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United States Senate elections, 1996


United States Senate elections, 1996

United States Senate elections, 1996

November 5, 1996

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
Leader Trent Lott Tom Daschle
Party Republican Democratic
Leader's seat Mississippi South Dakota
Last election 52 seats 48 seats
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%

  Democratic gain
  Democratic hold
  Republican hold
  Republican gain

Majority Leader before election

Trent Lott

Elected Majority Leader

Trent Lott

The 1996 elections to the United States Senate coincided with the 1996 presidential election, in which Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore were reelected President and Vice President of the United States, respectively.

Despite the reelection 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.

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

Results summary

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 Held by same party 5 4 9
Replaced by other party 3 0 3
Incumbent ran 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
Popular Vote Votes 23,490,651 24,211,395 362,208 939,895 49,004,149
Share 47.94% 49.41% 0.74% 1.92% 100%


  • Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present, via
  • Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election of November 5, 1996, via

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 R53 R52 R51
R41 R42 R43 R44 R45 R46 R47 R48 R49 R50
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 O D39 D38 D37 D36 D35 D34 D33 D32 D31
D41 O D42 O D43 O D44 O D45 + R55 + R54 + R53 + R52 O R51 O
R41 R42 R43 R44 R45 R46 R47 O R48 O R49 O R50 O
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, losses, and holds

Democratic gains

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

Democratic holds

  • Georgia: Incumbent Senator Sam Nunn decided not to run for re-election and gave his endorsements to 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.

Republican gains

  • 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).

Summary of contests

Separate election

Date State
(Linked to
individual election
articles in bold)
Incumbent Party Result Candidates
January 30,
Special: Class 3
Bob Packwood Republican Resigned
Winner elected to finish term ending January 3, 1999
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%

November elections

(Linked to individual
election articles)
Incumbent Senator Incumbent party Result Candidates
(Winning candidates in bold)
Alabama Howell Heflin Democratic Retired
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 Ted Stevens Republican Re-elected Ted Stevens (Republican) 76.7%
Jeff Whittaker (Green) 12.5%
Theresa Obermeyer (Democratic) 10.3%
Arkansas David Pryor Democratic Retired
Republican gain
Tim Hutchinson (Republican) 52.7%
Winston Bryant (Democratic) 47.3%
Colorado Hank Brown Republican Retired
Republican hold
Wayne Allard (Republican) 51.4%
Tom Strickland (Democratic) 45.7%
Randy MacKenzie (Natural Law) 2.9%
Delaware Joe Biden Democratic Re-elected Joe Biden (Democratic) 60%
Raymond J. Clatworthy (Republican) 38.1%
Mark Jones (Libertarian) 1.2%
Jacqueline Kossoff (Natural Law) 0.6%
Georgia Sam Nunn Democratic Retired
Democratic hold
Max Cleland (Democratic) 48.9%
Guy Millner (Republican) 47.5%
John Gregory Cashin (Libertarian) 3.6%
Idaho Larry E. Craig Republican 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 Paul Simon Democratic Retired
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 Tom Harkin Democratic 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 Nancy Kassebaum Republican Retired
Republican hold
Pat Roberts (Republican) 62.0%
Sally Thompson (Democratic) 34.4%
Mark S. Marney (Reform) 2.3%
Steven Rosile (Libertarian) 1.2%
Special: Class 3
Bob Dole (resigned June 11, 1996)
Sheila Frahm
Republican Appointee lost renomination
Winner elected to finish term ending January 3, 1999
Republican hold
Sam Brownback (Republican) 53.9%
Jill Docking (Democratic) 43.3%
Donald R. Klaassen (Reform) 2.8%
Kentucky Mitch McConnell Republican 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 Bennett Johnston, Jr. Democratic Retired
Democratic hold
Mary Landrieu (Democratic) 50.1% (21.51% in jungle primary)
Woody Jenkins (Republican) 49.9% (26.23% in jungle primary)
Maine William Cohen Republican Retired
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 John Kerry Democratic Re-elected John Kerry (Democratic) 52.2%
William Weld (Republican) 44.7%
Susan Gallagher (Conservative) 2.7%
Robert Stowe (Natural Law) 0.3%
Michigan Carl Levin Democratic 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 Paul Wellstone Democratic (DFL) Re-elected Paul Wellstone (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) 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 Thad Cochran (Republican) 71.0%
James Hunt (Democratic) 27.4%
Ted Weill (Independence) 1.6%
Montana Max Baucus Democratic Re-elected Max Baucus (Democratic) 49.5%
Dennis Rehberg (Republican) 44.7%
Becky Shaw (Reform) 4.7%
Stephen Heaton (Natural Law) 1%
Nebraska J. James Exon Democratic Retired
Republican gain
Chuck Hagel (Republican) 56.1%
Ben Nelson (Democratic) 41.7%
New Hampshire Bob Smith Republican Re-elected Bob Smith (Republican) 49.3%
Dick Swett (Democratic) 46.2%
Ken Blevens (Libertarian) 4.5%
New Jersey Bill Bradley Democratic Retired
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 Pete Domenici Republican 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 Jesse Helms Republican 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 Jim Inhofe Republican 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 Mark Hatfield Republican Retired
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 Claiborne Pell Democratic Retired
Democratic hold
Jack Reed (Democratic) 63.3%
Nancy J. Mayer (Republican) 35%
Donald W. Lovejoy (Independent) 1.7%
South Carolina Strom Thurmond Republican 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 Larry Pressler Republican Lost re-election
Tim Johnson (Democratic) 51.3%
Larry Pressler (R) 48.7%
Tennessee Fred Thompson Republican 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 Phil Gramm Republican Re-elected Phil Gramm (Republican) 54.8%
Victor Morales (Democratic) 43.9%
Michael Bird (Libertarian) 0.9%
John Huff (Natural Law) 0.4%
Virginia John Warner Republican Re-elected John Warner (Republican) 52.5%
Mark Warner (Democratic) 47.4%
West Virginia Jay Rockefeller Democratic Re-elected Jay Rockefeller (Democratic) 76.6%
Betty Burkes (Republican) 23.4%
Wyoming Alan K. Simpson Republican Retired
Republican hold
Mike Enzi (Republican) 54.1%
Kathy Karpan (Democratic) 42.2%
W. David Herbert (Libertarian) 2.5%
Lloyd Marsden (Natural Law) 1.2%

See also

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