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United States Senate elections, 2002


United States Senate elections, 2002

United States Senate elections, 2002

November 5, 2002

33 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and 1 mid-term vacancy
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 50 seats 50 seats
Seats before 49 49
Seats won 51 48
Seat change Increase 2 Decrease 2
Popular vote 20,626,192 18,956,449
Percentage 49.5% 45.5%
Swing Increase 2.5% Decrease 1.5%

  Third party
Party Independent
Last election 0 seats
Seats before 2
Seats won 1*
Seat change Decrease 1

  Democratic gain
  Democratic hold
  Republican hold
  Republican gain
*1 Independent caucused with the Democrats.

Majority Leader before election

Tom Daschle

Elected Majority Leader

Bill Frist

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. The Senate seats up for election, known as "class 2" Senate seats, were last up for regular election in 1996. The election was held on November 5, 2002, almost fourteen months after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The Democrats had originally hoped to do well, as the party holding the presidency historically loses seats in midterm elections, and the Republicans had 20 seats up for election compared to 14 Democratic seats. In addition, four incumbent Republicans and no Democrats announced their retirement before the election. However, the Republicans were able to hold the four open seats, all of which were in the South. Ultimately, Republicans would pick up three seats and lose one, resulting in a net gain of two seats. Together with gains made in the House of Representatives, this election 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).

This was the most recent Senate election cycle in which at least one incumbent senator from each party lost in the general election. This was also the second consecutive mid-term election held in a president's first term in which the Republican party both had a net gain of seats and regained control of the United States Senate from the Democratic party.


  • Gains and losses 1
  • Results summary 2
  • Change in Senate composition 3
    • Before the elections 3.1
    • End of the Congress 3.2
    • Beginning of the next Congress 3.3
  • Gains and losses 4
    • Democratic gains 4.1
    • Republican gains 4.2
    • Democratic holds 4.3
    • Republican holds 4.4
  • Complete list of races 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7
  • See also 8

Gains and losses

Defeated incumbents included Tim Hutchinson (R-AR), Max Cleland (D-GA), and Jean Carnahan (D-MO). The Republicans also gained the seat of deceased senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN).

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 20,626,192 49.476% 37
  Democratic Party 14 12 36 50 48 -2 18,956,449 45.470% 32
  Independent - - 1 1 1 0 343,625 0.824% 9
  Libertarian Party - - - - - - 724,969 1.739% 20
Reform Party - - - - - - 175,107 0.420% 3
  Green Party - - - - - - 94,702 0.227% 8
Constitution Party - - - - - - 53,706 0.129% 3
Independence Party - - - - - - 51,863 0.124% 2
Other parties - - - - - - 54,108 0.130% 10
Write-in - - - - - - 281,480 0.675% -
Total 34 34 66 100 100 - 41,689,666 100.0% 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.

Change in Senate composition

Before the elections

I1 D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9
D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11 D10
D20 D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28 D29
D39 D38 D37 D36 D35 D34 D33 D32 D31 D30
D40 D41 D42 D43 D44 D45 D46 D47 D48 D49
No majority I2
R41 R42 R43 R44 R45 R46 R47 R48 R49
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
  • I2 + (Minnesota seat):
    The Democratic incumbent died October 25, 2002.
    An Independent (Independence Party of Minnesota) was appointed to finish the term ending with this Congress.
    The Independent refused to caucus with either party.

End of the Congress

Although the Democrats had lost the majority control, the Senate was not reorganized until the next Congress.

I1 D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9
D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11 D10
D20 D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28 D29
D39 D38 D37 D36 D35 D34 D33 D32 D31 D30
D40 D41 D42 D43 D44 D45 D46 D47 D48
Plurality ↓ I2
R41 R42 R43 R44 R45 R46 R47 R48 R49 O 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
  • R50 + (Missouri seat):
    The Democratic appointee lost election to finish the term.
    The Republican winner was seated November 25, 2002. (+ Gain).
  • R49 O (Texas seat):
    The Republican incumbent resigned November 30, 2002.
    The Republican winner was then appointed to finish the term and seated December 2, 2002. (O Hold)

Beginning of the next Congress

I1 D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8 D9
D19 D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11 D10
D20 D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28 D29
D39 D38 D37 D36 D35 D34 D33 D32 D31 D30
D40 D41 D42 D43 D44 D45 D46 D47O D48+ R51+
Majority → R50+
R41 R42 R43 R44O R45O R46O R47O R48O R49+
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
I# Independent
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

Democratic gains

Republican gains

  • Max Cleland (D), 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) 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), 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) in office by 500 votes over Republican challenger John Thune, who accused Johnson and Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle (D) of pushing liberal policies that were different from the promises they made to South Dakota voters. Thune's strategy would work successfully when he later defeated Daschle in 2004.
  • New Jersey: Democratic incumbent Robert Torricelli (D) was dogged by scandal, and eventually quit the race so that the party could replace him with a better candidate, retired Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D), 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), 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) 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 Democrats' "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.

Complete list of races

State Incumbent Party Result Candidates
Alabama Jeff Sessions Republican Re-elected Jeff Sessions (Republican) 58.6%
Susan Parker (Democratic) 39.8%
Jeff Allen (Libertarian) 1.5%
Alaska Ted Stevens Republican Re-elected Ted Stevens (Republican) 78%
Frank J. Vondersaar (Democratic) 11%
Jim Sykes (Green) 8%
Jim Dore (AI) 3%
Leonard Karpinski (Libertarian) 1%
Arkansas Tim Hutchinson Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Mark Pryor (Democratic) 53.9%
Tim Hutchinson (Republican) 46.1%
Colorado Wayne Allard Republican Re-elected Wayne Allard (Republican) 50.7%
Tom Strickland (Democratic) 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 Joe Biden (Democratic) 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 Lost re-election
Republican gain
Saxby Chambliss (Republican) 52.7%
Max Cleland (Democratic) 45.9%
Claude Thomas (Libertarian) 1.4%
Idaho Larry Craig Republican Re-elected Larry Craig (Republican) 65%
Alan Blinken (Democratic) 33%
Donovan Bramwell (Libertarian) 2%
Illinois Dick Durbin Democratic Re-elected Dick Durbin (Democratic) 60.3%
Jim Durkin (Republican) 38%
Steven Burgauer (Libertarian) 1.6%
Iowa Tom Harkin Democratic Re-elected Tom Harkin (Democratic) 54.2%
Greg Ganske (Republican) 43.8%
Tim Harthan (Green) 1.1%
Richard J. Moore (Libertarian) 0.9%
Kansas Pat Roberts Republican Re-elected Pat Roberts (Republican) 82.5%
Steven A. Rosile (Libertarian) 9.1%
George Cook (Reform) 8.4%
Kentucky Mitch McConnell Republican Re-elected Mitch McConnell (Republican) 64.7%
Lois Combs Weinberg (Democratic) 35.3%
Louisiana Mary Landrieu Democratic Re-elected Mary Landrieu (Democratic) 51.7%
Suzanne Haik Terrell (Republican) 48.3%
Maine Susan Collins Republican Re-elected Susan Collins (Republican) 58.4%
Chellie Pingree (Democratic) 41.6%
Massachusetts John Kerry Democratic Re-elected John Kerry (Democratic) 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 Carl Levin (Democratic) 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 Dean Barkley Minnesota
Incumbent Paul Wellstone (DFL) ran for re-election, but died October 25, 2002.
Dean Barkley (Reform) was appointed November 4, 2002 to finish the term, but Barkley did not run in the election.
Republican gain
Norm Coleman (Republican) 49.5%
Walter Mondale (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) 47.3%
Jim Moore (Independence) 2%
Paul Wellstone (Democratic-Farmer-Labor) 0.5%
Ray Tricomo (Green) 0.4%
Miro Drago Kovatchevich (Constitution) 0.1%
Mississippi Thad Cochran Republican Re-elected Thad Cochran (Republican) 85.6%
Shawn O'Hara (Reform) 15.4%
(Class 1: Special)
Jean Carnahan Democratic Appointee lost election to finish term
Republican gain
Jim Talent (Republican) 49.8%
Jean Carnahan (Democratic) 48.7%
Tamara A. Millay (Libertarian) 1%
Daniel Romano (Green) 0.6%
Montana Max Baucus Democratic Re-elected Max Baucus (Democratic) 62.7%
Mike Taylor (Republican) 31.7%
Stan Jones (Libertarian) 3.2%
Bob Kelleher (Green) 2.3%
Nebraska Chuck Hagel Republican Re-elected Chuck Hagel (Republican) 82.8%
Charlie A. Matulka (Democratic) 14.6%
John J. Graziano (Libertarian) 1.5%
Phil Chase (Independent) 1.1%
New Hampshire Bob Smith Republican Lost renomination
Republican hold
John E. Sununu (Republican) 50.8%
Jeanne Shaheen (Democratic) 46.4%
Ken Blevens (Libertarian) 2.2%
New Jersey Robert Torricelli Democratic Retired
Democratic hold
Frank Lautenberg (Democratic) 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%
New Mexico Pete Domenici Republican Re-elected Pete Domenici (Republican) 65%
Gloria Tristani (Democratic) 35%
North Carolina Jesse Helms Republican Retired
Republican hold
Elizabeth Dole (Republican) 53.6%
Erskine Bowles (Democratic) 45%
Sean Haugh (Libertarian) 1.5%
Oklahoma Jim Inhofe Republican Re-elected Jim Inhofe (Republican) 57.3%
David Walters (Democratic) 36.3%
James Germalic (Independent) 6.4%
Oregon Gordon Smith Republican Re-elected Gordon Smith (Republican) 56.2%
Bill Bradbury (Democratic) 39.6%
Dan Fitzgerald (Libertarian) 2.4%
Lon Mabon (Constitution) 1.7%
Rhode Island Jack Reed Democratic Re-elected Jack Reed (Democratic) 78.4%
Robert Tingle (Republican) 21.6%
South Carolina Strom Thurmond Republican Retired
Republican hold
Lindsey Graham (Republican) 54.4%
Alex Sanders (Democratic) 44.2%
Ted Adams (Constitution) 0.8%
Victor Kocher (Libertarian) 0.6%
South Dakota Tim Johnson Democratic Re-elected Tim Johnson (Democratic) 49.6%
John Thune (Republican) 49.5%
Kurt Evans (Libertarian) 0.9%
Tennessee Fred Thompson Republican Retired
Republican hold
Lamar Alexander (Republican) 54%
Bob Clement (Democratic) 44%
Texas Phil Gramm Republican Retired
Republican hold
John Cornyn (Republican) 55.3%
Ron Kirk (Democratic) 43.3%
Scott Jameson (Libertarian) 0.8%
Roy H. Williams (Green) 0.6%
Virginia John Warner Republican Re-elected John Warner (Republican) 82.6%
Nancy Spannaus (Independent) 9.7%
Jacob G. Hornberger (Independent) 7.1%
West Virginia Jay Rockefeller Democratic Re-elected Jay Rockefeller (Democratic) 63.1%
Jay Wolfe (Republican) 36.9%
Wyoming Mike Enzi Republican Re-elected Mike Enzi (Republican) 73%
Joyce Jansa Corcoran (Democratic) 27%


  • 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

  • Clerk of the House of Representatives - Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002
  • United States Election 2002 Web Archive from the U.S. Library of Congress

See also

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