United States Senate elections, 1996

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United States Senate elections, 1996
United States
← 1994 November 5, 1996 1998 →

Class 2 (33 of the 100) seats in the United States Senate
and one mid-term vacancy from Class 3

51 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
  Trent Lott official portrait.jpg Tom Daschle, official Senate photo.jpg
Leader Trent Lott Tom Daschle
Party Republican Democratic
Leader since June 12, 1996 January 3, 1995
Leader's seat Mississippi South Dakota
Seats before 53 47
Seats won 55 45
Seat change Increase 2 Decrease 2
Popular vote 24,211,395 23,490,651
Percentage 49.4% 47.9%
Swing Decrease 0.5% Increase 3.9%
Seats up 18 15
Races won 20 13

1996 Senate election map.svg
Results of the general elections
     Democratic gain      Democratic hold
     Republican gain      Republican hold

Majority leader before election

Trent Lott
Republican

Elected Majority leader

Trent Lott
Republican

The United States Senate elections, 1996 coincided with the presidential election, in which Democrat Bill Clinton was re-elected President.

Despite the re-election of Clinton and Gore, and despite Democrats picking up a net two seats in the elections to the United States House of Representatives held the same day, the Republicans had a net gain of two seats in the Senate, following major Republican gains two years previously in the 1994 elections. As such, Clinton became the first president re-elected since Theodore Roosevelt in 1904 to win either of his terms without any Senate coattails.

The Republicans captured open seats in Alabama, Arkansas, and Nebraska. In South Dakota, Democrat Tim Johnson narrowly defeated incumbent Republican Larry Pressler.

The 1996 election marked the first time since 1980 that the Republican party made gains in the Senate for two consecutive election cycles.

Results summary[edit]

45 55
Democratic Republican

Does not include Oregon's January 1996 special election, which was not held at the same time as this election.

Parties Total
Democratic Republican Libertarian Other
Last election: 1994 47 53 100
End of last (104th) Congress 47 53 100
Not Up 32 34 66
Up 15 19 34
Incumbent retired 8 4 12
Held by same party 5 4 9
Replaced by other party 3 0 3
Incumbent ran 7 14 21
Won re-election 7 13 20
Lost re-election 0 1 1
Lost renomination,
but held by same party
0 1 1
Summary
Won 12 18 30
Lost 3 1 4
Gained 1 3 4
Elected 13 21 34
Result 45 55 100
Change Decrease 2 Increase 2 Steady Steady Steady
Nationwide vote 23,490,651 24,211,395 362,208 939,895 49,004,149
Share 47.94% 49.41% 0.74% 1.92% 100%

Sources:

Gains, losses, and holds[edit]

Democratic gains[edit]

  • South Dakota: Three-term Sen. Larry Pressler (R) faced a tough challenge from Rep. Tim Johnson (D). Johnson would defeat Pressler by 51% to 49% and become the only candidate to defeat an incumbent in this year's election cycle.

Democratic holds[edit]

  • Georgia: Incumbent Senator Sam Nunn decided not to run for re-election and gave his endorsements to Secretary of State Max Cleland, the democratic nominee. However, Cleland faced a tough election against Republican Businessman Guy Milner who accused Cleland on rejecting war request and raising taxes for the rich. However Cleland claimed Milner was rich already and if elected would use the advantage of the senate for his wealth. Cleland won by a very narrow margin.
  • Illinois: Two-term incumbent Senator Paul Simon decided not to seek reelection. The Democratic nominee was Congressman Richard Durbin, who had Simon's strong support. In the general election, he defeated Republican state Representative Al Salvi by a comfortable margin.
  • Louisiana: Four-term Senator Bennett Johnson decided not to run for reelection. In the general election, state Treasurer Mary Landrieu faced up against longtime state Representative Woody Jenkins, who had run against Johnson in 1978. In the closest U.S. Senate race of the year, Landrieu won by less than 1%, a margin which held up to a recount.

Republican gains[edit]

  • Alabama: Sen. Howell Heflin (D), one of the last conservative Democrats in the Senate, retired after three terms. Republican nominee Jeff Sessions, the state Attorney General, defeated Democratic State Senator Roger Bedford in the general election
  • Arkansas: Popular Sen. David Pryor (D) chose not to seek a fourth term. The Democratic Party in Arkansas had been badly damaged by the resignation of Governor Jim Guy Tucker after being convicted of mail fraud. This helped Rep. Tim Hutchinson (R) defeat Democratic state Attorney General Winston Bryant to become Arkansas' first Republican Senator since Reconstruction.
  • Nebraska: Democratic Governor Ben Nelson was expected to easily win the race to succeed retiring Sen. J. James Exon (D). Republican businessman Chuck Hagel, however, made it a highly competitive race and pulled off a huge fourteen point upset over the popular governor (Nelson won election to Nebraska's other Senate seat four years later).

Change in Senate composition[edit]

Before the elections[edit]

After the January 1996 special election in Oregon.

D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10
D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11
D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28 D29 D30
D40
Ran
D39
Ran
D38
Ran
D37
Ran
D36
Ran
D35
Ran
D34
Ran
D33
Ran
D32 D31
D41
Retired
D42
Retired
D43
Retired
D44
Retired
D45
Retired
D46
Retired
D47
Retired
R53
Retired
R52
Retired
R51
Retired
Majority →
R41
Ran
R42
Ran
R43
Ran
R44
Ran
R45
Ran
R46
Ran
R47
Ran
R48
Ran
R49
Ran
R50
Retired
R40
Ran
R39
Ran
R38
Ran
R37
Ran
R36
Ran
R35 R34 R33 R32 R31
R21 R22 R23 R24 R25 R26 R27 R28 R29 R30
R20 R19 R18 R17 R16 R15 R14 R13 R12 R11
R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10

After the general elections[edit]

D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10
D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11
D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28 D29 D30
D40
Hold
D39
Re-elected
D38
Re-elected
D37
Re-elected
D36
Re-elected
D35
Re-elected
D34
Re-elected
D33
Re-elected
D32 D31
D41
Hold
D42
Hold
D43
Hold
D44
Hold
D45
Gain
R55
Gain
R54
Gain
R53
Hold
R52
Hold
R51
Hold
Majority →
R41
Re-elected
R42
Re-elected
R43
Re-elected
R44
Re-elected
R45
Re-elected
R46
Re-elected
R47
Re-elected
R48
Re-elected
R49
Re-elected
R50
Hold
R40
Re-elected
R39
Re-elected
R38
Re-elected
R37
Re-elected
R36
Re-elected
R35 R34 R33 R32 R31
R21 R22 R23 R24 R25 R26 R27 R28 R29 R30
R20 R19 R18 R17 R16 R15 R14 R13 R12 R11
R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10

After the November 1996 special election[edit]

D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9 D10
D20 D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11
D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28 D29 D30
D40 D39 D38 D37 D36 D35 D34 D33 D32 D31
D41 D42 D43 D44 D45 R55 R54 R53 R52 R51
Majority →
R41 R42 R43 R44 R45 R46 R47 R48 R49 R50
R40 R39 R38 R37 R36 R35
Hold
R34 R33 R32 R31
R21 R22 R23 R24 R25 R26 R27 R28 R29 R30
R20 R19 R18 R17 R16 R15 R14 R13 R12 R11
R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10
Key:
D# Democratic
R# Republican

Summary of contests[edit]

Special elections during the 104th Congress[edit]

In these special elections, the winners were seated between January 1, 1996 and January 2, 1997, sorted by election date, then state, then class.

State
(linked to
summaries below)
Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Oregon
(Class 3)
Bob Packwood Republican 1968
1974
1980
1986
1992
Incumbent resigned.
New senator elected January 30, 1996.
Democratic gain.
Ron Wyden (Democratic) 47.8%
Gordon H. Smith (Republican) 46.2%
Karen Shilling (American Independent) 2.1%
Gene Nanni (Libertarian) 1.3%
Vickie Valdez (Socialist) 0.7%
Lou Gold (Pacific Green) 0.6%
Kansas
Class 3
Sheila Frahm Republican 1996 (Appointed) Interim appointee lost renomination
New senator elected November 5, 1996.
Republican hold.
Sam Brownback (Republican) 53.9%
Jill Docking (Democratic) 43.3%
Donald R. Klaassen (Reform) 2.8%

Elections leading to the next Congress[edit]

In these general elections, the winners were elected for the term beginning January 3, 1997; ordered by state.

All of the elections involved the Class 2 seats.

State
(linked to
summaries below)
Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Alabama Heflin, HowellHowell Heflin Democratic 1978
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
Jeff Sessions (Republican) 52.5%
Roger Bedford (Democratic) 45.5%
Mark Thornton (Libertarian) 1.4%
Charles R. Hebner (Natural Law) 0.6%
Alaska Stevens, TedTed Stevens Republican 1968 (Appointed)
1970
1972
1978
1984
1990
1996
Incumbent re-elected. Ted Stevens (Republican) 76.7%
Jeff Whittaker (Green) 12.5%
Theresa Obermeyer (Democratic) 10.3%
Arkansas Pryor, DavidDavid Pryor Democratic 1978
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
Tim Hutchinson (Republican) 52.7%
Winston Bryant (Democratic) 47.3%
Colorado Brown, HankHank Brown Republican 1990 Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Republican hold.
Wayne Allard (Republican) 51.4%
Tom Strickland (Democratic) 45.7%
Randy MacKenzie (Natural Law) 2.9%
Delaware Biden, JoeJoe Biden Democratic 1972
1978
1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Joe Biden (Democratic) 60%
Raymond J. Clatworthy (Republican) 38.1%
Mark Jones (Libertarian) 1.2%
Jacqueline Kossoff (Natural Law) 0.6%
Georgia Nunn, SamSam Nunn Democratic 1972 (Special)
1972
1978
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Democratic hold.
Max Cleland (Democratic) 48.9%
Guy Millner (Republican) 47.5%
John Gregory Cashin (Libertarian) 3.6%
Idaho Craig, LarryLarry Craig Republican 1990 Incumbent re-elected. Larry E. Craig (Republican) 57.0%
Walt Minnick (Democratic) 39.9%
Mary J. Charbonneau (Independent) 2.0%
Susan Vegors (Natural Law) 1.0%
Illinois Simon, PaulPaul Simon Democratic 1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Democratic hold.
Dick Durbin (Democratic) 56.1%
Al Salvi (Republican) 40.7%
Steven H. Perry (Reform) 1.4%
Robin J. Miller (Libertarian) 1%
Chad Koppie (U.S. Taxpayers) 0.4%
James E. Davis (Natural Law) 0.3%
Iowa Harkin, TomTom Harkin Democratic 1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Tom Harkin (Democratic) 51.8%
Jim Ross Lightfoot (Republican) 46.7%
Sue Atkinson (Independent) 0.8%
Fred Gratzon (Natural Law) 0.3%
Joe Sulentic (Independent) 0.2%
Shirley E. Pena (Socialist Workers) 0.2%
Kansas Kassebaum, NancyNancy Kassebaum Republican 1978
1978 (Appointed)
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Republican hold.
Pat Roberts (Republican) 62.0%
Sally Thompson (Democratic) 34.4%
Mark S. Marney (Reform) 2.3%
Steven Rosile (Libertarian) 1.2%
Kentucky McConnell, MitchMitch McConnell Republican 1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Mitch McConnell (Republican) 55.5%
Steve Beshear (Democratic) 42.8%
Dennis L. Lacy (Libertarian) 0.7%
Patricia Jo Metten (Natural Law) 0.6%
Mac McElroy (U.S. Taxpayers) 0.4%
Louisiana Johnston, BennettBennett Johnston Democratic 1972
1972 (Appointed)
1978
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Democratic hold.
Mary Landrieu (Democratic) 50.1%
Woody Jenkins (Republican) 49.9%
Maine Cohen, WilliamWilliam Cohen Republican 1978
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Republican hold.
Susan M. Collins (Republican) 49.2%
Joseph E. Brennan (Democratic) 43.8%
John Rensenbrink (Green) 4%
William P. Clarke (U.S. Taxpayers) 3%
Massachusetts Kerry, JohnJohn Kerry Democratic 1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. John Kerry (Democratic) 52.2%
William Weld (Republican) 44.7%
Susan Gallagher (Conservative) 2.7%
Robert Stowe (Natural Law) 0.3%
Michigan Levin, CarlCarl Levin Democratic 1978
1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Carl Levin (Democratic) 58.4%
Ronna Romney (Republican) 39.9%
Kenneth L. Proctor (Libertarian) 1.0%
William Roundtree (Workers World) 0.3%
Joseph S. Mattingly (Natural Law) 0.3%
Martin P. McLaughlin (Socialist Equality) 0.2%
Minnesota Wellstone, PaulPaul Wellstone Democratic (DFL) 1990 Incumbent re-elected. Paul Wellstone (Democratic (DFL)) 50.3%
Rudy Boschwitz (Republican) 41.3%
Dean Barkley (Reform) 7%
Tim Davis (Grass Roots) 0.6%
Roy Ezra Carlton (Libertarian) 0.2%
Steve Johnson (Natural Law) 0.2%
Thomas A. Fiske (Socialist Workers) 0.1%
Mississippi Cochran, ThadThad Cochran Republican 1978
1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Thad Cochran (Republican) 71.0%
James Hunt (Democratic) 27.4%
Ted Weill (Independence) 1.6%
Montana Baucus, MaxMax Baucus Democratic 1978
1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Max Baucus (Democratic) 49.5%
Dennis Rehberg (Republican) 44.7%
Becky Shaw (Reform) 4.7%
Stephen Heaton (Natural Law) 1%
Nebraska Exon, JimJim Exon Democratic 1978
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
Chuck Hagel (Republican) 56.1%
Ben Nelson (Democratic) 41.7%
New Hampshire Smith, BobBob Smith Republican 1990
1990 (Appointed)
Incumbent re-elected. Bob Smith (Republican) 49.3%
Dick Swett (Democratic) 46.2%
Ken Blevens (Libertarian) 4.5%
New Jersey Bradley, BillBill Bradley Democratic 1978
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Democratic hold.
Robert Torricelli (Democratic) 52.7%
Dick Zimmer (Republican) 42.5%
Richard J. Pezzullo (Independent) 1.8%
Mary Jo Christian (Independent) 0.8%
Paul A. Woomer (Independent) 0.5%
Olga L. Rodriguez (Independent) 0.5%
Mark Wise (Independent) 0.5%
Wilburt Kornegay (Independent) 0.4%
Steven J. Baeli (Independent) 0.3%
New Mexico Domenici, PetePete Domenici Republican 1972
1978
1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Pete Domenici (Republican) 64.7%
Art Trujillo (Democratic) 29.8%
Abraham Guttman (Green) 4.4%
Bruce M. Bush (Libertarian) 1.1%
North Carolina Helms, JesseJesse Helms Republican 1972
1978
1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Jesse Helms (Republican) 52.6%
Harvey Gantt (Democratic) 45.9%
Ray Ubinger (Libertarian) 1.0%
J. Victor Pardo (Natural Law) 0.4%
Oklahoma Inhofe, JimJim Inhofe Republican 1994 (Special) Incumbent re-elected. Jim Inhofe (Republican) 56.7%
James Boren (Democratic) 40.1%
Bill Maguire (Independent) 1.3%
Agnes Marie Regier (Libertarian) 1.2%
Chris Nedbalek (Independent) 0.7%
Oregon Hatfield, MarkMark Hatfield Republican 1966
1972
1978
1984
1990
1996
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Republican hold.
Gordon H. Smith (Republican) 49.8%
Tom Bruggere (Democratic) 45.9%
Brent Thompson (Reform) 1.5%
Gary Kutcher (Green) 1.0%
Paul Mohn (Libertarian) 0.9%
Christopher Phelps (Socialist) 0.4%
Michael L. Hoyes (Natural Law) 0.3%
Rhode Island Pell, ClaiborneClaiborne Pell Democratic 1960
1966
1972
1978
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Democratic hold.
Jack Reed (Democratic) 63.3%
Nancy J. Mayer (Republican) 35%
Donald W. Lovejoy (Independent) 1.7%
South Carolina Thurmond, StromStrom Thurmond Republican 1954
1954 (Appointed)
1956 (Resigned)
1956 (Special)
1960
1966
1972
1978
1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Strom Thurmond (Republican) 53.4%
Elliot Close (Democratic) 44.0%
Richard T. Quillian (Libertarian) 1.1%
Peter J. Ashy (Reform) 0.8%
Annette C. Estes (Natural Law) 0.7%
South Dakota Pressler, LarryLarry Pressler Republican 1978
1984
1990
Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected.
Democratic gain.
Tim Johnson (Democratic) 51.3%
Larry Pressler (R) 48.7%
Tennessee Thompson, FredFred Thompson Republican 1994 (Special) Incumbent re-elected. Fred Thompson (Republican) 61.4%
J. Houston Gordon (Democratic) 36.8%
John Jay Hooker (Independent) 0.8%
Bruce Gold (Independent) 0.3%
Robert O. Watson (Independent) 0.3%
Greg Samples (Independent) 0.2%
Philip L. Kienlen (Independent) 0.1%
Texas Gramm, PhilPhil Gramm Republican 1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Phil Gramm (Republican) 54.8%
Victor Morales (Democratic) 43.9%
Michael Bird (Libertarian) 0.9%
John Huff (Natural Law) 0.4%
Virginia Warner, JohnJohn Warner Republican 1978
1984
1990
1996
Incumbent re-elected. John Warner (Republican) 52.5%
Mark Warner (Democratic) 47.4%
West Virginia Rockefeller, JayJay Rockefeller Democratic 1984
1990
Incumbent re-elected. Jay Rockefeller (Democratic) 76.6%
Betty Burks (Republican) 23.4%
Wyoming Simpson, Alan K.Alan K. Simpson Republican 1978
1979 (Appointed)
1984
1990
Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Republican hold.
Mike Enzi (Republican) 54.1%
Kathy Karpan (Democratic) 42.2%
W. David Herbert (Libertarian) 2.5%
Lloyd Marsden (Natural Law) 1.2%

Alabama[edit]

Alabama election
Alabama
← 1990
2002 →
  Jeff Sessions as a U.S. Senator in 1997.png No image.png
Nominee Jeff Sessions Roger Bedford
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 786,436 681,651
Percentage 52.5% 45.5%

96ALSenateCounties.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Howell Heflin
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Jeff Sessions
Republican

Incumbent Democrat Howell Heflin decided to retire. A 75-year-old conservative Democrat, who was re-elected in 1990 with over 60% remained to date the last member of the Democratic Party who won a Senate seat in Republican-turning Alabama (his colleague, Richard Shelby, elected twice as a Democrat, switched to Republican in 1994 and still remains in the Senate). Republican Jeff Sessions won the open seat, becoming just the second Republican U.S. Senator elected to represent Alabama since Reconstruction (Richard Shelby became a Republican in 1994, but he was elected as a Democrat).

In the 1968 presidential election, Alabama supported native son and American Independent Party candidate George Wallace over both Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. Wallace was the official Democratic candidate in Alabama, while Humphrey was listed as the "National Democratic".[1] In 1976, Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter from Georgia carried the state, the region, and the nation, but Democratic control of the region slipped after that.

Since 1980, conservative Alabama voters have increasingly voted for Republican candidates at the Federal level, especially in Presidential elections. By contrast, Democratic candidates have been elected to many state-level offices and, until 2010, comprised a longstanding majority in the Alabama Legislature.

June 4 Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Roger Bedford 141,360 44.77%
Democratic Glen Browder 91,203 28.89%
Democratic Natalie Davis 71,588 22.67%
Democratic Marilyn Q. Bromberg 11,573 3.67%
Total votes 315,724 100.00%
June 25 Democratic runoff results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Roger Bedford 141,747 61.59%
Democratic Glen Browder 88,415 38.41%
Total votes 230,162 100.00%
June 4 Republican primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Sessions 82,373 37.81%
Republican Sid McDonald 47,320 21.72%
Republican Charles Woods 24,409 11.20%
Republican Frank McRight 21,964 10.08%
Republican Walter D. Clark 18,745 8.60%
Republican Jimmy Blake 15,385 7.06%
Republican Albert Lipscomb 7,672 3.52%
Total votes 217,868 100.00%
June 25 Republican runoff results
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Sessions 81,681 59.26%
Republican Sid McDonald 56,156 40.74%
Total votes 137,837 100.00%
General election results
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jeff Sessions 786,436 52.45%
Democratic Roger Bedford 681,651 45.46%
Libertarian Mark Thornton 21,550 1.44%
Natural Law Charles Hebner 9,123 0.61%
Independent Write-ins 633 0.04%
Total votes 1,499,393 100.00%
Republican gain from Democratic

Alaska[edit]

Alaska election
Alaska
← 1990
2002 →
  Ted Stevens.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Ted Stevens Jed Whittaker
Party Republican Green
Popular vote 177,893 29,037
Percentage 76.71% 12.52%

 
Nominee Theresa Obermeyer
Party Democratic
Popular vote 24,133
Percentage 10.51%

U.S. Senator before election

Ted Stevens
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Ted Stevens
Republican

Incumbent Republican Ted Stevens ran for re-election to a fifth term. Stevens faced off against Democratic nominee Theresa Obermeyer, a former member of the Anchorage School Board,[2] and Green Party nominee Jed Whittaker, a commercial fisherman.

The race drew national attention for Obermeyer's erratic behavior: she blamed Stevens for her husband's failure to pass the bar exam and contended that he had passed the bar by fraud. She "trailed" him to campaign events, frequently wearing a prisoner's outfit and once dragging a ball and chain behind her. During the campaign, she was arrested and served 30 days in prison in California and Oregon for probation violations.[3]

Stevens was re-elected in an overwhelming landslide and Whittaker finished ahead of Obermeyer.

Open primary results[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Ted Stevens (Incumbent) 71,043 58.87%
Republican Dave W. Cuddy 32,994 27.34%
Democratic Theresa Obermeyer 4,072 3.37%
Green Jed Whittaker 3,751 3.11%
Democratic Joseph A. Sonneman 2,643 2.19%
Democratic Michael Beasley 1,968 1.63%
Democratic Henry J. Blake, Jr. 1,157 0.96%
Democratic Lawrence Freiberger 921 0.76%
Republican Charles E. McKee 842 0.70%
Democratic Frank Vondersaar 655 0.54%
Democratic Robert Alan Gigler 631 0.52%
Total votes 138,492 100.00%
Remnant of Whittaker's campaign bumper sticker, photographed on a light pole on South Cushman Street in Fairbanks in 2014. The bumper sticker read "Tired of Ted? Vote for Jed!".
United States Senate election in Alaska, 1996[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Ted Stevens (Incumbent) 177,893 76.71% +10.48%
Green Jed Whittaker 29,037 12.52%
Democratic Theresa Obermeyer 23,977 10.34% -21.85%
Write-ins 1,009 0.44%
Majority 148,856 64.19% +30.15%
Turnout 231,916
Republican hold Swing

Arkansas[edit]

Arkansas election
Arkansas
← 1990
2002 →
  Timothy Hutchinson, official Senate photo portrait.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Tim Hutchinson Winston Bryant
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 445,942 400,241
Percentage 52.7% 47.3%

No image.svg
County Results

U.S. Senator before election

David Pryor
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Tim Hutchinson
Republican

Incumbent Democrat David Pryor decided to retire. Republican Tim Hutchinson won the open seat.

Arkansas U.S. Senate Election 2002[6][7]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Tim Hutchinson 445,942 52.7%
Democratic Winston Bryant 400,241 47.3%

Colorado[edit]

Colorado election
Colorado
← 1990
2002 →
  Wayne Allard, official photo portrait 2.jpg Thomas L. Strickland official portrait.jpg
Nominee Wayne Allard Tom Strickland
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 750,325 677,600
Percentage 51.4% 45.7%

Colorado 2002 senate.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Hank Brown
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Wayne Allard
Republican

Incumbent Republican Hank Brown decided to retire instead of seeking a second term. Republican Congressman Wayne Allard won the open seat, beating Democrat Tom Strickland, attorney and former U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado.

Democratic primary results[8]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tom Strickland 87,294 66.13%
Democratic Gene Nichol 44,709 33.87%
Total votes 132,003 100.00%
Republican primary results[9]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Wayne Allard 115,064 56.83%
Republican Gale Norton 87,394 43.17%
Total votes 202,458 100.00%
General election results[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Wayne Allard 750,325 51.41% -4.27%
Democratic Tom Strickland 677,600 45.74% +4.08%
Natural Law Randy MacKenzie 41,620 2.85%
Write-ins 66 0.00%
Majority 82,715 5.67% -8.35%
Turnout 1,459,601
Republican hold Swing

Delaware[edit]

Delaware election
Delaware
← 1990
2002 →
  Joe Biden, official photo portrait 2-cropped.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Joe Biden Raymond Clatworthy
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 165,465 105,088
Percentage 60.0% 38.1%

Delaware Election Results by county, all Democrat.png
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Joe Biden
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Joe Biden
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat Joe Biden won re-election to a fifth term, beating Republican businessman Raymond Clatworthy.[11]

Republican primary results[12]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Raymond J. Clatworthy 18,638 82.24%
Republican Vance Phillips 3,307 14.59%
Republican Wilfred Plomis 717 3.17%
Total votes 22,662 100.00%
General election results[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Joe Biden (Incumbent) 165,465 60.04% -2.64%
Republican Raymond J. Clatworthy 105,088 38.13% +2.30%
Libertarian Mark Jones 3,340 1.21% -0.28%
Natural Law Jacqueline Kossoff 1,698 0.62%
Majority 60,377 21.91% -4.94%
Turnout 275,591
Democratic hold Swing

Georgia[edit]

Georgia election
Georgia (U.S. state)
← 1990
2002 →
  Cleland.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Max Cleland Guy Millner
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,103,993 1,073,969
Percentage 48.9% 47.5%

96GASenateCounties.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Sam Nunn
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Max Cleland
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat Sam Nunn decided to retire instead of seeking a fifth term. Republicans nominated Guy Millner, a multi-millionaire businessman who was also the unsuccessful candidate who ran against Zell Miller in the 1994 gubernatorial election. Millner emerged as the victor from a crowded 6-person primary in July 1996. However, Max Cleland, the Secretary of State of Georgia ran unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Despite being held by Democrats since 1852, the election for this seat became tightly contested between Cleland and Millner. It was the closest race for that seat since at least 1852. Nonetheless, Max Cleland defeated Guy Millner on November 5. Max Cleland narrowly edged out a victory with 1,103,993 votes (48.87%) to Guy Millner's 1,073,969 votes (47.54%) – a margin of 1.33%.

The Class 2 United States Senate seat had been reliably Democratic, with a member of that party holding it since 1852. Additionally, no Republican had ever held at seat since it was established in 1789. In fact, during the previous election, Sam Nunn was unanimously re-elected and defeated Mike Hicks by an almost 60% margin in 1984. Republican Paul Coverdell narrowly unseated Democrat Wyche Fowler in Georgia's other United States Senate seat in 1992. On October 9, 1995, 4-term incumbent Class 2 Senator Sam Nunn announced his retirement.[13] This left the seat open for the first time since 1972.

After the retirement of Sam Nunn, Democrats began seeking a successor for him. Eventually, Secretary of State of Georgia Max Cleland entered the race. Cleland was the only Democratic candidate to file for election, thus he became the nominee by default on July 9, 1996. During the primary, he received 517,697 votes – 100%.

Republicans also saw opportunity with an open Senate seat in Georgia. Six candidates filled to enter the Primary Election and become the Republican Nominee after July 9, 1996.

After the Republican Primary, Guy Millner emerged as the nominee. Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia, noted that defeated rival Johnny Isakson was more likely to win the moderate vote due to his pro-choice views on abortion. Several polls earlier that year showed Cleland defeating both Millner and Isakson. In contrast to Isakson's opinion, Guy Millner was opposed to abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. Johnny Isakson was later elected United States Senator after Zell Miller retired from his seat in 2004. Opponent Max Cleland quickly labeled Millner as an extremist, saying that "I think people in this state want to elect a moderate ... not an extremist, not an ideologue, and not somebody hung up on some ideological agenda." In response, Millner began campaigning on other issues to capture more moderate voters.[14]

On Election Day, Democratic nominee Max Cleland narrowly won against Republican Guy Millner. It was one of the closest United States Senate Elections in the history of Georgia. Cleland received 1,103,993 votes to Millner's 1,073,969 votes. Libertarian candidate Jack Cashin obtained 81,262 votes, while only 8 people voted for Independent Arlene Rubinstein.

General election results[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Max Cleland 1,103,993 48.87%
Republican Guy Millner 1,073,969 47.54%
Libertarian Jack Cashin 81,262 3.60%
Independent Arlene Rubinstein 8 0.00%
Majority 30,024 1.33%
Voter turnout  %

Idaho[edit]

Idaho election
Idaho
← 1990 November 4, 1996 2002 →
  Larry Craig official portrait.jpg Walt Minnick official photo.jpg
Nominee Larry Craig Walt Minnick
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 283,532 198,422
Percentage 57.0% 39.9%

No image.svg
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Larry Craig
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Larry Craig
Republican

Incumbent Larry Craig won re-election against Democrat Walt Minnick, businessman and former Nixon Administration official.

Democratic primary results[15]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Walt Minnick 34,551 100.00%
Total votes 34,551 100.00%
Republican primary results[16]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Larry Craig (Incumbent) 106,817 100.00%
Total votes 106,817 100.00%
General election results[17]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Larry Craig (Incumbent) 283,532 57.02% -4.27%
Democratic Walt Minnick 198,422 39.91% +1.20%
Independent Mary J. Charbonneau 10,137 2.04%
Natural Law Susan Vegors 5,142 1.03%
Majority 85,110 17.12% -5.47%
Turnout 497,233
Republican hold Swing

Illinois[edit]

Illinois election
Illinois
← 1990
2002 →
  Duroffpic.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Dick Durbin Al Salvi
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 2,384,028 1,728,824
Percentage 56.09% 40.67%

Illinois senatorial election, 1996.svg
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Paul Simon
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Dick Durbin
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat Paul Simon opted to retire rather than seek a third term. In the Democratic primary, Congressman Dick Durbin emerged victorious, while State Representative Al Salvi won the Republican primary. Though the election was initially anticipated to be close, Durbin defeated Salvi by a comfortable double-digit margin of victory, allowing him to win what would be the first of several terms in the Senate.

Democratic primary results[18]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Dick Durbin 512,520 64.87%
Democratic Pat Quinn 233,138 29.51%
Democratic Ronald F. Gibbs 17,681 2.24%
Democratic Jalil Ahmad 17,211 2.18%
Democratic Paul H. D. Park 9,505 1.20%
Total votes 790,055 100.00%
Republican primary results[18]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Al Salvi 377,141 47.64%
Republican Bob Kustra 342,935 43.32%
Republican Robert Marshall 43,937 5.55%
Republican Martin Paul Gallagher 17,276 2.18%
Republican Wayne S. Kurzeja 10,356 1.31%
Total votes 791,645 100.00%
United States Senate election in Illinois, 1996[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Dick Durbin 2,384,028 56.09% -8.98%
Republican Al Salvi 1,728,824 40.67% +5.74%
Reform Steven H. Perry 61,023 1.44%
Libertarian Robin J. Miller 41,218 0.97%
Constitution Chad N. Koppie 17,563 0.40%
Natural Law James E. Davis 13,838 0.33%
Write-ins 4,228 0.10%
Majority 655,204 15.41% -14.72%
Turnout 4,250,722
Democratic hold Swing

Iowa[edit]

Iowa election
Iowa
← 1990
2002 →
  Tom Harkin official portrait.jpg Jimrlightfoot.jpg
Nominee Tom Harkin Jim Ross Lightfoot
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 634,166 571,807
Percentage 51.81% 46.71%

U.S. Senator before election

Tom Harkin
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Tom Harkin
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat Tom Harkin sought re-election to a third term, and he was challenged by Congressman Jim Ross Lightfoot from Iowa's 3rd congressional district. Lightfoot had won the Republican primary against two opponents, while Harkin had won his primary uncontested, so both moved on to the general election, where they engaged in a toughly-fought campaign. Ultimately, Harkin was successful in his bid, and defeated Lightfoot, albeit by the thinnest margin of his career.

Democratic primary results[19]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tom Harkin (Incumbent) 98,737 99.19%
Democratic Write-ins 810 0.81%
Total votes 99,547 100.00%
Republican primary results[19]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Ross Lightfoot 101,608 61.48%
Republican Maggie Tinsman 40,955 24.78%
Republican Steve Grubbs 22,554 13.65%
Republican Write-ins 153 0.09%
Total votes 165,270 100.00%
United States Senate election in Iowa, 1996[20]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tom Harkin (Incumbent) 634,166 51.81% -2.66%
Republican James Ross Lightfoot 571,807 46.71% +1.30%
Independent Sue Atkinson 9,768 0.80%
Natural Law Fred Gratzon 4,248 0.35%
Independent Joe Sulentic 1,941 0.16%
Socialist Workers Shirley E. Pena 1,844 0.15%
Write-ins 280 0.02%
Majority 62,359 5.09% -3.96%
Turnout 1,224,054
Democratic hold Swing

Kansas[edit]

Kansas election
Kansas
← 1990
2002 →
  Pat Roberts.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Pat Roberts Sally Thompson
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 652,677 362,380
Percentage 62.0% 34.4%

Kansas Rep sweep excluding Wyan only.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Nancy Kassebaum
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Pat Roberts
Republican

Incumbent Republican Nancy Kassebaum decided to retire instead of seeking a fourth term. Republican Pat Roberts won the open seat, beating the Democratic Kansas State Treasurer Sally Thompson.

Term limits were an issue during the campaign; while Roberts said that he was not totally opposed to term limits, he was wary of limits that did not apply to current members of Congress, saying that the proposed limits should apply to everyone. While Thompson signed the national term limits pledge from the group Americans for Limited Terms, Roberts declined to do so, becoming the only major party candidate for the U.S. Senate in the 1996 elections to not sign the pledge.[21] However, he did say that "I plan only to serve two terms in the U.S. Senate."[22] In 2014, he was elected to a fourth term in office.

Democratic Party primary results[23]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Sally Thompson 121,476 100.00%
Total votes 121,476 100.00%
Republican primary results[24]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Pat Roberts 245,411 78.21
Republican Tom Little 25,052 7.98%
Republican Tom Oyler 23,266 7.42%
Republican Richard L. Cooley 20,060 6.39%
Total votes 313,789 100.00%
General election results[25]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Pat Roberts 652,677 62.02% -11.57%
Democratic Sally Thompson 362,380 34.44% +8.05%
Reform Mark S. Marney 24,145 2.29%
Libertarian Steven Rosile 13,098 1.25%
Majority 290,297 27.59% -19.61%
Turnout 1,052,300
Republican hold Swing

Kansas (Special)[edit]

Kansas special election
Kansas
← 1992
1998 →
  Sam Brownback official portrait 3.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Sam Brownback Jill Docking
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 574,021 461,344
Percentage 53.9% 43.3%

U.S. Senator before election

Sheila Frahm
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Sam Brownback
Republican

Incumbent Republican Sheila Frahm, who was recently appointed to the seat, was defeated in the primary by Sam Brownback, who went on to win the general election over Jill Docking, businesswoman and daughter-in-law of former Kansas Governor Robert Docking. Brownback would remain in office until 2011, when he resigned his seat to run for Governor of Kansas in 2010, which he eventually won.

Democratic primary results[26]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jill Docking 127,012 74.39%
Democratic Joan Finney 43,726 25.61%
Total votes 170,738 100.00%
Republican primary results[27]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Sam Brownback 187,914 54.82%
Republican Sheila Frahm (Incumbent) 142,487 41.57%
Republican Christina Campbell-Cline 12,378 3.61%
Total votes 342,779 100.00%
General election results[28]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Sam Brownback 574,021 53.91% -8.78%
Democratic Jill Docking 461,344 43.33% +12.30%
Reform Donald R. Klaassen 29,351 2.76%
Majority 112,677 10.58% -21.08%
Turnout 1,064,716
Republican hold Swing

Kentucky[edit]

Kentucky election
Kentucky
← 1990
2002 →
  Mitch-McConnell-110th.jpg KY Governor Steve Beshear.jpg
Nominee Mitch McConnell Steve Beshear
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 724,794 560,012
Percentage 55.5% 42.9%

KY-USA 1996 Senate Results by County 2-color.svg
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Mitch McConnell
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Mitch McConnell
Republican

Incumbent Republican Mitch McConnell won re-election to a third term with a 12.6% margin of victory over Steve Beshear, former Lieutenant Governor. McConnell's landslide victory occurred at the same time President Bill Clinton was re-elected to a second term, winning by a 7.5% margin nationwide, but carrying Kentucky by a 0.9% margin.

Democratic primary results[29]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steve Beshear 177,859 66.38%
Democratic Tom Barlow 64,235 23.97%
Democratic Shelby Lanier 25,856 9.65%
Total votes 267,950 100.00%
Republican primary results[30]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mitch McConnell (Incumbent) 88,620 88.59%
Republican Tommy Klein 11,410 11.41%
Total votes 72,373 100.00%

In 1996, Beshear started out trailing against McConnell, with an early general election poll placing McConnell ahead of Beshear 50% to 32%.[31] The campaign ultimately became quite harsh, with the McConnell campaign sending "Hunt Man," a take off of Chicken George dressed in "the red velvet coat, jodhpurs, black riding boots and black helmet of a patrician fox hunter." This was done as a means of criticizing Beshear's membership in a fox hunting club in Lexington, and undercut the Beshear campaign's message that McConnell was a Republican in the mold of Newt Gingrich and that Beshear was the only friend of the working class in the race.[32] Beshear did not make much traction with the electorate during the campaign. By October 1996, Beshear had narrowed the gap between himself and McConnell slightly, with McConnell leading Beshear 50% to 38%.[33]

General election results[34]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Mitch McConnell (Incumbent) 724,794 55.45% +3.27%
Democratic Steve Beshear 560,012 42.85% -4.97%
Libertarian Dennis L. Lacy 8,595 0.66%
Natural Law Patricia Jo Metten 8,344 0.64%
U.S. Taxpayers Mac Elroy 5,284 0.40%
Write-ins 17 0.00%
Majority 164,782 12.61% +8.23%
Turnout 1,307,046
Republican hold Swing

Louisiana[edit]

Louisiana election
Louisiana
← 1990
2002 →
  Mary Landrieu official portrait.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Mary Landrieu Woody Jenkins
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 852,945 847,157
Percentage 50.17% 49.83%

LASen96Counties.png
Parish Results

U.S. Senator before election

J. Bennett Johnston
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Mary Landrieu
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat J. Bennett Johnston chose to retire. After the jungle primary election, state treasurer Mary Landrieu went into a runoff election with State Representative Woody Jenkins of Baton Rouge, a former Democrat who had turned Republican two years earlier. She prevailed by 5,788 votes out of 1.7 million cast, the narrowest national result of the thirty-three races for the U.S. Senate that year and one of the closest election margins in Louisiana history. At the same time, Democrat Bill Clinton carried Louisiana by a considerable margin of 927,837 votes to 712,586 cast for Republican Bob Dole.

The multi-candidate field for the primary included Democratic state Attorney General Richard Ieyoub and the former Ku Klux Klan leader, David Duke, running again as a Republican. Among the minor candidates was Peggy Wilson, an at-large member of the New Orleans City Council, and Troyce Guice, who had sought the same seat thirty years earlier when it was held by the veteran Senator Allen J. Ellender.

Louisiana United States Senate jungle primary election, September 21, 1996[35]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Woody Jenkins 322,244 26.23%
Democratic Mary Landrieu 264,268 21.51%
Democratic Richard Ieyoub 250,682 20.41%
Republican David Duke 141,489 11.52%
Republican Jimmy Hayes 71,699 5.84%
Republican Bill Linder 58,243 4.74%
Republican Chuck McMains 45,164 3.68%
Republican Peggy Wilson 31,877 2.60%
Democratic Troyce Guice 15,277 1.24%
Independent Nicholas J. Accardo 10,035 0.82%
Independent Arthur D. "Jim" Nichols 7,894 0.64%
Democratic Sadie Roberts-Joseph 4,660 0.38%
Independent Tom Kirk 1,987 0.16%
Independent Darryl Paul Ward 1,770 0.14%
Independent Sam Houston Melton, Jr. 1,270 0.10%
Voter turnout 100.00%%
Louisiana United States Senate election, 1996[36]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Mary Landrieu 852,945 50.17% -3.78%
Republican Woody Jenkins 847,157 49.83% +6.35%
Majority 5,788 0.34% -10.13%
Turnout 1,700,102
Democratic hold

It believed[by whom?] that the Democratic stronghold of New Orleans pushed Landrieu over the finish line. Jenkins refused to concede and charged massive election fraud, orchestrated by the Democratic political organization of New Orleans, provided Landrieu's narrow margin of victory. He took his case to the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate and petitioned for Landrieu's unseating pending a new election. In a hearing, carried live by C-SPAN, the Senate Rules Committee in a party-line 8-7 vote agreed to investigate the charges. The decision briefly placed Landrieu's status in the U.S. Senate under a cloud.

Only a month into the probe, however, it emerged that Thomas "Papa Bear" Miller, a detective hired by Jenkins to investigate claims of fraud, had coached witnesses to claim they had participated in election fraud. Three witnesses claimed Miller had paid them to claim that they had either cast multiple votes for Landrieu or drove vans of illegal voters across town. The others told such bizarre tales that FBI agents dismissed their claims out of hand. It also emerged that Miller had several felony convictions on his record, including a guilty plea to attempted murder. The Democrats walked out of the probe in protest, but the probe continued.[37]

The investigation dragged on for over ten months, angering the Democrats and exacerbating partisan friction in the day-to-day sessions of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee to which Landrieu was assigned as a freshman member of the 105th Congress. Finally, in October 1997, the Rules Committee concluded that while there were major electoral irregularities, none of them were serious enough to burden Louisiana with a new election at that stage. It recommended that the results stand.

The Landrieu-Jenkins contest was not the only U.S. Senate election in 20th century Louisiana in which the results were hotly disputed. Future Senator John H. Overton claimed the renomination and hence reelection of Senator Joseph E. Ransdell was tainted by fraud. In 1932, Senator Edwin S. Broussard claimed that his primary defeat by Overton was fraudulent. In both cases, the Senate seated the certified winners, Ransdell and Overton, respectively.

Maine[edit]

Maine election
Maine
← 1990
2002 →
  Susan Collins official photo.jpg JosephBrennan.jpg
Nominee Susan Collins Joseph E. Brennan
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 298,422 266,226
Percentage 49.18% 43.88%

Mainegovelection1990.png
County results

U.S. Senator before election

William Cohen
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Susan Collins
Republican

Incumbent Republican William Cohen decided to retire instead of seeking a fourth term. To replace him, Congressman and former Governor of Maine Joseph E. Brennan won the Democratic primary while political consultant and 1994 nominee for Governor of Maine Susan Collins won the Republican primary. A competitive general election ensued, but Collins ultimately won out over Brennan, keeping the seat in the Republican column. With Collins' election to the Senate in 1996, Maine became only the second state after California to have two sitting women senators.

Democratic primary results[38]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Joseph Brennan 48,335 56.68%
Democratic Sean Faircloth 21,204 24.87%
Democratic Richard A. Spencer 10,236 12.00%
Democratic Jean Hay Bright 4,524 5.31%
Democratic Jerald Leonard 939 1.10%
Democratic Write-ins 35 0.04%
Total votes 85,273 100.00%
Republican primary results[39]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Susan Collins 53,339 55.50%
Republican W. John Hathaway 29,792 31.00%
Republican Robert A. G. Monks 12,943 13.47%
Republican Write-ins 33 0.03%
Total votes 96,107 100.00%
United States Senate election in Maine, 1996[40]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Susan Collins 298,422 49.18% -12.16%
Democratic Joseph E. Brennan 266,226 43.88% +5.24%
Independent John C. Rensenbrink 23,441 3.86%
Constitution William P. Clarke 18,618 3.07%
Write-ins 70 0.01%
Majority 32,196 5.31% -17.39%
Turnout 606,777
Republican hold Swing

Massachusetts[edit]

Massachusetts election
Massachusetts
← 1990
2002 →
  JohnKerry.jpg William Weld 90s.jpg
Nominee John Kerry Bill Weld
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,334,135 1,143,120
Percentage 52.2% 44.7%

1996 MA Senate.png
Results by town. Red indicates towns carried by William Weld, blue indicates towns carried by John Kerry.

U.S. Senator before election

John Kerry
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

John Kerry
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat John Kerry won re-election to a third term over the Republican Governor of Massachusetts,

On November 29, 1995, Governor Bill Weld announced his candidacy for the Senate seat occupied by former U.S. Senator Kerry with a formal announcement on March 27, 1996. Kerry's previous two opponents in 1984 and 1990 had no prior elected office experience. The election was one of many competitive senate elections in 1996.

At the federal level, Democrats controlled both U.S. Senate seats and eight of ten U.S. House seats. No Republican won a senate election since 1972. In the 1984 presidential election, President Ronald Reagan won 49 of 50 states, with Massachusetts being his worst performance (excluding Walter Mondale's home-state of Minnesota. Reagan carried the state with just 51% of the vote. In 1994, incumbent Democrat Ted Kennedy won re-election against businessman Mitt Romney with just 58% of the vote, the lowest percentage since his first senate election campaign in 1962.

The first debate between Weld and Kerry was held in Faneuil Hall on April 8 with a second debate held on June 3. A third debate was held at the Emerson Majestic Theater on July 2. The Weld and Kerry campaigns agreed to eight debates and a spending cap of $6.9 million negotiated at Senator Kerry's Beacon Hill home on August 7; Senator Kerry later mortgaged his house to raise funds in October. On the same day the spending cap was agreed upon, Governor Weld jumped into the Charles River. He later spoke at the 1996 Republican National Convention on August 14 before debating U.S. Senator Kerry again on August 19. Senator Kerry spoke at the 1996 Democratic National Convention and debated Governor Weld again on September 16.

General election results[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Kerry 1,334,135 52.20%
Republican William Weld 1,143,120 44.72%
Conservative Susan C. Gallagher 70,007 2.74%
Natural Law Robert C. Stowe 7,169 0.28%
All others 1,511 0.06%
Voter turnout  %

Michigan[edit]

Michigan election
Michigan
← 1990
2002 →
  Carl Levin official portrait.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Carl Levin Ronna Romney
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 2,195,738 1,500,106
Percentage 58.4% 39.9%

U.S. Senator before election

Carl Levin
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Carl Levin
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat Carl Levin won re-election to a fourth term over Ronna Romney radio talk show host and former daughter-in-law of Michigan governor George W. Romney.

General election results[41]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Carl Levin (Incumbent) 2,195,738 58.4%
Republican Ronna Romney 1,500,106 39.9%
Libertarian Kenneth L. Proctor 36,911 1.0%
Workers World William Roundtree 12,235 0.3%
Natural Law Joseph S. Mattingly 11,306 0.3%
Socialist Martin P. McLaughlin 5,975 0.1%

Minnesota[edit]

Minnesota election
Minnesota
← 1990
2002 →
  Paul Wellstone.jpg RudyBoschwitz.jpg
Nominee Paul Wellstone Rudy Boschwitz
Party DFL Republican
Popular vote 1,098,430 901,194
Percentage 50.3% 41.3%

  Dean Barkley.jpg
Nominee Dean Barkley
Party Reform
Popular vote 152,328
Percentage 7.0%

96MNSenateCounties.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Paul Wellstone
DFL

Elected U.S. Senator

Paul Wellstone
DFL

Incumbent Democrat Paul Wellstone won re-election to a second term.[42]

1996 Minnesota U.S. Senate Primary Election (Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party)[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
DFL Paul Wellstone 194,699 86.41%
DFL Richard Franson 16,465 7.31%
DFL Ed Hansen 9,990 4.43%
DFL Oloveuse S. Savior 4,180 1.86%
Voter turnout  %
1996 Minnesota U.S. Senate Primary Election (Republican Party)[43]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Rudy Boschwitz 158,678 80.59%
Republican Stephen Young 16,324 8.29%
Republican Bert McKasy 12,711 6.46%
Republican Monti Moreno 6,536 3.32%
Republican John J. Zeleniak 2,655 1.35%
Voter turnout  %

Boschwitz filed to run a rematch against Wellstone. The incumbent was an unapologetic liberal.[44] Rudy released ads accusing Wellstone of being "embarrassingly liberal" and calling him "Senator Welfare".[45] Boschwitz accused Wellstone of supporting flag burning, a move that some believe possibly backfired.[46] Like the 1990 election, Wellstone had a massive grassroots campaign which inspired college students, poor people and minorities to get involved in politics for the very first time. Prior to that accusation, Boschwitz had significantly outspent Wellstone on campaign advertising and the race was closely contested, but Wellstone went on to beat Boschwitz by a nine-point margin in a three way race (Dean Barkley received 7%).[47] Despite losing, Barkley would end up serving the last few months of this term after being appointed to fill the seat after Wellstone died in a plane crash 11 days before the 2002 elections.

United States Senate election in Minnesota, 1996
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Paul Wellstone (Incumbent) 1,098,430 50.32%
Republican Rudy Boschwitz 901,194 41.28%
Reform Dean Barkley 152,328 6.98%
Grassroots Tim Davis 14,139 0.65%
Libertarian Roy Ezra Carlton 5,428 0.25%
Resource Party Howard Hanson 4,381 0.20%
Natural Law Steve Johnson 4,321 0.20%
Socialist Workers Thomas A. Fiske 1,554 0.07%
Independent Write-In 1,130 0.05%
Total votes 2,182,905 100.00%

Mississippi[edit]

Mississippi election
Mississippi
← 1990
2002 →
  Thad Cochran official photo.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Thad Cochran Bootie Hunt
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 624,154 240,647
Percentage 71.0% 27.4%

U.S. Senator before election

Thad Cochran
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Thad Cochran
Republican

Incumbent Republican Thad Cochran won re-election to a fourth term.

Mississippi U.S. Senate Election, 1996[48]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Thad Cochran 624,154 71.0%
Democratic Bootie Hunt 240,647 27.4%
Independent Ted Weill 13,861 1.6%

Montana[edit]

Montana election
Montana
← 1990
2002 →
  Max S Baucus.jpg Denny rehberg.jpg
Nominee Max Baucus Denny Rehberg
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 201,935 182,111
Percentage 49.56% 44.69%

96MTSenateCounties.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Max Baucus
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Max Baucus
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat Max Baucus, who was first elected in 1978 and was re-elected in 1984 and 1990, ran for re-election. He was unopposed in the Democratic primary, and moved on to the general election, where he faced a stiff challenge in Denny Rehberg, the Lieutenant Governor of Montana and the Republican nominee. Despite Bob Dole's victory over Bill Clinton and Ross Perot in the state that year in the presidential election, Baucus managed to narrowly win re-election over Rehberg to secure a fourth term in the Senate.

Democratic Party primary results[49]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Max Baucus (Incumbent) 85,976 100.00%
Total votes 85,976 100.00%
Reform Party Primary results[49]
Party Candidate Votes %
Reform Becky Shaw 930 68.03%
Reform Webb Sullivan 437 31.97%
Total votes 1,367 100.00%
Republican Primary results[49]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Denny Rehberg 82,158 73.81%
Republican Ed Borcherdt 14,670 13.18%
Republican John K. McDonald 14,485 13.01%
Total votes 111,313 100.00%
United States Senate election in Montana, 1996[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Max Baucus (Incumbent) 201,935 49.56% -18.57%
Republican Denny Rehberg 182,111 44.69% +15.31%
Reform Becky Shaw 19,276 4.73%
Natural Law Stephen Heaton 4,168 1.02%
Majority 19,824 4.86% -33.88%
Turnout 407,490
Democratic hold Swing

Nebraska[edit]

Nebraska election
Nebraska
← 1990
2002 →
  Chuck Hagel official photo.jpg Ben Nelson official photo.jpg
Nominee Chuck Hagel Ben Nelson
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 379,933 281,904
Percentage 56.1% 41.7%

96NESenateCounties.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

J. James Exon
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Chuck Hagel
Republican

Incumbent Democrat J. James Exon decided to retire instead of seeking a fourth term. Republican businessman Chuck Hagel won the open seat by 14 points over Democrat Ben Nelson, Governor of Nebraska.

Democratic primary results[50]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ben Nelson 93,140 97.00%
Democratic Write-ins 2,882 3.00%
Total votes 96,022 100.00%
Republican primary results[51]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Chuck Hagel 112,953 62.24%
Republican Don Stenberg 67,974 37.46%
Republican Write-ins 544 0.30%
Total votes 181,471 100.00%
General election results[52]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Chuck Hagel 379,933 56.14% +15.21%
Democratic Ben Nelson 281,904 41.65% -17.25%
Libertarian John DeCamp 9,483 1.40%
Natural Law Bill Dunn 4,806 0.71%
Write-ins 663 0.10%
Majority 98,029 14.48% -3.49%
Turnout 676,958
Republican gain from Democratic Swing

New Hampshire[edit]

New Hampshire election
New Hampshire
← 1990
2002 →
  Robert C Smith.jpg Richard Swett.jpg
Nominee Bob Smith Richard Swett
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 242,304 227,397
Percentage 49.2% 46.1%

U.S. Senator before election

Bob Smith
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Bob Smith
Republican

Incumbent Republican Bob Smith won re-election to a second term. Smith had established himself as the most conservative Senator from the Northeast, and Bill Clinton's coattails nearly caused his defeat. On the night of the election many American media networks incorrectly projected that Swett had won.[53]

General election results[54]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bob Smith 242,304 49.2%
Democratic Richard Swett 227,397 46.1%
Libertarian Ken Blevens 22,265 4.5%

New Jersey[edit]

New Jersey election
New Jersey
← 1990
2002 →
  Robert Torricelli.jpg Richard Alan Zimmer portrait.gif
Nominee Robert Torricelli Dick Zimmer
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,519,328 1,227,817
Percentage 52.7% 42.6%

NewJersey-2004-by county.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Bill Bradley
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Robert G. Torricelli
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat Bill Bradley decided to retire instead of seeking a fourth term. Democratic Congressman Robert G. Torricelli won the election, beating Republican Congressman Dick Zimmer.

Zimmer was the front-runner for the GOP nomination from the start, getting endorsements from Republican leaders across the state, including Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. Both DuHaime, a pro-life candidate, and La Rossa, a pro-gun candidate, attempted to portray Mr. Zimmer as too liberal for the party. But Zimmer treated the two challengers as if they did not exist.[55]

Republican Primary Results[56]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dick Zimmer 144,121 68.0%
Republican Richard DuHaime 42,155 19.9%
Republican Dick La Rossa 25,608 12.1%

Democratic U.S. Representative Robert Torricelli easily won his party primary unopposed. Republican U.S. Representative Dick Zimmer won his party's nomination easily. Torricelli defeated Zimmer in the general election by 10 points, a margin less than President Bill Clinton, who carried New Jersey by almost 18%. Independents made up 4.8% of the vote.

Like other Democratic candidates around the country, Torricelli tried to portray "Zig-Zag Zimmer" as a clone of House Speaker Newt Gingrich and flip flopping on his positions on issues like Medicare, gun control and an increase in the minimum wage during the campaign. Zimmer tried to cast his opponent as a tax-and-spend liberal with ethical flaws. Military morale was also a part of the campaign.

General election results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Robert G. Torricelli 1,519,328 52.7%
Republican Dick Zimmer 1,227,817 42.6%
Independent Richard J. Pezzullo 50,971 1.8%
Independent Paul A. Woomer 15,183 0.5%
Independent Olga L. Rodriguez 14,319 0.5%
Independent Mark Wise 13,683 0.5%
Independent Wilburt Kornegay 11,107 0.4%
Independent Steven J. Baeli 7,749 0.3%
Majority
Voter turnout  %

New Mexico[edit]

New Mexico election
New Mexico
← 1990
2002 →
  Pete Domenici official portrait 2.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Pete Domenici Art Trujillo
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 357,171 164,356
Percentage 64.7% 29.8%

New mexico 96.png
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Pete Domenici
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Pete Domenici
Republican

Incumbent Republican Pete Domenici won re-election to a fifth term.

Democratic primary results[57]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Art Trujillo 84,721 70.55%
Democratic Eric Treisman 35,363 29.45%
Total votes 120,084 100.00%
Republican primary results[58]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Pete Domenici (Incumbent) 69,394 100.00%
Total votes 69,394 100.00%
General election results[59]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Pete Domenici (Incumbent) 357,171 64.73% -8.19%
Democratic Art Trujillo 164,356 29.78% +2.75%
Green Abraham J. Gutmann 24,230 4.39%
Libertarian Bruce M. Bush 6,064 1.10%
Majority 192,815 34.94% -10.93%
Turnout 551,821
Republican hold Swing

North Carolina[edit]

North Carolina election
North Carolina
← 1990
2002 →
  JesseHelms.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Jesse Helms Harvey Gantt
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,345,833 1,173,875
Percentage 52.6% 45.9%

U.S. Senator before election

Jesse Helms
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Jesse Helms
Republican

The election was a rematch of the 1990 election: between the Republican incumbent Jesse Helms and the Democratic nominee Harvey Gantt. Helms won re-election to a fifth and final term by a slightly wider margin than in 1990.

1996 North Carolina U.S. Senate Democratic primary election[60]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Harvey Gantt 308,337 52.40% +14.88%
Democratic Charles Sanders 245,297 41.68% N/A
Democratic Ralph McKinney 34,829 5.92% N/A
Turnout 588,463

Jesse Helms won the Republican Party's nomination unopposed.

1996 North Carolina U.S. Senate election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Jesse Helms (Incumbent) 1,345,833 52.64% +0.08%
Democratic Harvey Gantt 1,173,875 45.92% -1.49%
Libertarian Ray Ubinger 25,396 0.99% N/A
Natural Law Victor Pardo 11,209 0.44% N/A
Turnout 2,556,456

Oklahoma[edit]

Oklahoma election
Oklahoma
← 1994
2002 →
  Jim Inhofe official photo.jpg James Boren.jpg
Nominee Jim Inhofe James Boren
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 670,610 474,162
Percentage 56.7% 40.1%

U.S. Senator before election

Jim Inhofe
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Jim Inhofe
Republican

Incumbent Republican Jim Inhofe won re-election to his first full term over Democratic businessman James Boren.[61]

General election results[62]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Jim Inhofe 670,610 56.7%
Democratic Jim Boren 474,162 40.1%
Independent Bill Maguire 15,092 1.3%
Libertarian Agnes Marie Regier 14,595 1.2%
Independent Chris Nedbalek 8,691 0.7%

Oregon[edit]

Oregon election
Oregon
← 1990
2002 →
  Gordon Smith official portrait.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Gordon Smith Tom Bruggere
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 667,336 624,370
Percentage 49.8% 45.9%

Oregon Senate 1996.svg
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Mark Hatfield
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Gordon H. Smith
Republican

Incumbent Republican Mark Hatfield decided to retire after thirty years in the Senate. Oregon State Senate President Gordon H. Smith, who had run for the Senate earlier that year, won the Republican primary, while businessman Tom Bruggere won a contested Democratic primary. The contest between Smith and Bruggere was one of the toughest that year, but ultimately, Smith was able to keep the seat in the Republican column and defeated Bruggere by a narrow margin.

Democratic primary results[63]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Tom Bruggere 151,288 49.61%
Democratic Harry Lonsdale 76,059 24.94%
Democratic Bill Dwyer 30,871 10.12%
Democratic Jerry Rust 27,773 9.11%
Democratic Anna Nevenich 16,827 5.52%
Democratic Write-ins 2,150 0.70%
Total votes 304,968 100.00%
Republican primary results[63]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gordon H. Smith 224,428 78.06%
Republican Lon Mabon 23,479 8.17%
Republican Kirby Brumfield 15,744 5.48%
Republican Jeff Lewis 13,359 4.65%
Republican Robert J. Fenton 8,958 3.12%
Republican Write-ins 1,532 0.53%
Total votes 287,500 100.00%

This was the second Senatorial race for Gordon Smith in 1996; he had previously lost to Ron Wyden in the special election to fill Bob Packwood's seat.

Both candidates spent heavily from their own resources. Bruggere won the Democratic nomination with $800,000 of his own money in the primary race,[64] and was one of 134 candidates for the U.S. Congress to finance their own elections in excess of $50,000 in that cycle.[65] Smith had already spent $2.5 million of his own money earlier that same year in an unsuccessful effort to defeat Democrat Ron Wyden in the 1996 special election to replace Bob Packwood, who had resigned.[64]

Shortly after their respective primary victories, the rivals met for a highly publicized lunch, and agreed to run issue-oriented campaigns. However, in the final weeks of the campaign, Bruggere supporters ran advertisements alleging a pollution problem with Smith's frozen foods business, which the Smith campaign characterized as a breach of that agreement.[64] A Boston Globe profile highlighted their similarities as corporate candidates with minimal political experience.[64]

In the general election race, most Oregon daily newspapers endorsed Smith over Bruggere.[66] The race was close, with neither side claiming victory for several days after the election, as absentee ballots were tallied. After all votes were counted, Smith won by 4 percentage points.[67] It was the last of the 1996 Senate elections to be determined; overall, the Republicans gained two seats in the Senate, increasing their majority from 53 to 55 seats.[68]

United States Senate election in Oregon, 1996[69]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Gordon H. Smith 677,336 49.80% -3.89%
Democratic Tom Bruggere 624,370 45.90% -0.29%
Reform Brent Thompson 20,381 1.50%
Pacific Green Gary Kutcher 14,193 1.04%
Libertarian Stormy Mohn 12,697 0.93%
Socialist Christopher Phelps 5,426 0.40%
Natural Law Michael L. Hoyes 4,425 0.33%
Write-ins 1,402 0.10%
Majority 52,966 3.89% -3.60%
Turnout 1,360,230
Republican hold Swing

Oregon (Special)[edit]

Oregon special election
Oregon
← 1992 January 30, 1996 1998 →
  Ron Wyden official portrait.jpg Gordon Smith official portrait.jpg
Nominee Ron Wyden Gordon H. Smith
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 571,739 553,519
Percentage 47.8% 46.3%

96ORSenSpecialElectionCounties.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Vacant

Elected U.S. Senator

Ron Wyden
Democratic

A special election was held on January 30, 1996 to fill the seat vacated by Republican Bob Packwood, who had resigned from the Senate due to sexual misconduct allegations.

In the primaries held on December 5, 1995, Democratic U. S. Representative Ron Wyden and Republican President of the Oregon State Senate Gordon H. Smith were nominated. Wyden then defeated Smith in the general election.[70] Smith would win the regularly-scheduled election to the Senate later that year and serve alongside Wyden until 2009.

Democratic primary results[71]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ron Wyden 212,532 49.46%
Democratic Peter DeFazio 187,411 43.61%
Democratic Anna Nevenic 11,201 2.61%
Democratic Michael Donnelly 8,340 1.94%
Democratic Write-in Candidates 7,959 1.85%
Democratic J.J.T. Van Dooremolen 2,279 0.53%
Majority 25,121 5.85%
Total votes 429,722 100.00%
Republican primary results[72]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Gordon H. Smith 246,060 63.63
Republican Norma Paulus 98,158 25.38
Republican Jack Roberts 29,687 7.68
Republican John Thomas 3,272 0.85
Republican Brian Boquist 3,228 0.84
Republican Tony G. Zangaro 1,638 0.42
Republican Sam Berry 1,426 0.37
Republican Jeffrey Brady 1,160 0.3
Republican Valentine Christian 943 0.24
Republican Robert J. Fenton 632 0.16
Republican Lex Loeb 508 0.13
Majority 147,902 38.25%
Total votes 386,712 100
General election results[73]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ron Wyden 571,739 47.78%
Republican Gordon H. Smith 553,519 46.26%
American Independent Karen Shilling 25,597 2.14%
Libertarian Gene Nanni 15,698 1.31%
Independent (United States) Write-In Candidates 14,958 1.25%
Socialist Vickie Valdez 7,872 0.66%
Pacific Green Lou Gold 7,225 0.60%
Majority 18,220 1.52%
Total votes 1,196,608 100.0%
Democratic gain from Vacant

Rhode Island[edit]

Rhode Island election
Rhode Island
← 1990 November 4, 1996 2002 →
  Jack Reed official portrait.jpg
Nominee Jack Reed Nancy Mayer
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 230,676 127,368
Percentage 63.3% 35.0%

Rhode Island Election Results by County, all Democratic.svg
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Claiborne Pell
Democratic

Elected U.S. Senator

Jack Reed
Democratic

Incumbent Democrat Claiborne Pell decided to retire. Democratic nominee Jack Reed won the open seat.

Democratic primary results[74]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Jack Reed 59,336 86.13%
Democratic Donald Gill 9,554 13.87%
Total votes 68,890 100.00%
Republican primary results[75]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Nancy Mayer 11,600 77.47%
Republican Thomas R. Post, Jr. 2,302 15.37%
Republican Theodore Leonard 1,072 7.16%
Total votes 14,974 100.00%
General election results[76]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jack Reed 230,676 63.31% +1.48%
Republican Nancy Mayer 127,368 34.96% -3.21%
Independent Donald W. Lovejoy 6,327 1.74%
Majority 103,308 28.35% +4.69%
Turnout 364,371
Democratic hold Swing

South Carolina[edit]

South Carolina election
South Carolina
← 1990
2002 →
  Strom Thurmond.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Strom Thurmond Elliott Springs Close
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 620,626 511,226
Percentage 53.4% 44.0%

U.S. Senator before election

Strom Thurmond
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Strom Thurmond
Republican

Popular incumbent Republican Strom Thurmond won re-election against Democratic challenger Elliott Springs Close.

The South Carolina Democratic Party held their primary on June 11, 1996. Elliott Springs Close, a 43-year-old political novice from Columbia, entered the Democratic primary and faced token opposition from black photographer Cecil J. Williams. Close was a wealthy heir of a textile business, a brother-in-law of President Clinton's chief of staff Erskine Bowles, who styled himself as a fiscal conservative and a social moderate. Even though he proclaimed himself as such, he took positions that would align himself with the liberal wing of the Democratic party. Close would not have voted to balance the budget, he agreed with the Don't ask, don't tell policy of the military initiated by Clinton and he supported continuing welfare as a federal entitlement program.

Democratic Primary
Candidate Votes %
Elliott Springs Close 102,953 62.1%
Cecil J. Williams 62,783 37.9%

The South Carolina Republican Party held their primary on June 11, 1996 and the contest pitted 93-year-old incumbent Senator Strom Thurmond against two relatively unknown candidates. Secretary of State James Miles was the only Republican statewide official who had not endorsed Strom Thurmond and it was rumored that he was considering entering the primary. Thurmond's press secretary, Mark Goodin, criticized Miles for not endorsing Thurmond and told those who contributed to Miles campaign fund that they were contributing to a contest against Thurmond, not the state's other Senator, Democrat Fritz Hollings. Miles soon endorsed Thurmond which left Harold G. Worley, a state representative from Myrtle Beach, and Charlie Thompson, an educator from Charleston, as the only opponents to Thurmond's election. Worley spent $600,000 of his own money and based his campaign almost solely on Thurmond's age. He questioned Thurmond's mental ability to make decisions and whether he had the capacity to fill out a full term, which would put Thurmond at one-hundred years old. Nevertheless, Thurmond cruised to a primary victory and Worley only carried Horry County.

Republican Primary
Candidate Votes %
Strom Thurmond 132,145 60.6%
Harold G. Worley 65,666 30.1%
Charlie Thompson 20,185 9.3%

The race between Thurmond and Close boiled down to whether Thurmond could retain the affection of voters who had re-elected him over and over or whether Close could convince the voters that Thurmond's age was an impediment to effective service for the state. Thurmond therefore adopted a non-confrontational approach to the campaign. He chose to not debate Close, not only because he had not debated an opponent since Olin D. Johnston in the 1950 Senate election, but also because it would only emphasize the 50-year age difference between the candidates. Thurmond energetically traversed the state greeting the voters and pointed out to them that with his experience, he could more effectively serve the state than a political neophyte.

Close ran television advertisements that highlighted the age issue by declaring that although Thurmond had admirably served the state for over fifty years, it was time for someone new to represent South Carolina. He poured almost a million dollars into his campaign, but his campaign never remained focused. For instance, trying to not appear too wealthy, Close traded his fancy foreign car for a Cadillac. He acquired a speeding ticket in the Cadillac and a newspaper criticized him for driving a luxury automobile. Frustrated, Close then switched his Cadillac for a Buick. Another instance of his jumbled campaign came when said that his family's textile factories did not lay off an employee during the Great Depression. Yet a week after this statement, three mills were closed and 850 employees were out of work.

By the day of the election on November 5, polls had shown that the voters thought it was time for Thurmond to retire, but they did not want to throw him out of office. Close spent almost a million dollars of his fortune to defeat Thurmond and his decision to raise a million dollars from outside sources was attacked by the Thurmond campaign of a lack of confidence by Close in his own campaign. Thurmond spent a little more than $2.6 million on the race and was said to have "dodged the bullet" by The State reporter Lee Bandy after his victory.[77] The campaign aides of Thurmond stated he could have been defeated had either former Governor Richard Riley or 5th district congressman John M. Spratt, Jr. run against him.

South Carolina U.S. Senate Election, 1996
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Strom Thurmond 620,326 53.4% -10.8%
Democratic Elliott Springs Close 511,226 44.0% +11.5%
Libertarian Richard T. Quillian 12,994 1.1% -0.7%
Reform Peter J. Ashy 9,741 0.8% +0.8%
Natural Law Annette C. Estes 7,697 0.7% +0.7%
No party Write-Ins 141 0.0% -0.1%
Majority 109,100 9.4% -22.3%
Turnout 1,162,125 64.0% +8.8%
Republican hold

South Dakota[edit]

South Dakota election
South Dakota
← 1990
2002 →
  Tim Johnson official portrait, 2009.jpg Larry Pressler.jpg
Nominee Tim Johnson Larry Pressler
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 166,533 157,954
Percentage 51.3% 48.7%

96SDSenateCounties.PNG
County results

U.S. Senator before election

Larry Pressler
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Tim Johnson
Democratic

Incumbent Republican Larry Pressler ran for re-election to a fourth term, but narrowly lost to Democratic nominee Tim Johnson by 9,000 votes.

Pressler and Johnson swapped leads in their own polls all year. The two candidates also swapped charges. Pressler said that Johnson was too liberal for the state, while Johnson contended that Pressler was beholden to the out-of-state interests that have fattened his campaign coffers.

Seeking a fourth term, Pressler noted his seniority; his close ties to his longtime Senate colleague, Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole; and, most emphatically, the power he wielded as the chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Yet the massive changes in telecommunications law that he shepherded through the Senate since becoming chairman last year proved to be a mixed blessing politically for Pressler.

Political action committees related to industries affected by the legislation were generous donors to his campaign, and Pressler assured South Dakota voters that, over the long run, the bill will lower prices and provide jobs. But both telephone and cable television rates had gone up in South Dakota that year, leading Pressler to pull an ad stating that phone rates were going down.

Despite this apparently negative short-term effect, Pressler said that Johnson's votes against the "telecom" bill, along with his opposition to the GOP's seven-year balanced-budget plan and changes in farm policy, proved Johnson votes inconsistently with his moderate rhetoric.

"You say one thing in South Dakota and vote liberal all the time in Washington," intoned an announcer in a Pressler TV ad. In another ad, which Pressler called "the essence of my campaign," the senator himself called Johnson a liberal.

Johnson countered that Pressler's vote for the deficit- reducing budget-reconciliation package was a blow against the interests of farmers and seniors, two groups that helped fuel Pressler's victories in the past. Johnson also warned that farmers will be more vulnerable in years of poor yield under the new farm law. The so-called Freedom To Farm Act received mixed reviews from major agriculture groups in the state. The results were 51% for Johnson and 49% for Pressler.

General election results
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Tim Johnson 166,533 51.32% +6.25%
Republican Larry Pressler (Incumbent) 157,954 48.68% -3.71%
Majority 8,579 2.64% -4.68%
Turnout 324,487
Democratic gain from Republican Swing

Tennessee[edit]

Tennessee election
Tennessee
← 1994
2002 →
  Fred Thompson.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Fred Thompson Houston Gordon
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,091,554 654,937
Percentage 61.37% 36.82%

U.S. Senator before election

Fred Thompson
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Fred Thompson
Republican

Republican Senator Fred Thompson ran for re-election to a full six-year term. Thompson defeated the Democratic challenger, Covington lawyer Houston Gordon in the general election.

United States Senate election in Tennessee, 1996[78]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Fred Thompson (Incumbent) 1,091,554 61.37% +0.93%
Democratic Houston Gordon 654,937 36.82% -1.79%
Independent John Jay Hooker 14,401 0.81%
Independent Bruce Gold 5,865 0.33%
Independent Robert O. Watson 5,569 0.31%
Independent Greg Samples 4,104 0.23%
Independent Philip L. Kienlen 2,173 0.12%
Write-ins 61 0.00%
Majority 436,617 24.55% +2.71%
Turnout 1,778,664
Republican hold

Texas[edit]

Texas election
Texas
← 1990
2002 →
  PhilGramm.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Phil Gramm Victor Morales
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 3,027,680 2,428,776
Percentage 54.8% 43.9%

Img.TX sen 1996.png
County Results

U.S. Senator before election

Phil Gramm
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Phil Gramm
Republican

Incumbent Republican Phil Gramm won re-election to a third term over Democratic Navy veteran Victor Morales.

Morales, who never ran for public office before, pulled a major upset in the primary by defeated three politicians: U.S. Congressman John Wiley Bryant, U.S. Congressman Jim Chapman, and former State Supreme Court litigator John Odam. In the March run-off, he defeated Bryant with 51% of the vote. He became the first minority in Texas history to become a United States Senate nominee from either major party. Despite having no staff, raising only $15,000, and not accepting any special interest money he obtained 2.5 million votes.[79]

Gramm previously ran for President earlier in the year, but lost to fellow U.S. Senator Bob Dole in the Republican presidential primary. Gramm was the heavy favorite. A September poll showed Gramm leading 50% to 40%. A late October poll showed him leading with 53% to 31%.[80]

Exit Polls showed that Gramm performed well with Anglos (68% to 31%), while Morales won African Americans (79% to 19%) and Latinos (79% to 20%) respectively.

General election results[81]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Phil Gramm 3,027,680 54.8%
Democratic Victor M. Morales 2,428,776 43.9%
Libertarian Michael Bird 51,516 0.9%
Natural Law John Huff 19,469 0.4%

Virginia[edit]

Virginia election
Virginia
← 1990
2002 →
Turnout 50.2% (voting eligible)[82]
  Warner(R-VA).jpg Mark Warner during the Commissioning Ceremony for the VIRGINIA (SSN 774).jpg
Nominee John Warner Mark Warner
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,235,743 1,115,981
Percentage 52.5% 47.4%

Virginia Senate Election Results by County, 1996.svg
U.S. Senate election results map. Red denotes counties and cities won by John Warner. Blue denotes those won by Mark Warner.

U.S. Senator before election

John Warner
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

John Warner
Republican

Incumbent Republican John Warner won re-election to a fourth term.

Democratic convention vote[83]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Mark Warner 626 66.53%
Democratic Leslie Byrne 301 31.99%
Democratic Nancy B. Spannaus 14 1.49%
Total votes 941 100.00%

John Warner, a moderate Republican who held this Senate seat from 1979, remained a popular and powerful political figure. A former United States Secretary of the Navy, he was at this time Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.

He easily won renomination, despite opposition by a number of conservative Republicans, who distrusted him because of his moderate positions (Warner is pro-choice, pro-gun control and refused to support 1994 Senate nominee Oliver North due to his role in the Iran-Contra Affair).

Warner was endorsed by such notable figures as Bob Dole, George H.W. Bush, and Colin Powell, while Miller was endorsed by the NRA.[84]

Republican primary results[85]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Warner (Incumbent) 323,520 65.55%
Republican James C. Miller III 170,015 34.45%
Total votes 493,535 100.00%

The two Warners (no relation) competed in one of the closest Senate elections in Virginia history. The incumbent, who was a moderate Republican, was very popular and didn't even have a major opponent in his last re-election bid in 1990. Although Mark Warner was relatively unknown, he became one of John Warner's strongest challengers. The Democrat self-financed his campaign and ended up outspending the Republican. In October, the Democrat outspent the incumbent 5-1.[86]

The incumbent had to compete in a primary against someone who was more conservative because he decided to endorse an independent in the 1994 U.S. Senate election, opting not to endorse the controversial Republican nominee, Oliver North. Despite this, North did endorse John Warner in the 1996 election.[87] In the general election, the incumbent called the Democrat a "robber baron," "Carpetbagger," and a "Connecticut Yankee" who raised money from outside the state.[88][89][90] Mark Warner tried to compete in the Southern part of the state, which is traditionally Republican territory. He earned the endorsement from the Reform Party of Virginia.[91]

In June, the incumbent was leading 58%-24%.[92] On September 19, the incumbent led 54%-34%.[93]

United States Senate election in Virginia, 1996[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican John Warner (Incumbent) 1,235,744 52.48% -28.43%
Democratic Mark Warner 1,115,982 47.39% +47.39%
Write-ins 2,989 0.13% +0.81%
Majority 119,762 5.09% -57.67%
Turnout 2,354,715
Republican hold Swing

Mark Warner lost the parts of the state that are outside the three largest metropolitan areas, 51%-49%, a very impressive result for a Democrat in this heavily Republican territory. However, John Warner’s strength among moderates enabled him to carry Northern Virginia 55%-45%, which got him over the top.[94]

West Virginia[edit]

Incumbent Democrat Jay Rockefeller was elected to a third term.

Wyoming[edit]

Wyoming election
Wyoming
← 1990
2002 →
  Mike Enzi official portrait.jpg
Nominee Mike Enzi Kathy Karpan
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 114,116 89,103
Percentage 54.1% 42.2%

U.S. Senator before election

Alan K. Simpson
Republican

Elected U.S. Senator

Mike Enzi
Republican

Incumbent Republican Alan K. Simpson decided to retire. Republican nominee Mike Enzi won the open seat.

Democratic primary results[95]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Kathy Karpan 32,419 86.07%
Democratic Mickey Kalinay 5,245 13.93%
Total votes 37,664 100.00%
Republican primary results[96]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mike Enzi 27,056 32.47%
Republican John Barrasso 24,918 29.90%
Republican Curt Meier 14,739 17.69%
Republican Nimi McConigley 6,005 7.21%
Republican Kevin Meenan 6,000 7.20%
Republican Kathleen P. Jachkowski 2,269 2.72%
Republican Brian E. Coen 943 1.13%
Republican Cleveland B. Holloway 874 1.05%
Republican Russ Hanrahan 524 0.63%
Total votes 83,328 100.00%
General election results[97]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Mike Enzi 114,116 54.06% -9.87%
Democratic Kathy Karpan 89,103 42.21% +6.15%
Libertarian David Herbert 5,289 2.51%
Natural Law Lloyd Marsden 2,569 1.22%
Majority 25,013 11.85% -16.02%
Turnout 211,077
Republican hold Swing

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]