United States Senate elections, 1978

United States Senate elections, 1978
United States
November 7, 1978

35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate
51 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
Leader Robert Byrd Howard Baker
Party Democratic Republican
Leader's seat West Virginia Tennessee
Last election 61 seats 38 seats
Seats won 58 41
Seat change Decrease 3 Increase 3
Popular vote 14,362,402 13,520,147
Percentage 50.6% 47.6%
Swing Decrease 3.1% Increase 6.1%

  Third party
Party Independent
Last election 1 seat
Seats before 1
Seats won 1
Seat change Steady

  Democratic gain
  Democratic hold
  Republican hold
  Republican gain

Majority Leader before election

Robert Byrd

Elected Majority Leader

Robert Byrd

The United States Senate elections, 1978 in the middle of Democratic President Jimmy Carter's term. Thirteen seats changed hands between parties. The Democrats lost a net of three seats to the Republicans, leaving the balance of the chamber 58-41 in favor of the Democrats.

Results summary

Parties Total Seats Popular Vote
1976 1978 +/- Vote %
Democratic Party 61 58 -3 14,362,402 50.60%
Republican Party 38 41 +3 13,520,147 47.63%
Independent 1 1 0 299,624 1.06%
American Party 0 0 0 35,168 0.12%
Prohibition Party 0 0 0 34,951 0.12%
Socialist Worker's Party 0 0 0 29,796 0.10%
Libertarian Party 0 0 0 25,071 0.09%
Others 0 0 0 79,479 0.28%
Total 100 100 - 28,386,638 100.0%
Source: Election Statistics - Office of the Clerk

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
Majority→ D50
D59 D58 D57 D56 D55 D54 D53 D52 D51
D60 D61 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

As a result of 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
Majority→ D50O
R41+ D58+ D57+ D56+ D55+ D54+ D53O D52O D51O
R40+ R39+ R38+ R37+ R36+ R35+ R34+ R33O R32O R31O
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
I# Independent, caucusing with the Democrats
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

Republican gains

Republicans took three open seats, including one in Minnesota (a special election was called after the death of Hubert Humphrey (D-MN)), as well as in Mississippi and South Dakota. They also defeated five Democratic incumbents: Floyd Haskell (Colorado), Dick Clark (Iowa), William Hathaway (Maine), Wendell Anderson (Minnesota), and Thomas McIntyre (New Hampshire). The two Republican victories in Minnesota saw the state's Senate delegation change from two Democrats to two Republicans in the same election.

Democratic gains

The Republican gains were offset by Democratic defeats of Edward Brooke (Massachusetts) and Robert Griffin (Michigan), and captures of Republican open seats in Nebraska, New Jersey, and Oklahoma.

Complete list of races

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

State Incumbent Party Result Opposing Candidates
Alabama John Sparkman Democratic Retired
Democratic hold
Howell Heflin (Democratic) 94.0%
Jerome B. Couch (Prohibition) 6.0%
Special: Class 3
Maryon Pittman Allen Democratic Appointee lost nomination to finish term
Democratic hold
Donald W. Stewart (Democratic) 55.1%
James D. Martin (Republican) 43.3%
Michael R. A. Erdey (Libertarian) 0.8%
A. J. Killingsworth (Prohibition) 0.8%
Alaska Ted Stevens Republican Re-elected Ted Stevens (Republican) 75.6%
Donald W. Hobbs (Democratic) 24.1%
Arkansas Kaneaster Hodges, Jr. Democratic Retired
Democratic hold
David Pryor (Democratic) 76.5%
Tom Kelly (Republican) 16.3%
John J. Black (Independent) 7.2%
Colorado Floyd K. Haskell Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
William L. Armstrong (Republican) 58.7%
Floyd K. Haskell (Democratic) 40.3%
Vedder V. Dorn (United States Party) 0.7%
John Shue (National Statesman) 0.3%
Delaware Joe Biden Democratic Re-elected Joe Biden (Democratic) 58.0%
James H. Baxter (Republican) 41.0%
Donald G. Gies (American) 1.0%
Georgia Sam Nunn Democratic Re-elected Sam Nunn (Democratic) 83.1%
John W. Stokes (Republican) 16.9%
Idaho James A. McClure Republican Re-elected James A. McClure (Republican) 68.4%
Dwight Jensen (Democratic) 31.6%
Illinois Charles H. Percy Republican Re-elected Charles H. Percy (Republican) 53.3%
Alex Seith (Democratic) 45.5%
William R. Roy (Libertarian) 0.5%
Patricia Grogan (Socialist Workers) 0.5%
Gerald Rose (Socialist Labor) 0.2%
Iowa Dick Clark Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
Roger Jepsen (Republican) 51.1%
Dick Clark (Democratic) 47.9%
Gerald Leo Baker (Independent) 0.5%
Ben L. Olson (Libertarian) 0.4%
Kansas James B. Pearson Republican Retired
Republican hold
Nancy Landon Kassebaum (Republican) 53.9%
William R. Roy (Democratic) 42.4%
James R. Maher (Conservative) 3.0%
Russell Mikels (Prohibition) 0.7%
Kentucky Walter Huddleston Democratic Re-elected Walter Huddleston (Democratic) 61.0%
Louis Guenthner (Republican) 36.9%
Anthony A. McCord (American) 2.1%
Louisiana Bennett Johnston Jr. Democratic Re-elected Bennett Johnston, Jr. (Democratic) 59.4%
Woody Jenkins (Democratic) 40.6%
Maine William Hathaway Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
William Cohen (Republican) 56.6%
William Hathaway (Democratic) 33.9%
Hayes E. Gahagan (Independent) 7.4%
John J. Jannace (Independent) 1.5%
Plato Truman (Independent) 0.6%
Massachusetts Edward Brooke Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Paul Tsongas (Democratic) 55.1%
Edward Brooke (Republican) 44.9%
Michigan Robert P. Griffin Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Carl Levin (Democratic) 52.1%
Robert P. Griffin (Republican) 47.9%
Special: Class 1
Muriel Humphrey Democratic Appointee retired
Republican gain
David Durenberger (Republican) 61.4%
Bob Short (Democratic) 34.6%
Paul Helm (American) 2.9%
Christine Frank (Socialist) 0.7%
Frederick Hewitt (Libertarian) 0.3%
Minnesota Wendell Anderson Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
Rudy Boschwitz (Republican) 56.6%
Wendell Anderson (Democratic) 40.4%
Sal Carlone (American) 1.5%
William Peterson (Socialist Workers) 0.6%
Brian Coyle (Public Interest Independent) 0.5%
Jean T. Brust (Workers) 0.2%
Leonard Richards (Libertarian) 0.2%
Mississippi James O. Eastland Democratic Retired
Republican gain
Thad Cochran (Republican) 45.3%
Maurice Dantin (Democratic) 31.8%
Charles Evers (Independent) 22.6%
Henry Kirksey (Independent) 0.3%
Montana Paul G. Hatfield Democratic Lost renomination
Democratic hold
Max Baucus (Democratic) 55.7%
Larry Williams (Republican) 44.3%
Nebraska Carl Curtis Republican Retired
Democratic gain
J. James Exon (Democratic) 67.6%
Donald Shasteen (Republican) 32.3%
New Hampshire Thomas J. McIntyre Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
Gordon J. Humphrey (Republican) 50.7%
Thomas J. McIntyre (Democratic) 48.5%
Craig Franklin (Libertarian) 0.8%
New Jersey Clifford P. Case Republican Lost renomination
Democratic gain
Bill Bradley (Democratic) 55.3%
Jeffrey Bell (Republican) 43.1%
Herbert Harry Shaw (Independent) 0.2%
Bill Gahres (Independent) 0.2%
Jack Moyers (Independent) 0.2%
Robert Bowen (Labor) 0.2%
J.M. Carter, Jr. (Independent) 0.2%
Jasper C. Gould (Independent) 0.2%
William R. Thorn (Independent) 0.1%
Paul Ferguson (Independent) 0.1%
Alice Conner (Independent) 0.1%
New Mexico Pete Domenici Republican Re-elected Pete Domenici (Republican) 53.4%
Toney Anaya (Democratic) 46.6%
North Carolina Jesse Helms Republican Re-elected Jesse Helms (Republican) 54.5%
John Ingram (Democratic) 45.5%
Oklahoma Dewey F. Bartlett Republican Retired
Democratic gain
David L. Boren (Democratic) 65.5%
Robert B. Kamm (Republican) 32.9%
Glenn E. Hager (Independent) 0.5%
Riley Donica (Independent) 0.4%
Paul Edward Trent (Independent) 0.4%
Richard King Carter (Independent) 0.3%
Oregon Mark Hatfield Republican Re-elected Mark Hatfield (Republican) 61.6%
Vernon Cook (Democratic) 38.3%
Rhode Island Claiborne Pell Democratic Re-elected Claiborne Pell (Democratic) 75.1%
James G. Reynolds (Republican) 24.9%
South Carolina Strom Thurmond Republican Re-elected Strom Thurmond (Republican) 55.6%
Charles D. Ravenel (Democratic) 44.4%
South Dakota James Abourezk Democratic Retired
Republican gain
Larry Pressler (Republican) 66.8%
Don Barnett (Democratic) 33.2%
Tennessee Howard Baker Republican Re-elected Howard Baker (Republican) 55.5%
Jane Eskind (Democratic) 40.3%
Thomas Anderson (Independent) 4.0%
Fern Lucius Keasler (Independent) 0.2%
Texas John Tower Republican Re-elected John Tower (Republican) 49.8%
Bob Krueger (Democratic) 49.3%
Luis A. Diaz de Leon (La Raza Unida) 0.8%
Miguel Pendas (Socialist Workers) 0.2%
Virginia William L. Scott Republican Retired
Republican hold
John Warner (Republican) 50.2%
Andrew P. Miller (Democratic) 49.8%
West Virginia Jennings Randolph Democratic Re-elected Jennings Randolph (Democratic) 50.5%
Arch A. Moore, Jr. (Republican) 49.5%
Wyoming Clifford Hansen Republican Retired
Republican hold
Alan K. Simpson (Republican) 62.2%
Raymond B. Whitaker (Democratic) 37.8%

See also

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