisconsin. In addition, by picking up the lower chambers in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Montana and Pennsylvania, Republicans gained control of both chambers in an additional five states. Further, Republicans picked up one chamber from Democrats in Colorado, Iowa, and New York to split control in those states. They expanded majorities in both chambers in Texas, Florida, and Georgia. The massive Republican victories in legislative races would be widely expected to have a major impact on the redrawing of Congressional districts for the 2012 election cycle.

One of the few bright spots for Democrats was retaining their majorities in both the California and Illinois legislatures.


  • 1 Prior to the 2010 election, the 100 seats in the Montana House of Representatives were evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, but the Democratic Party controlled the chamber by virtue of holding the governor's office.

Local elections[edit]

On November 2, 2010, various cities, counties, school boards, and special districts (in the United States) witnessed elections. Some elections were high-profile.

High-profile mayoral elections are listed below:


Approximately 82.5 million people voted.[14] Turnout increased relative to the last U.S. midterm elections without any significant shift in voters' political identification.[15]

Table of federal and state results[edit]

Bold indicates a change in control. Note that not all states held gubernatorial, state legislative, and United States Senate elections in 2010.

State[16] Before 2010 elections[17] After 2010 elections[18]
State PVI Governor State leg. US Senate US House Governor State leg. US Senate US House
Alabama R+13 Rep Dem Rep Rep 5–2 Rep Rep Rep Rep 6–1
Alaska R+13 Rep Split Split Rep 1–0 Rep Split Split Rep 1–0
Arizona R+6 Rep Rep Rep Dem 5–3 Rep Rep Rep Rep 5–3
Arkansas R+9 Dem Dem Dem Dem 3–1 Dem Dem Split Rep 3–1
California D+7 Rep Dem Dem Dem 34–19 Dem Dem Dem Dem 34–19
Colorado Even Dem Dem Dem Dem 5–2 Dem Split Dem Rep 4–3
Connecticut D+7 Rep Dem Split D/I[a] Dem 5–0 Dem Dem Split D/I[a] Dem 5–0
Delaware D+7 Dem Dem Dem Rep 1–0 Dem Dem Dem Dem 1–0
Florida R+2 Ind Rep Split Rep 15–10 Rep Rep Split Rep 19–6
Georgia R+7 Rep Rep Rep Rep 7–6 Rep Rep Rep Rep 8–5
Hawaii D+12 Rep Dem Dem Split 1–1 Dem Dem Dem Dem 2–0
Idaho R+17 Rep Rep Rep Split 1–1 Rep Rep Rep Rep 2–0
Illinois D+8 Dem Dem Dem Dem 12–7 Dem Dem Split Rep 11–8
Indiana R+6 Rep Split Split Dem 5–3 Rep Rep Rep Rep 6–3
Iowa D+1 Dem Dem Split Dem 3–2 Rep Split Split Dem 3–2
Kansas R+11 Dem Rep Rep Rep 3–1 Rep Rep Rep Rep 4–0
Kentucky R+10 Dem Split Rep Rep 4–2 Dem Split Rep Rep 4–2
Louisiana R+10 Rep Dem Split Rep 6–1 Rep Split Split Rep 6–1
Maine D+5 Dem Dem Rep Dem 2–0 Rep Rep Rep Dem 2–0
Maryland D+9 Dem Dem Dem Dem 7–1 Dem Dem Dem Dem 6–2
Massachusetts D+12 Dem Dem Split Dem 10–0 Dem Dem Split Dem 10–0
Michigan D+4 Dem Split Dem Dem 8–7 Rep Rep Dem Rep 9–6
Minnesota D+2 Rep Dem Dem Dem 5–3 Dem Rep Dem Split 4–4
Mississippi R+10 Rep Dem Rep Dem 3–1 Rep Dem Rep Rep 3–1
Missouri R+3 Dem Rep Split Rep 5–4 Dem Rep Split Rep 6–3
Montana R+7 Dem Split Dem Rep 1–0 Dem Rep Dem Rep 1–0
Nebraska R+13 Rep NP Split Rep 3–0 Rep NP Split Rep 3–0
Nevada D+1 Rep Dem Split Dem 2–1 Rep Dem Split Rep 2–1
New Hampshire D+2 Dem Dem Split Dem 2–0 Dem Rep Split Rep 2–0
New Jersey D+4 Rep Dem Dem Dem 8–5 Rep Dem Dem Dem 7–6
New Mexico D+2 Dem Dem Dem Dem 3–0 Rep Dem Dem Dem 2–1
New York D+10 Dem Dem Dem Dem 26–2 Dem Split Dem Dem 21–8
North Carolina R+4 Dem Dem Split Dem 8–5 Dem Rep Split Dem 7–6
North Dakota R+10 Rep Rep Dem Dem 1–0 Rep Rep Split Rep 1–0
Ohio R+1 Dem Split Split Dem 10–8 Rep Rep Split Rep 13–5
Oklahoma R+17 Dem Rep Rep Rep 4–1 Rep Rep Rep Rep 4–1
Oregon D+4 Dem Dem Dem Dem 4–1 Dem Split Dem Dem 4–1
Pennsylvania D+2 Dem Split Dem Dem 12–7 Rep Rep Rep Rep 12–7
Rhode Island D+11 Rep Dem Dem Dem 2–0 Ind Dem Dem Dem 2–0
South Carolina R+8 Rep Rep Rep Rep 4–2 Rep Rep Rep Rep 5–1
South Dakota R+9 Rep Rep Split Dem 1–0 Rep Rep Split Rep 1–0
Tennessee R+9 Dem Rep Rep Dem 5–4 Rep Rep Rep Rep 7–2
Texas R+10 Rep Rep Rep Rep 20–12 Rep Rep Rep Rep 23–9
Utah R+20 Rep Rep Rep Rep 2–1 Rep Rep Rep Rep 2–1
Vermont D+13 Rep Dem Split D/I[b] Dem 1–0 Dem Dem Split D/I[b] Dem 1–0
Virginia R+2 Rep Split Dem Dem 6–5 Rep Split Dem Rep 8–3
Washington D+5 Dem Dem Dem Dem 6–3 Dem Dem Dem Dem 5–4
West Virginia R+8 Dem Dem Dem Dem 2–1 Dem Dem Dem Rep 2–1
Wisconsin D+2 Dem Dem Dem Dem 5–3 Rep Rep Split Rep 5–3
Wyoming R+20 Dem Rep Rep Rep 1–0 Rep Rep Rep Rep 1–0
United States Even Dem 26–23 Dem 27–14 Dem 59–41 Dem 255–178 Rep 29–20 Rep 25–16 Dem 53–47 Rep 242–193
Washington, D.C. D+43 Dem[c] Dem[c] N/A Dem Dem Dem N/A Dem
American Samoa N/A NP/D[d] NP Dem NP/D[d] NP Dem
Guam Rep Dem Dem Rep Dem Dem
N. Mariana Islands CP Rep Ind[e] CP Rep Dem[f]
Puerto Rico PNP/R[g] PNP PNP/D[h] PNP/R[g] PNP PNP/D[h]
U.S. Virgin Islands Dem Dem Dem Dem Dem Dem
Subdivision PVI Governor State leg. U.S. Senate U.S. House Governor State leg. U.S. Senate U.S. House
Subdivision and PVI Before 2010 elections After 2010 elections


  1. ^ a b Joe Lieberman was elected as an independent but continued to caucus with Senate Democrats. Connecticut's other Senator was a Democrat.
  2. ^ a b Bernie Sanders was elected as an independent but caucused with Senate Democrats. Vermont's other Senator was a Democrat.
  3. ^ a b Washington, D.C. does not elect a governor or state legislature, but it does elect a mayor and a city council.
  4. ^ a b Although elections for governor of American Samoa are non-partisan, Governor Togiola Tulafono affiliates with the Democratic party at the national level.
  5. ^ Northern Marianas Islands Delegate Gregorio Sablan was elected as an independent in 2008 and caucused with the Democrats in Congress after taking office in 2009.
  6. ^ Sablan was re-elected as a Democrat in 2010.
  7. ^ a b Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño is a member of the New Progressive Party but affiliates with the Republican Party at the national level.
  8. ^ a b Puerto Rico's Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, was elected as a member of the New Progressive Party and has caucused with the Democrats since taking office in 2009.


  1. ^ The Class 2 Senate seat in Illinois held concurrent regular and special elections in November 2010. That special election is not included in the total number of seats contested.
  2. ^ Jeffrey M. Jones, "Americans Give GOP Edge on Most Election Issues; Greatest Republican advantages on terrorism, immigration, federal spending", Gallup, September 1, 2010
  3. ^ ""The New Republican Right", TheHill.com". Realclearpolitics.com. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
  4. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010" (PDF). U.S. House of Reps, Office of the Clerk. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  5. ^ "In Redistricting Year, GOP Gains a Big Edge". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  6. ^ "Four More Lessons from the GOP Landslide". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  7. ^ "2010 Primary Dates and Seats Up". September 23, 2009. Archived from the original on January 28, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  8. ^ Storey, Tim. "GOP Makes Historic State Legislative Gains in 2010". Rasmussen Reports. Rasmussen Report, LLC. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  9. ^ Cole, Michelle (Jan 11, 2011). "Oregon House makes history by electing two co-speakers". The Oregonian. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  10. ^ "Devastation: GOP Picks Up 680 State Leg. Seats". November 4, 2010. Archived from the original on October 28, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  11. ^ Voters say 'yes' to home rule - News. Standard Speaker (2010-11-03). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  12. ^ "Luzerne County : Election Results Archive". www.luzernecounty.org. Archived from the original on 11 January 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  13. ^ timesleadervideo (2 January 2012). "Luzerne County Council members sworn in - The Times Leader reports". Retrieved 18 March 2018 – via YouTube.
  14. ^ Tomasky, Michael (November 3, 2010). "Turnout: says a lot". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  15. ^ "It's the Ideology, Stupid: Midterm elections". The New Republic. November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  16. ^ "Partisan Voter Index by State, 1994-2014" (PDF). Cook Political Report. Retrieved 19 May 2016. PVI in 2010
  17. ^ "2010 State and Legislative Partisan Composition" (PDF). National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  18. ^ "2011 State and Legislative Partisan Composition" (PDF). National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved 19 May 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Abramson, Paul et al. Change and Continuity in the 2008 and 2010 Elections (2011)
  • Bullock, Charles S., et al. Key States, High Stakes: Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and the 2010 Elections (2011)
  • Jacobson, Gary C. "The Republican resurgence in 2010." Political Science Quarterly (2011) 126#1 pp: 27-52. online
  • Sabato, Larry. Who Got in the Booth? A Look Back at the 2010 Elections (2011)

External links[edit]

National newspapers
National radio
National TV