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United States Senate elections, 1996: Wikis


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1994 United States 1998
United States Senate elections, 1996
34 seats in the United States Senate
November 5, 1996
Majority party Minority party
Trent Lott official portrait.jpg Tom Daschle, official Senate photo.jpg
Leader Trent Lott Tom Daschle
Party Republican Democratic
Leader's seat Mississippi South Dakota
Last election 53 seats 47 seats
Seats won 55 45
Seat change +2 -2
1996 Senate election map.svg
     Republican hold      Republican pickups      Democratic hold      Democratic pickup

Incumbent Majority Leader
Trent Lott

Majority Leader-elect
Trent Lott

The U.S. Senate election, 1996 was an election for United States Senate which coincided with the re-election of Bill Clinton as president. It followed the major Republican gains of 1994. Because of the staggered nature of the Senate, some of the alignment shift of 1994 carried over to this year, even though the Republicans lost seats in the House. The Republicans made a net gain of two seats by capturing the open seats in Alabama, Arkansas, and Nebraska, but Democrat Tim Johnson defeated incumbent Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD).


Results summary

Summary of the 1996 United States Senate election results
Parties Breakdown Total Seats Popular Vote
Up Elected Not Up 1994 1996 +/- Vote %
  Republican Party 19 21 53 55 +2
  Democratic Party 15 13 47 45 -2
Total 34 34 66 100 100 - 100.0%
Source: Election Statistics - Office of the Clerk

Notable Races


Democratic Gains

  • South Dakota: Three-term Sen. Larry Pressler (R-SD) faced a tough challenge from Rep. Tim Johnson (D-SD). Johnson would defeat Pressler by 2 points and become the only candidate to defeat an incumbent in this year's election cycle.

Republican Gains

  • Alabama: Sen. Howell Heflin (D-AL), 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-AR) 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-AR) 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-NE). 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).

Senate contests in 1996

Winning candidates in bold
Democratic pickups in Blue
Republican pickups in Red

State Incumbent Party Status Candidates
Alabama Howell Heflin Democratic Retired: Republican victory Jeff Sessions (Republican) 52.5%
Roger Bedford (Democratic) 45.5%
Mark Thornton (Libertarian) 1.4%
Charles R. Hebner (Natural Law) 0.6%
Alaska Ted Stevens Republican Re-elected, 76.7% Jeff Whittaker (Green) 12.5%
Theresa Obermeyer (Democratic) 10.3%
Arkansas David Pryor Democratic Retired: Republican victory Tim Hutchinson (Republican) 52.7%
Winston Bryant (Democratic) 47.3%
Colorado Hank Brown Republican Retired: Republican victory Wayne Allard (Republican) 51.4%
Tom Strickland (Democratic) 45.7%
Randy MacKenzie (Natural Law) 2.9%
Delaware Joe Biden Democratic Re-elected, 60% Raymond J. Clatworthy (Republican) 38.1%
Mark Jones (Libertarian) 1.2%
Jacqueline Kossoff (Natural Law) 0.6%
Georgia Sam Nunn Democratic Retired: Democratic victory Max Cleland (Democratic) 48.9%
Guy Millner (Republican) 47.5%
John Gregory Cashin (Libertarian) 3.6%
Idaho Larry E. Craig Republican Re-elected, 57.0% Walt Minnick (Democratic) 39.9%
Mary J. Charbonneau (Independent) 2.0%
Susan Vegors (Natural Law) 1.0%
Illinois Paul Simon Democratic Retired: Democratic victory Richard J. 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 Tom Harkin Democratic Re-elected, 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 Nancy Kassebaum Republican Retired: Republican victory Pat Roberts (Republican) 62.0%
Sally Thompson (Democratic) 34.4%
Mark S. Marney (Reform) 2.3%
Steven Rosile (Libertarian) 1.2%
Kansas1 Sheila Frahm Republican Defeated in Primary: Republican victory Sam Brownback (Republican) 53.9%
Jill Docking (Democratic) 43.3%
Donald R. Klaassen (Reform) 2.8%
Kentucky Mitch McConnell Republican Re-elected, 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 Bennett Johnston Jr. Democratic Retired: Democratic victory Mary Landrieu (Democratic) 50.1%
Woody Jenkins (Republican) 49.9%
Maine William Cohen Republican Retired: Republican victory Susan M. Collins (Republican) 49.2%
Joe Brennan (Democratic) 43.8%
John Rensenbrink (Green) 4%
William P. Clarke (U.S. Taxpayers) 3%
Massachusetts John Kerry Democratic Re-elected, 52.2% William Weld (Republican) 44.7%
Susan Gallagher (Conservative) 2.7%
Robert Stowe (Natural Law) 0.3%
Michigan Carl Levin Democratic Re-elected, 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 Paul Wellstone Democratic (DFL) Re-elected, 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 Thad Cochran Republican Re-elected, 71.0% James Hunt (Democratic) 27.4%
Ted Weill (Independence) 1.6%
Montana Max Baucus Democratic Re-elected, 49.5% Dennis Rehberg (Republican) 44.7%
Becky Shaw (Reform) 4.7%
Stephen Heaton (Natural Law) 1%
Nebraska J. James Exon Democratic Retired: Republican victory Chuck Hagel (Republican) 57.4%
Ben Nelson (Democratic) 42.6%
New Hampshire Bob Smith Republican Re-elected, 49.3% Dick Swett (Democratic) 46.2%
Ken Blevens (Libertarian) 4.5%
New Jersey Bill Bradley Democratic Retired: Democratic victory 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 Pete Domenici Republican Re-elected, 64.7% Art Trujillo (Democratic) 29.8%
Abraham Guttman (Green) 4.4%
Bruce M. Bush (Libertarian) 1.1%
North Carolina Jesse Helms Republican Re-elected, 52.6% Harvey Gantt (Democratic) 45.9%
Ray Ubinger (Libertarian) 1.0%
J. Victor Pardo (Natural Law) 0.4%
Oklahoma Jim Inhofe Republican Re-elected, 56.7% James Boren (Democratic) 40.1%
Bill Maguire (Independent) 1.3%
Agnes Marie Regier (Libertarian) 1.2%
Chris Nedbalek (Independent) 0.7%
Oregon Mark Hatfield Republican Retired: Republican victory 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 Claiborne Pell Democratic Retired: Democratic victory John F. Reed (Democratic) 63.3%
Nancy Mayer (Republican) 35%
Donald W. Lovejoy (Independent) 1.7%
South Carolina Strom Thurmond Republican Re-elected, 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 Larry Pressler Republican Defeated, 48.7% Tim Johnson (Democratic) 51.3%
Tennessee Fred Thompson Republican Re-elected, 61.4% 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 Phil Gramm Republican Re-elected, 54.8% Victor Morales (Democratic) 43.9%
Michael Bird (Libertarian) 0.9%
John Huff (Natural Law) 0.4%
Virginia John Warner Republican Re-elected, 52.5% Mark Warner (Democratic) 47.4%
West Virginia Jay Rockefeller Democratic Re-elected, 76.6% Betty Burkes (Republican) 23.4%
Wyoming Alan K. Simpson Republican Retired: Republican victory Michael B. Enzi (Republican) 54.1%
Joyce Jansa Corcoran (Democratic) 42.2%
W. David Herbert (Libertarian) 2.5%
Lloyd Marsden (Natural Law) 1.2%

1 Special election due to resignation of Bob Dole to pursue the presidency -- next regular election held in 1998
2 Smith also lost in 1996, to Democrat Ron Wyden, in a January special election.

See also

Senate composition before and after elections

104th Congress Senate Composition   105th Congress Senate Composition
Color Key:   = Republican   = Democratic


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