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United States Senate elections, 1988

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United States Senate elections, 1988

United States Senate elections, 1988

November 8, 1988

35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate
51 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
Leader George Mitchell Bob Dole
Party Democratic Republican
Leader's seat Maine Kansas
Last election 55 seats 45 seats
Seats before 54 46
Seats won 55 45
Seat change Increase 1 Decrease 1
Popular vote 35,137,786 31,151,251
Percentage 52.1% 46.2%
Swing Increase 2.0% Decrease 1.4%

  Democratic hold
  Democratic gain
  Republican hold
  Republican gain

Majority Leader before election

Robert Byrd

Elected Majority Leader

George Mitchell

The United States Senate election, of November 8, 1988 was an election for the presidential election, the Democrats gained a net of one seat in the Senate. A total of seven seats changed hands, with four incumbents being defeated. The Democratic majority in the Senate increased from 54-46 to 55-45.

Results summary

Summary of the 1988 United States Senate election results
Parties Total Seats Popular Vote
+/- Vote %
  Democratic Party 55 54 55 Increase 1 35,137,786 52.12%
  Republican Party 45 46 45 Decrease 1 31,151,251 46.20%
  Libertarian Party 0 0 0 Steady 268,053 0.40%
  Conservative Party (New York) 0 0 0 Steady 189,226 0.28%
Others - - - Steady 677,928 1.01%
Total 100 100 100 - 67,424,244 100.0%
Source: Election Statistics - Office of the Clerk

Change in Senate composition

Senate composition before the elections

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 D46 D47 D48 D49 D50
Majority→ D51
R41 R42 R43 R44 R45 R46 D54 D53 D52
R40 R39 R38 R37 R36 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

Senate composition as a result of the elections

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 D46 D47 D48 D49 D50
Majority→ D51O
R41O R42O R43+ R44+ R45+ D55+ D54+ D53+ D52+
R40 R39 R38 R37 R36 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
D# Democratic
R# Republican
Incumbent re-elected or appointee elected to finish term
O Party hold: New senator elected from same party
+ Party gain: New senator elected from different party

Gains and losses

The Democrats captured four Republican seats, which included an open seat in Virginia and the seats of three incumbents, Chic Hecht of Nevada, Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. of Connecticut, and David K. Karnes of Nebraska. These gains were partially offset by the Republican capture of open seats by Trent Lott in Mississippi and Connie Mack III in Florida, and the defeat of incumbent John Melcher of Montana to Conrad Burns.

Democratic gains

  1. Connecticut: Democratic Attorney General Joe Lieberman narrowly defeated Sen. Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. (R) in his bid for a fourth term. A liberal in an increasingly conservative party, Weicker found himself at odds with his fellow Republicans. This rift would lead many conservatives (such as National Review editor William F. Buckley, Jr.) to endorse Lieberman.
  2. Nebraska: Sen. David Karnes (R) lost by a large margin to former Governor Bob Kerrey (D). Karnes had been appointed to the Senate following the death of Sen. Edward Zorinsky (D) and, though he survived a tough primary challenge from Rep. Hal Daub (R), he proved no match for the popular Kerrey in the general election.
  3. Nevada: Sen. Chic Hecht (R) was narrowly defeated by Governor Richard Bryan (D). Hecht had been considered vulnerable for his undistinguished record and a series of verbal gaffes.
  4. Virginia: Sen. Paul S. Trible, Jr. (R) retired rather than run a contentious re-election race against former Governor Chuck Robb (D). Robb would instead face Republican Maurice Dawkins, a black minister, and defeat him in a landslide.

Republican gains

  1. Florida: Sen. Lawton Chiles (D) retired rather than run for a fourth term. Congressman Connie Mack III (R) overcame some concerns about his very conservative House record to defeat Rep. Buddy MacKay (D).
  2. Mississippi: Senate President pro tempore John C. Stennis (D) retired after 41 years in the Senate. House Minority Whip Trent Lott (R) defeated Congressman Wayne Dowdy by a comfortable margin in the increasing Republican Mississippi.
  3. Montana: Sen. John Melcher (D) was defeated by Republican Conrad Burns. A political novice, Burns would score an upset victory riding on the coattails of Bush's modest Montana victory.

Democratic holds

  1. New Jersey: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) won election to a second term over Republican Wall Street executive Pete Dawkins. Lautenberg's campaign, led by James Carville and Paul Begala, attacked the once favored Dawkins as a carpetbagger (he moved to New Jersey from New York to make his Senate run) and opportunist.
  2. Wisconsin: Former state Democratic Party Chairman Herb Kohl defeated Republican State Senator Susan Engeleiter for the seat of retiring Sen. William Proxmire (D). Kohl capitalized on his popularity in the state as the heir to the department stores that bear his family's name and as owner of the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team.

Republican holds

  1. Washington: Former Sen. Slade Gorton (R) defeated Rep. Mike Lowry (D) for the seat of Sen. Daniel J. Evans (R). Gorton won the tight race despite having been voted out of the state's other Senate seat two years earlier.
  2. Wyoming: Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R) defeated Democratic State Senator John Vinich by less than one percentage point. Wallop became vulnerable due to attacks on his partisan voting record.

Complete list of races

A bolded state name' indicates an article about that state's election. A bolded candidate's name indicates the winner.

State Incumbent Party Result Opposing candidates
Arizona Dennis DeConcini Democratic Re-elected Dennis DeConcini (Democratic) 58.0%
Keith DeGreen (Republican) 42.0%
Rich Tompkins (Libertarian) 1.8%
California Pete Wilson Republican Re-elected Pete Wilson (Republican) 52.7%
Leo T. McCarthy (Democratic) 44.0%
Maria Elizabeth Muñoz (Peace & Freedom) 1.7%
Jack Dean (Libertarian) 0.8%
Merton D. Short (American Ind.) 0.7%
Connecticut Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Joe Lieberman (Democratic) 49.7%
Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. (Republican) 49.0%
Howard Grayson (Libertarian) 0.9%
Melissa Fisher (New Alliance) 0.3%
Delaware William V. Roth, Jr. Republican Re-elected William V. Roth, Jr. (Republican) 62.1%
Shien Biau Woo (Democratic) 37.9%
Florida Lawton Chiles Democratic Retired
Republican gain
Connie Mack III (Republican) 50.4%
Buddy MacKay (Democratic) 49.6%
Hawaii Spark Matsunaga Democratic Re-elected Spark Matsunaga (Democratic) 76.5%
Maria M. Hustace (Republican) 20.7%
Ken Schoolland (Libertarian) 2.8%
Indiana Richard Lugar Republican Re-elected Richard Lugar (Republican) 67.7%
Jack Wickes (Democratic) 32.3%
Maine George J. Mitchell Democratic Re-elected George J. Mitchell (Democratic) 81.1%
Jasper S. Wyman (Republican) 18.9%
Maryland Paul Sarbanes Democratic Re-elected Paul Sarbanes (Democratic) 61.8%
Alan Keyes (Republican) 38.2%
Massachusetts Ted Kennedy Democratic Re-elected Ted Kennedy (Democratic) 65.0%
Joseph D. Malone (Republican) 33.9%
Mary Fridley (New Alliance) 0.6%
Freda Lee Nason (Libertarian) 0.5%
Michigan Donald W. Riegle, Jr. Democratic Re-elected Donald W. Riegle, Jr. (Democratic) 60.4%
James Whitney Dunn (Republican) 38.5%
Dick Jacobs (Libertarian) 0.8%
Sally Bier (Workers Against Concessions) 0.3%
Minnesota David Durenberger Republican Re-elected David Durenberger (Republican) 56.2%
Skip Humphrey (Democratic) 40.9%
Polly Mann (Progressive Issues) 2.1%
Derrick Grimmer (Grassroots) 0.4%
Arlen Overvig (Libertarian) 0.2%
Wendy Lyons (Socialist Workers) 0.1%
Mississippi John C. Stennis Democratic Retired
Republican gain
Trent Lott (Republican) 54.1%
Wayne Dowdy (Democratic) 45.9%
Missouri John Danforth Republican Re-elected John Danforth (Republican) 67.7%
Jay Nixon (Democratic) 31.7%
John Guze (Libertarian) 0.6%
Montana John Melcher Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
Conrad Burns (Republican) 51.9%
John Melcher (Democratic) 48.1%
Nebraska David Karnes Republican Interim appointee lost election to finish term
Democratic gain
Bob Kerrey (Democratic) 56.7%
David Karnes (Republican) 41.7%
Ernie Chambers (New Alliance) 1.6%
Nevada Chic Hecht Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Richard Bryan (Democratic) 51.3%
Chic Hecht (Republican) 47.1%
James Frye (Libertarian) 1.6%
New Jersey Frank Lautenberg Democratic Re-elected Frank Lautenberg (Democratic) 53.5%
Pete Dawkins (Republican) 45.2%
Joseph Job (Independent) 0.7%
Jerry Zeldin (Libertarian) 0.4%
Thomas Fiske (Socialist Workers) 0.2%
New Mexico Jeff Bingaman Democratic Re-elected Jeff Bingaman (Democratic) 63.2%
Bill Valentine (Republican) 36.8%
New York Daniel Patrick Moynihan Democratic Re-elected Daniel Patrick Moynihan (Democratic) 67.3%
Robert R. McMillan (Republican) 31.6%
North Dakota Quentin N. Burdick Democratic Re-elected Quentin N. Burdick (Democratic) 59.5%
Earl Strinden (Republican) 39.1%
Kenneth C. Gardner (Libertarian) 1.5%
Ohio Howard Metzenbaum Democratic Re-elected Howard Metzenbaum (Democratic) 56.9%
George Voinovich (Republican) 43.1%
Pennsylvania H. John Heinz III Republican Re-elected H. John Heinz III (Republican) 66.4%
Joseph C. Vignola (Democratic) 32.4%
Darcy Richardson (Consumer) 0.6%
Henry Haller (Libertarian) 0.3%
Samuel Cross (Populist) 0.1%
Sam Blancato (New Alliance) 0.1%
Rhode Island John Chafee Republican Re-elected John Chafee (Republican) 54.3%
Richard A. Licht (Democratic) 45.7%
Tennessee Jim Sasser Democratic Re-elected Jim Sasser (Democratic) 65.1%
Bill Anderson (Republican) 34.5%
Khalil-Ullah Al-Muhaymin (Independent) 0.4%
Texas Lloyd Bentsen Democratic Re-elected Lloyd Bentsen (Democratic) 59.2%
Beau Boulter (Republican) 40.0%
Jeff Daiell (Libertarian) 0.8%
Utah Orrin Hatch Republican Re-elected Orrin Hatch (Republican) 67.1%
Brian Moss (Democratic) 31.7%
Robert J. Smith (American) 0.9%
William M. Arth (Socialist Workers) 0.2%
Vermont Robert Stafford Republican Retired
Republican hold
Jim Jeffords (Republican) 67.9%
William Gray (Democratic) 29.8%
Jerry Levy (Liberty Union) 1.1%
King Milne (Independent) 1.0%
Virginia Paul S. Trible, Jr. Republican Retired
Democratic gain
Chuck Robb (Democratic) 71.2%
Maurice A. Dawkins (Republican) 28.8%
Washington Daniel J. Evans Republican Retired
Republican hold
Slade Gorton (Republican) 50.7%
Mike Lowry (Democratic) 49.3%
West Virginia Robert Byrd Democratic Re-elected Robert Byrd (Democratic) 63.2%
M. Jay Wolfe (Republican) 36.8%
Wisconsin William Proxmire Democratic Retired
Democratic hold
Herb Kohl (Democratic) 52.2%
Susan Engeleiter (Republican) 47.8%
Wyoming Malcolm Wallop Republican Re-elected Malcolm Wallop (Republican) 50.4%
John Vinich (Democratic) 49.6%

See also

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