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United States elections, 2010


United States elections, 2010

2010 United States elections
Midterm elections
Election day November 2
Senate elections
Seats contested 34 seats of Class III and 3 special elections
Net change Republican +6
2010 Senate election results map
2010 Senate election results map
House elections
Net change Republican +63
2010 House election results map
2010 House election results map
Gubernatorial elections
Seats contested 38
Net change Republican +6
2010 Gubernatorial election results map
2010 Gubernatorial election results map
  Democratic hold
  Democratic pickup
  Independent pickup
  Republican pickups
  Republican hold

The 2010 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 2, 2010. During this midterm election year, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate were contested in this election along with 38 state and territorial governorships, 46 state legislatures (except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia),[1] four territorial legislatures and numerous state and local races. The election occurred in the middle of Democratic President Barack Obama's first term in office.

Approximately 82.5 million people voted.[2] The Democratic Party suffered massive defeats in many national and state level elections, with many seats switching to Republican Party control. Although the President's party usually loses congressional, statewide and local seats in a midterm elections, the 2010 midterm election season featured some of the biggest losses since the Great Depression. The Republican Party gained 63 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, recapturing the majority, and making it the largest seat change since 1948 and the largest for any midterm election since the 1938 midterm elections. The Republicans gained six seats in the U.S. Senate, expanding its minority, and also gained 680 seats in state legislative races,[3][4][5] to break the previous majority record of 628 set by Democrats in the post-Watergate elections of 1974.[5] This left Republicans in control of 26 state legislatures, compared to the 15 still controlled by Democrats. After the election, Republicans took control of 29 of the 50 State Governorships.

The 2010 midterm election is also the third consecutive midterm election held in a president's first term where Republicans picked up seats across both houses of congress. It was also the second consecutive midterm election where party control in the House of Representatives changed hands.

Political analysts in October 2010 predicted sweeping Republican gains this election, but despite a reported "enthusiasm gap" between likely Republican and Democratic voters,[6] turnout increased relative to the last U.S. midterm elections without any significant shift in voters' political identification.[7] The swaying views of self-declared independent voters, however, were largely responsible for the shift from Democratic to Republican gains.[8]


  • Issues 1
  • Federal elections 2
    • Congressional elections 2.1
      • Senate elections 2.1.1
      • House of Representatives elections 2.1.2
  • State elections 3
    • Gubernatorial elections 3.1
    • Other state-wide officer elections 3.2
    • State legislative elections 3.3
  • Local elections 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


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

The fiscally-focused and quasi-libertarian Tea Party movement was a vocal force in mobilizing voters for Republican candidates nationwide. Their widespread exposure in the media contributed to the election's focus on economic, rather than social, issues. In the opinion of Fox News political analyst Dick Morris, a "fundamental change" occurred in which social issues did not dominate Republican activism in 2010, because "economic and fiscal issues prevail. The Tea Party has made the Republican Party safe for libertarians."[10]

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

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

Federal elections

Congressional elections

Senate elections

The 34 seats in the United States Senate Class III were up for election. In addition, the Class II Senate seat in Delaware currently held by Ted Kaufman, the Class I Senate seat in New York currently held by Kirsten Gillibrand, and the Class I seat in West Virginia currently held by Carte Goodwin were contested in special elections resulting from Joe Biden's 2008 election as Vice President of the United States and Hillary Clinton's appointment to the Cabinet as U.S. Secretary of State and their subsequent resignations from the Senate, as well as incumbent Senator Robert Byrd's death and the interim appointment of Goodwin to the Senate. A special election was also held for the Class I seat in Massachusetts, as a result of the death of incumbent Senator Ted Kennedy. The election was held on January 19, 2010, resulting in Republican state senator Scott Brown winning the seat.

House of Representatives elections

All 435 voting seats in the United States House of Representatives were up for election. Additionally, elections were held to select the delegates for the District of Columbia and four of the five U.S. territories. The only seat in the House not up for election was that of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, who serves a four-year term and faced election in 2012.

State elections

Gubernatorial elections

Thirty-six of the fifty United States governors were up for election. Elections were also held for the governorships of two U.S. territories. One state, Louisiana, had no campaign for governor but did feature a special election for lieutenant governor.[11] Jerry Brown, a longtime California politician who had been a prominent national political figure since the 1960s, was elected to a third, nonconsecutive term as Governor of California.

Other state-wide officer elections

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

State legislative elections

All states except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia held elections for their state legislatures.[12] Republicans made substantial gains in state legislatures across the nation. Twenty chambers flipped from Democratic to Republican control, giving Republicans full control of eleven state legislatures and control of one chamber in Colorado, Iowa and New York.1[13] Additionally, Republicans gained enough seats in the Oregon House to produce a 30-30 party split, pushing Democrats into a power-sharing agreement that resulted in the election of two "co-speakers" (one from each party) to lead the chamber.[14]

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

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


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

Local elections

Nationwide, various cities, counties, school boards, special districts and others elected officers in 2010.

Some of the high-profile mayoral elections included the following:


  1. ^ "2010 Primary Dates and Seats Up". September 23, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  2. ^ Tomasky, Michael (November 3, 2010). "Turnout: says a lot". The Guardian (London). Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  3. ^ "In Redistricting Year, GOP Gains a Big Edge". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Four More Lessons from the GOP Landslide". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Devastation: GOP Picks Up 680 State Leg. Seats". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  6. ^ Jonathan Weisman (October 20, 2010). "GOP in Lead in Final Lap". Wall Street Journal. 
  7. ^ "It's the Ideology, Stupid: Midterm elections". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Women, Independent Voters Show Biggest Swing From 2008". Fox News. November 3, 2010. 
  9. ^ Jeffrey M. Jones, "Americans Give GOP Edge on Most Election Issues; Greatest Republican advantages on terrorism, immigration, federal spending", , September 1, 2010Gallup
  10. ^ The New Republican Right", ''''""". 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  11. ^ See Louisiana state elections, 2010.
  12. ^ "2010 Primary Dates and Seats Up". September 23, 2009. Retrieved January 26, 2010. 
  13. ^ Storey, Tim. "GOP Makes Historic State Legislative Gains in 2010". Rasmussen Reports. Rasmussen Report, LLC. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Cole, Michelle (Jan 11, 2011). "Oregon House makes history by electing two co-speakers". The Oregonian. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 

Further reading

  • Abramson, Paul et al. Change and Continuity in the 2008 and 2010 Elections (2011)
  • Bullock, Charles S., et al. Key States, High Stakes: Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and the 2010 Elections (2011)
  • Sabato, Larry. Who Got in the Booth? A Look Back at the 2010 Elections (2011)

External links

National newspapers
National radio
  • Election 2010 at NPR
National TV
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