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2000 United States 2004
United States Senate elections, 2002
Class II (34 of the 100) seats in the United States Senate
November 5, 2002
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 49 seats 51 seats (including 1 Independent)
Seats won 51 49 (including 1 Independent)
Seat change +2 -2
Popular vote 21,428,784 18,665,605
Percentage 51.3% 44.7%
Swing +3.7% -0.7%
2002 Senate election map.svg
     Republican hold      Republican pickups      Democratic hold      Democratic pickup

Incumbent Majority Leader
Tom Daschle
Democratic

Majority Leader-elect
Bill Frist
Republican

The 2002 United States Senate election featured a series of fiercely contested elections that resulted in a victory for the Republican Party, which gained two seats and thus a narrow majority from the Democratic Party in the United States Senate. Senators who were elected in 1996, known as Senate Class 2, were seeking reelection or retiring. The election was held on November 5, 2002.

The Democrats had originally hoped to do well, since the economic boom from the 1990s had been slowing, and the incumbent party historically loses seats in midterm elections, particularly when economic news is bad. In addition, four veteran Republicans and no Democrats had retired this year, and open seats are always viewed as the most competitive. However, the open seats were all in the South, and the Republicans found fairly strong candidates who were able to hold all four. Together with gains made in the House of Representatives, it was one of the few mid-term elections in the last one hundred years in which the party in control of the White House gained Congressional seats (the others were 1902, 1934, and 1998).

Even worse for the Democrats, the elections were held just a little under fourteen months after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Thus the elections were heavily overshadowed by the war on terror, the impending war with Iraq, and Paul Wellstone's death. This gave Republicans a key advantage, as the focus of the campaign was on foreign, rather than domestic, issues.

Contents

Results summary

Summary of the 2002 United States Senate election results
Parties Breakdown Total Seats Popular Vote Total Candidates
Up Elected Not Up 2000 2002 +/- Vote % General1
  Republican Party 20 22 29 49 51 +2 21,428,784 51.312% 37
  Democratic Party 14 12 36 50 48 -2 18,665,605 44.695% 32
  Independent - - 1 1 1 0 405,982 0.972% 9
  Libertarian Party - - - - - - 755,872 1.810% 20
Constitution Party - - - - - - 32,185 0.077% 3
Independence Party - - - - - - 46,135 0.110% 2
  Green Party - - - - - - 129,475 0.310% 8
Reform Party - - - - - - 175,107 0.419% 3
Socialist Workers Party - - - - - - 2,702 0.006% 1
Other parties - - - - - - 75,339 0.180% 10
Write-in - - - - - - 44,576 0.107% -
Total 34 34 66 100 100 - 41,761,762 100.0% 125
Source: Election Statistics - Office of the Clerk

1 Includes candidates from Louisiana's General Election, not run-off. Totals do not include participating voters who declined to cast a vote for U.S. Senate.

Notable races

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Democratic gains

  • Arkansas: Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), who was personally unpopular, perhaps due to divorcing his wife and marrying a young staffer, was defeated by Democratic challenger Mark Pryor, Arkansas Attorney General and the son of a popular former Senator and Governor.

Republican gains

  • Georgia: Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), a Vietnam War veteran and triple amputee, was defeated by Representative Saxby Chambliss in a tough campaign marked by attacks on Cleland's stance on a Department of Homeland Security. Even though Cleland was a combat veteran, Chambliss won the support of the VFW.
  • Missouri: Sen. Jean Carnahan (D-MO) had been appointed to the Senate after her husband, Mel Carnahan, had narrowly won the 2000 election posthumously. How much Mel Carnahan's victory had been due to sympathy following his death and/or high disapproval of his opponent, John Ashcroft, was unclear, but his wife was unable to hold the seat, losing narrowly to former Congressman Jim Talent.
  • Minnesota: Sen. Paul Wellstone (D-MN), in the middle of a tough fight against former St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman, died in a plane crash less than two weeks before the election. Most observers expected that this would lead to a sympathy boost for his replacement, liberal stalwart and former Vice President Walter Mondale, but the Democrats received negative press after Wellstone's funeral was marked by political speeches, and Coleman won a close race.

Democratic holds

  • South Dakota: The Democratic Party also invested heavily in South Dakota to keep Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) in office by 500 votes over Republican challenger John Thune, who accused Johnson and Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) of pushing liberal policies that were different from the promises they made to South Dakota voters. Thune's strategy would work successfully when he defeated Daschle himself in 2004.
  • New Jersey: Democratic incumbent Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) was dogged by scandal, and eventually quit the race so that the party could replace him with a better candidate, retired Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), who went on to win. Republicans challenged this late replacement of a weak candidate, but were not successful in the courts.
  • Louisiana: Republicans ran several candidates at once against incumbent Mary Landrieu (D-LA), hoping to push her vote below 50% and force a runoff in December (according to Louisiana law). They did force a runoff, but Republican Suzanne Haik Terrell narrowly lost the runoff.

Republican holds

  • New Hampshire: Incumbent Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) had previously quit and rejoined the Republican party in a dispute over his candidacy in the 2000 presidential election, and Republican leaders pushed the candidacy of Congressman John E. Sununu. He defeated Smith in the primary and went on to defeat Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, the retiring governor, in the general election. In this Senate race, local Republican officials violated election laws by trying to jam the phones of the Democrat's "Get Out The Vote" efforts; the officials went to prison in a case that reverberated into 2006 and may have been a factor when Sununu lost to Shaheen in their 2008 rematch.

Senate contests in 2002

Winning candidate in bold
Republican pickups in Red
Democratic pickup in Blue
Retiring Senator in Gray

State Incumbent Party Status Opposing Candidates
Alabama Jeff Sessions Republican Re-elected, 58.6% Susan Parker (Democrat) 39.8%
Jeff Allen (Libertarian) 1.5%
Alaska Ted Stevens Republican Re-elected, 78% Frank J. Vondersaar (Democrat) 11%
Jim Sykes (Green) 8%
Jim Dore (AI) 3%
Leonard Karpinski (Libertarian) 1%
Arkansas Tim Hutchinson Republican Defeated, 46.1% Mark Pryor (Democrat) 53.9%
Colorado Wayne Allard Republican Re-elected, 50.7% Tom Strickland (Democrat) 45.8%
Douglas “Dayhorse” Campbell (Constitution) 1.5%
Rick Stanley (Libertarian) 1.5%
John Heckman (Concerns of People) 0.5%
Delaware Joe Biden Democratic Re-elected, 58.2% Raymond J. Clatworthy (Republican) 40.8%
Maurice Barros (IPD) 0.4%
Raymond T. Buranello (Libertarian) 0.4%
Robert E. Mattson (Natural Law) 0.2%
Georgia Max Cleland Democratic Defeated, 45.9% Saxby Chambliss (Republican) 52.7%
Claude Thomas (Libertarian) 1.4%
Idaho Larry Craig Republican Re-elected, 65% Alan Blinken (Democrat) 33%
Donovan Bramwell (Libertarian) 2%
Illinois Richard Durbin Democratic Re-elected, 60.3% Jim Durkin (Republican) 38%
Steven Burgauer (Libertarian) 1.6%
Iowa Tom Harkin Democratic Re-elected, 54.2% Greg Ganske (Republican) 43.8%
Tim Harthan (Green) 1.1%
Richard J. Moore (Libertarian) 0.9%
Kansas Pat Roberts Republican Re-elected, 82.5% Steven A. Rosile (Libertarian) 9.1%
George Cook (Reform) 8.4%
Kentucky Mitch McConnell Republican Re-elected, 64.7% Lois Combs Weinberg (Democrat) 35.3%
Louisiana Mary Landrieu Democratic Re-elected in runoff, 51.7% Suzanne Haik Terrell (Republican) 48.3%
Maine Susan Collins Republican Re-elected, 58.4% Chellie Pingree (Democrat) 41.6%
Mass John Kerry Democratic Re-elected, 72.3% Michael E. Cloud (Libertarian) 16.6%
Blank/Scattering 9.6%
Randall Forsberg, Write-in 1.1%
Other 0.3%
Michigan Carl Levin Democratic Re-elected, 60.6% Andrew Raczkowski (Republican) 37.9%
Eric Borregard (Green) 0.8%
John S. Mangopoulos (Reform) 0.4%
Doug Dern (Natural Law) 0.3%
Minnesota Paul Wellstone Democratic-Farmer-Labor Deceased: Republican victory Norm Coleman (Republican) 49.5%
Walter Mondale (DFL) 47.3%
Jim Moore (Independence) 2%
Paul Wellstone (DFL) 0.5%
Ray Tricomo (Green) 0.4%
Miro Drago Kovatchevich (Constitution) 0.1%
Miss Thad Cochran Republican Re-elected, 85.6% Shawn O'Hara (Reform) 15.4%
Missouri1 Jean Carnahan Democratic Defeated, 48.7% Jim Talent (Republican) 49.8%
Tamara A. Millay (Libertarian) 1%
Daniel Romano (Green) 0.6%
Montana Max Baucus Democratic Re-elected, 62.7% Mike Taylor (Republican) 31.7%
Stan Jones (Libertarian) 3.2%
Bob Kelleher (Green) 2.3%
Nebraska Chuck Hagel Republican Re-elected, 82.8% Charlie A. Matulka (Democrat) 14.6%
John J. Graziano (Libertarian) 1.5%
Phil Chase (Independent) 1.1%
NH Bob Smith Republican Defeated in primary: Republican victory John E. Sununu (Republican) 50.8%
Jeanne Shaheen (Democrat) 46.4%
Ken Blevens (Libertarian) 2.2%
NJ Robert Torricelli Democratic Withdrew: Democratic victory Frank Lautenberg (Democrat) 53.9%
Doug Forrester (Republican) 44%
Ted Glick (Green) 1.2%
Elizabeth Macron (Libertarian) 0.6%
Norman E. Wahner (NJ Conservative) 0.3%
Gregory Pason (Socialist) 0.1%
NM Pete Domenici Republican Re-elected, 65% Gloria Tristani (Democrat) 35%
NC Jesse Helms Republican Retired: Republican victory Elizabeth Dole (Republican) 53.6%
Erskine Bowles (Democrat) 45%
Sean Haugh (Libertarian) 1.5%
Oklahoma Jim Inhofe Republican Re-elected, 57.3% David Walters (Democrat) 36.3%
James Germalic (Independent) 6.4%
Oregon Gordon Smith Republican Re-elected, 56.2% Bill Bradbury (Democrat) 39.6%
Dan Fitzgerald (Libertarian) 2.4%
Lon Mabon (Constitution) 1.7%
RI Jack Reed Democratic Re-elected, 78.4% Robert Tingle (Republican) 21.6%
SC Strom Thurmond Republican Retired: Republican victory Lindsey Graham (Republican) 54.4%
Alex Sanders (Democrat) 44.2%
Ted Adams (Constitution) 0.8%
Victor Kocher (Libertarian) 0.6%
South Dakota Tim Johnson Democratic Re-elected, 49.6% John Thune (Republican) 49.5%
Kurt Evans (Libertarian) 0.9%
Tenn Fred Thompson Republican Retired: Republican victory Lamar Alexander (Republican) 54%
Bob Clement (Democrat) 44%
Texas Phil Gramm Republican Retired: Republican victory John Cornyn (Republican) 55.3%
Ron Kirk (Democrat) 43.3%
Scott Jameson (Libertarian) 0.8%
Roy H. Williams (Green) 0.6%
Virginia John Warner Republican Re-elected, 82.6% Nancy Spannaus (Independent) 9.7%
Jacob G. Hornberger (libertarian) 7.1%
WV Jay Rockefeller Democratic Re-elected, 63.1% Jay Wolfe (Republican) 36.9%
Wyoming Mike Enzi Republican Re-elected, 73% Joyce Jansa Corcoran (Democrat) 27%

1 special election due to death of Mel Carnahan.

Senate composition before and after elections

107th Congress Senate Composition   108th Congress Senate Composition
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
Color Key:   = Republican   = Democratic   = Independence Party of Minnesota   = Independent

Note:

Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) died shortly before the 2002 election. On November 4, Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura appointed Dean Barkley of the Minnesota Independence Party to serve the remaining few months of Wellstone's term.

References

  • Robert M. Sanders; "How Environmentally-Friendly Candidates Fared in the Congressional Elections of 2002: A Time of Green Anxiety?" International Social Science Review, Vol. 79, 2004

External links

See also


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