United States Senate elections, 1972

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United States Senate elections, 1972
United States
← 1970 November 7, 1972 1974 →

34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate
51 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
  Michael Joseph Mansfield.jpg SenHughScott.jpg
Leader Mike Mansfield Hugh Scott
Party Democratic Republican
Leader's seat Montana Pennsylvania
Last election 54 seats 44 seats
Seats won 56 42
Seat change Increase 2 Decrease 2
Popular vote 17,199,567 19,821,203
Percentage 45.5% 52.4%
Swing Decrease 6.9% Increase 12.5%

  Third party Fourth party
Party Independent Democrat Conservative (N.Y.)
Last election 1 seat 1 seat
Seats before 1 1
Seats won 1 1
Seat change Steady Steady

1972 Senate election map.svg
  Democratic gain
  Democratic hold
  Republican gain
  Republican hold

Majority Leader before election

Mike Mansfield

Elected Majority Leader

Mike Mansfield

The United States Senate elections, 1972 was an election for the United States Senate coinciding with the landslide re-election of Republican President Richard Nixon. Despite Nixon's victory, Democrats increased their majority by two seats. After the election, Democrats held 56 seats and Republicans held 42 seats, with 1 Conservative and 1 independent Senator. This was the first election that citizens at least 18 years of age (instead of 21 and older) could vote due to the recent passage of the 26th Amendment.

Results summary[edit]

Parties Total Seats Popular Vote
Incumbents Not up This election Result +/- Vote  %
Up Re-
Held Gained Lost
Democratic 54 40 14 8 2 Increase 6 Decrease 4 56 Increase 2 17,199,567 45.49%
Republican 44 24 20 13 1 Increase 4 Decrease 6 42 Decrease 2 19,821,203 52.42%
Independent 1 1 0 0 0 Steady Steady 1 Steady 318,238 0.84%
Conservative 1 1 0 0 0 Steady Steady 1 Steady 42,348 0.11%
Others 0 0 0 0 0 Steady Steady 0 Steady 470,090 1.24%
Total 100 66 34 21 3 Increase 10 Decrease 10 100 Steady 37,809,098 100.0%

Source: "Election Statistics". U.S. House of Representatives, Office of the Clerk. Archived from the original on July 25, 2007. 

Change in Senate composition[edit]

Senate composition before the elections[edit]

D9 D8 D7 D6 D5 D4 D3 D2 D1 I1
D10 D11 D12 D13 D14 D15 D16 D17 D18 D19
D29 D28 D27 D26 D25 D24 D23 D22 D21 D20
D30 D31 D32 D33 D34 D35 D36 D37 D38 D39
D49 D48 D47 D46 D45 D44 D43 D42 D41 D40
D50 ← Majority
D51 D52 D53 D54 R44 R43 R42 R41 R40
R30 R31 R32 R33 R34 R35 R36 R37 R38 R39
R29 R28 R27 R26 R25 R24 R23 R22 R21 R20
R10 R11 R12 R13 R14 R15 R16 R17 R18 R19
R9 R8 R7 R6 R5 R4 R3 R2 R1 C1

Senate composition as a result of the elections[edit]

D9 D8 D7 D6 D5 D4 D3 D2 D1 I1
D10 D11 D12 D13 D14 D15 D16 D17 D18 D19
D29 D28 D27 D26 D25 D24 D23 D22 D21 D20
D30 D31 D32 D33 D34 D35 D36 D37 D38 D39
D49O D48 D47 D46 D45 D44 D43 D42 D41 D40
D50O ← Majority
D51+ D52+ D53+ D54+ D55+ D56+ R42+ R41+ R40+
R30 R31 R32 R33 R34 R35 R36 R37 R38O R39+
R29 R28 R27 R26 R25 R24 R23 R22 R21 R20
R10 R11 R12 R13 R14 R15 R16 R17 R18 R19
R9 R8 R7 R6 R5 R4 R3 R2 R1 C1
C# Conservative, caucusing with the Republicans
D# Democratic
I# Independent, caucusing with the Democrats
R# Republican
Incumbent re-elected or appointee elected to finish term
O Party hold: New senator elected from same party
+ Party gain: New senator elected from different party

Gains and losses[edit]

Democratic pickups included open seats in Kentucky and South Dakota, and defeats of Senators Gordon L. Allott of Colorado, J. Caleb Boggs of Delaware, Jack Miller of Iowa, and Margaret Chase Smith of Maine.

Republican pickups included open seats in New Mexico, North Carolina, and Oklahoma, and the defeat of incumbent William B. Spong, Jr. of Virginia.


In 1974, William B. Saxbe of Ohio resigned to become Attorney General, and Democrat Howard Metzenbaum was appointed to replace him. This is not included in the party balances.

Complete list of races[edit]

All elections are class 2 unless otherwise indicated.

Bold states links to a separate article about that state's election.

Bold candidates indicates the winner.

State Incumbent Party Results Candidates
Alabama John Sparkman Democratic Re-elected John Sparkman (Democratic) 62.3%
Winton M. Blount (Republican) 33.1%
John L. LeFlore (Nat'l Democratic) 3.0%
Jerome Couch (AL Prohibition) 1.0%
Herbert Stone (AL Conservative) 0.6%
Alaska Ted Stevens Republican Re-elected Ted Stevens (Republican) 77.3%
Gene Guess (Democratic) 22.7%
Arkansas John Little McClellan Democratic Re-elected John Little McClellan (Democratic) 60.8%
Wayne H. Babbitt (Republican) 39.1%
Colorado Gordon L. Allott Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Floyd K. Haskell (Democratic) 49.4%
Gordon L. Allott (Republican) 48.4%
Secundion Salazar (Raza Unida) 1.4%
Henry Olshaw (American) 0.8%
Delaware J. Caleb Boggs Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Joe Biden (Democratic) 50.5%
J. Caleb Boggs (Republican) 49.1%
Georgia David H. Gambrell Democratic Lost renomination
Democratic hold
Sam Nunn (Democratic) 54.0%
Fletcher Thompson (Republican) 46.0%
Idaho Leonard B. Jordan Republican Retired
Republican hold
James A. McClure (Republican) 52.3%
William E. Davis (Democratic) 45.5%
Illinois Charles H. Percy Republican Re-elected Charles H. Percy (Republican) 62.2%
Roman Pucinski (Democratic) 37.4%
Iowa Jack Miller Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Dick Clark (Democratic) 55.1%
Jack Miller (Republican) 44.1%
Kansas James B. Pearson Republican Re-elected James B. Pearson (Republican) 71.4%
Arch Tetzlaff (Democratic) 23.0%
Kentucky John Sherman Cooper Republican Retired
Democratic gain
Walter D. Huddleston (Democratic) 50.9%
Louie B. Nunn (Republican) 47.6%
Louisiana Allen J. Ellender (died July 27, 1972)
Elaine S. Edwards
Democratic Appointee did not run for full term
Democratic hold
J. Bennett Johnston (Democratic) 55.2%
John McKeithen (Independent) 23.1%
Ben C. Toledano (Republican) 16.1%
Hall M. Lyons (American Party), 2.7%
Maine Margaret Chase Smith Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
William Hathaway (Democratic) 53.2%
Margaret Chase Smith (Republican) 46.8%
Massachusetts Edward Brooke Republican Re-elected Edward Brooke (Republican) 63.5%
John J. Droney (Democratic) 34.7%
Donald Gurewitz (Socialist Workers) 1.7%
Michigan Robert P. Griffin Republican Re-elected Robert P. Griffin (Republican) 52.3%
Frank J. Kelley (Democratic) 46.3%
Minnesota Walter Mondale Democratic Re-elected Walter Mondale (Democratic) 56.7%
Phil Hansen (Republican) 42.9%
Mississippi James Eastland Democratic Re-elected James Eastland (Democratic) 58.1%
Gil Carmichael (Republican) 38.7%
Montana Lee Metcalf Democratic Re-elected Lee Metcalf (Democratic) 52.0%
Henry S. Hibbard (Republican) 48.1%
Nebraska Carl Curtis Republican Re-elected Carl Curtis (Republican) 53.1%
Terry Carpenter (Democratic) 46.8%
New Hampshire Thomas J. McIntyre Democratic Re-elected Thomas J. McIntyre (Democratic) 56.9%
Wesley Powell (Republican) 43.1%
New Jersey Clifford P. Case Republican Re-elected Clifford P. Case (Republican) 62.5%
Paul J. Krebs (Democratic) 34.5%
New Mexico Clinton Presba Anderson Democratic Retired
Republican gain
Pete Domenici (Republican) 54.0%
Jack Daniels (Democratic) 46.0%
North Carolina B. Everett Jordan Democratic Lost renomination
Republican gain
Jesse Helms (Republican) 54.0%
Nick Galifianakis (Democratic) 46.0%
Oklahoma Fred R. Harris Democratic Retired
Republican gain
Dewey F. Bartlett (Republican) 51.4%
Ed Edmondson (Democratic) 47.6%
Oregon Mark Hatfield Republican Re-elected Mark Hatfield (Republican) 53.7%
Wayne Morse (Democratic) 46.2%
Rhode Island Claiborne Pell Democratic Re-elected Claiborne Pell (Democratic) 53.7%
John Chafee (Republican) 45.7%
South Carolina Strom Thurmond Republican Re-elected Strom Thurmond (Republican) 63.3%
Eugene N. Zeigler (Democratic) 36.7%
South Dakota Karl Earl Mundt Republican Retired
Democratic gain
James Abourezk (Democratic) 57.0%
Robert W. Hirsch (Republican) 42.9%
Tennessee Howard Baker Republican Re-elected Howard Baker (Republican) 61.6%
Ray Blanton (Democratic) 37.9%
Texas John Tower Republican Re-elected John Tower (Republican) 53.4%
Barefoot Sanders (Democratic) 44.3%
Virginia William B. Spong, Jr. Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
William L. Scott (Republican) 51.5%
William B. Spong, Jr. (Democratic) 46.1%
West Virginia Jennings Randolph Democratic Re-elected Jennings Randolph (Democratic) 66.5%
Louise Leonard (Republican) 33.6%
Wyoming Clifford Hansen Republican Re-elected Clifford Hansen (Republican) 71.3%
Mike Vinich (Democratic) 28.7%

See also[edit]