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United States Senate elections, 1990


United States Senate elections, 1990

United States Senate elections, 1990

November 6, 1990

Class 2 (33 of the 100) seats in the United States Senate,
one mid-term vacancy from Class 1,
and one mid-term vacancy from Class 3

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 won 56 44
Seat change Increase 1 Decrease 1
Popular vote 17,907,544 16,494,624
Percentage 51.1% 47.1%
Swing Decrease 1.0% Increase 0.9%

  Democratic hold
  Democratic gain
  Republican hold

Majority Leader before election

George Mitchell

Elected Majority Leader

George Mitchell

midterm elections, the party not holding the presidency gained seats in Congress.

Only one seat changed parties in this election, as Democrat Paul Wellstone defeated incumbent Republican Rudy Boschwitz (R-MN). Democrats would gain a 57th seat after Harris Wofford won a 1991 special election to replace H. John Heinz III (R-PA), who had died in a plane crash.


  • Results summary 1
  • Change in Senate composition 2
    • Senate composition before the elections 2.1
    • Senate composition as a result of the elections 2.2
  • Gains, losses, and holds 3
    • Democratic gains 3.1
    • Democratic re-elected 3.2
    • Republican holds 3.3
  • Complete list of races 4
  • See also 5

Results summary

Summary of the 1990 United States Senate election results
Parties Total Seats Popular Vote
1988 1990 +/- Vote %
  Democratic Party 55 56 Increase 1 17,907,544 51.12%
  Republican Party 45 44 Decrease 1 16,494,624 47.09%
  Independent - - - 222,534 0.64%
  Libertarian Party - - - 142,003 0.41%
Others - - - 260,665 0.74%
Total 100 100 - 35,027,370 100.0%
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 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

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→ D51
R41 R42O R43O R44O D56+ 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, losses, and holds

Democratic gains

  1. Minnesota: Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (R-MN) lost to his Democratic opponent, college professor Paul Wellstone. Wellstone ran a campaign highlighted by a unique series of political advertisements that helped him pull from behind to defeat two-term incumbent Boschwitz.

Democratic re-elected

  1. New Jersey: The usually safe Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) suddenly became very vulnerable in the face of an unpopular income tax hike. Bradley refused to take a stand on the tax hike, initiated by Democratic Governor James Florio, which helped his Republican opponent Christine Todd Whitman. Bradley narrowly held his seat, but Whitman used this momentum to defeat Governor Florio in the 1993 gubernatorial election.

Republican holds

  1. North Carolina: Conservative Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC) narrowly won re-election over former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt (D). The race featured a late-running ad attacking Gantt's support for affirmative action.

Complete list of races

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

State Incumbent Party Result Candidates
Alabama Howell Heflin Democratic Re-elected Howell Heflin (Democratic) 60.7%
William J. Cabaniss (Republican) 39.3%
Alaska Ted Stevens Republican Re-elected Ted Stevens (Republican) 67.2%
Michael Beasley (Democratic) 32.8%
Arkansas David Pryor Democratic Re-elected David Pryor (Democratic) Unopposed
Colorado William L. Armstrong Republican Retired
Republican hold
Hank Brown (Republican) 55.7%
Josie Heath (Democratic) 41.6%
John Heckman (Concerns of People) 1.5%
Earl Dodge (Prohibition) 1.2%
Delaware Joe Biden Democratic Re-elected Joe Biden (Democratic) 62.7%
M. Jane Brady (Republican) 35.8%
Lee Rosenbaum (Libertarian) 1.5%
Georgia Sam Nunn Democratic Re-elected Sam Nunn (Democratic) Unopposed
(Special: Class 1)
Daniel Akaka Democratic Appointee elected to finish the term ending January 3, 1995 Daniel Akaka (Democratic) 54.0%
Pat Saiki (Republican) 44.6%
Ken Schoolland (Libertarian) 1.4%
Idaho James A. McClure Republican Retired
Republican hold
Larry Craig (Republican) 61.3%
Ron J. Twilegar (Democratic) 38.7%
Illinois Paul Simon Democratic Re-elected Paul Simon (Democratic) 64.9%
Lynn Morley Martin (Republican) 35.1%
(Special: Class 3)
Dan Coats Republican Appointee elected to finish the term ending January 3, 1993 Dan Coats (Republican) 53.7%
Baron Hill (Democratic) 46.3%
Iowa Tom Harkin Democratic Re-elected Tom Harkin (Democratic) 54.0%
Tom Tauke (Republican) 46.0%
Kansas Nancy Landon Kassebaum Republican Re-elected Nancy Landon Kassebaum (Republican) 73.6%
Dick Williams (Democratic) 26.4%
Kentucky Mitch McConnell Republican Re-elected Mitch McConnell (Republican) 52.2%
Harvey I. Sloane (Democratic) 47.8%
Louisiana Bennett Johnston Jr. Democratic Re-elected Bennett Johnston Jr. (Democratic) 53%
David Duke (Republican, but not endorsed) 44%
Maine William Cohen Republican Re-elected William Cohen (Republican) 61.4%
Neil Rolde (Democratic) 38.6%
Massachusetts John Kerry Democratic Re-elected John Kerry (Democratic) 56.9%
Jim Rappaport (Republican) 43.1%
Michigan Carl Levin Democratic Re-elected Carl Levin (Democratic) 57.5%
Bill Schuette (Republican) 41.2%
Susan Farquhar (Workers World) 1.3%
Minnesota Rudy Boschwitz Republican Lost re-election
Democratic gain
Paul Wellstone (Democratic) 50.4%
Rudy Boschwitz (Republican) 47.8%
Russell Bentley (Grassroots) 1.6%
Mississippi Thad Cochran Republican Re-elected Thad Cochran (Republican) Unopposed
Montana Max Baucus Democratic Re-elected Max Baucus (Democratic) 68.1%
Allen C. Kolstad (Republican) 29.4%
Westley Deitchler (Libertarian) 2.5%
Nebraska J. James Exon Democratic Re-elected J. James Exon (Democratic) 59.1%
Hal Daub (Republican) 40.9%
New Hampshire Gordon J. Humphrey Republican Retired
Republican hold
Bob Smith (Republican) 65.1%
John A. Durkin (Democratic) 31.3%
John Elsnau (Libertarian) 3.3%
New Jersey Bill Bradley Democratic Re-elected Bill Bradley (Democratic) 50.4%
Christine Todd Whitman (Republican) 47.4%
John L. Kucek (Populist) 1.0%
Louis M. Stefanelli (Libertarian) 0.7%
Don Mackle (Socialist Workers) 0.4%
New Mexico Pete Domenici Republican Re-elected Pete Domenici (Republican) 72.9%
Tom R. Benavides (Democratic) 27.1%
North Carolina Jesse Helms Republican Re-elected Jesse Helms (Republican) 52.6%
Harvey Gantt (Democratic) 47.4%
Oklahoma David L. Boren Democratic Re-elected David L. Boren (Democratic) 83.2%
Stephen Jones (Republican) 17.8%
Oregon Mark Hatfield Republican Re-elected Mark Hatfield (Republican) 53.9%
Harry Lonsdale (Democratic) 46.1%
Rhode Island Claiborne Pell Democratic Re-elected Claiborne Pell (Democratic) 61.8%
Claudine Schneider (Republican) 38.2%
South Carolina Strom Thurmond Republican Re-elected Strom Thurmond (Republican) 64.2%
Bob Cunningham (Democratic) 32.5%
William H. Griffin (Libertarian) 1.8%
Marion C. Metts (American) 1.4%
South Dakota Larry Pressler Republican Re-elected Larry Pressler (Republican) 52.4%
Ted Muenster (Democratic) 45.1%
Dean L. Sinclair (Independent) 2.5%
Tennessee Al Gore Democratic Re-elected Al Gore (Democratic) 67.7%
William R. Hawkins (Republican) 29.8%
Bill Jacox (Independent) 1.4%
Charles Gordon Vick (Independent) 1.0%
Texas Phil Gramm Republican Re-elected Phil Gramm (Republican) 60.2%
Hugh Parmer (Democratic) 37.4%
Gary Johnson (Libertarian) 2.3%
Virginia John Warner Republican Re-elected John Warner (Republican) 80.9%
Nancy B. Spannaus (Independent) 18.2%
West Virginia Jay Rockefeller Democratic Re-elected Jay Rockefeller (Democratic) 68.5%
John Yoder (Republican) 31.5%
Wyoming Alan K. Simpson Republican Re-elected Alan K. Simpson (Republican) 66.4%
Kathy Helling (Democratic) 33.6%

See also

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