Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Evan Bayh's Exit from the U.S. Senate Unprecedented in the History of Indiana Politics

Bookmark and Share

Bayh is only elected Democrat from Indiana since popular vote elections to exit the U.S. Senate for reasons other than defeat at the ballot box or death

Being a Democratic member of Congress these days may not be easy. In fact, being a Democratic Senator from the State of Indiana has been a tricky business for most of the past 100 years.

And while Evan Bayh's decision to retire after two terms in the U.S. Senate, is, by at least Bayh's own account, a departure on his own terms, many Democrats are fuming at the junior Senator from Indiana for the vulnerable position his decision has left the Party in the 2010 election cycle.

If Democratic leaders were surprised at Bayh's decision, that is because the move was unprecedented in Indiana politics. Here's why:

Senator Bayh's pronouncement to step aside and not seek reelection gives him the luxury to leave the U.S. Senate on terms not enjoyed by any of his Democratic predecessors in the traditionally Republican Hoosier State.

Prior to Bayh, since popular vote elections were introduced nearly 100 years ago, every other elected Democratic Senator from Indiana exited the Senate 'going down fighting' - by either losing at the ballot box, or by dying in office.

Here is the fate of Bayh's Democratic predecessors:

· The most recent Democratic Senator from Indiana to leave the Senate on terms not of his own making was Bayh's father, Birch (1963-1981). The elder Bayh was defeated by Dan Quayle in his quest for a 4th term during the Reagan revolution election of 1980, when a 58-41 Democratic advantage turned into a 53-46 deficit.

· Prior to Bayh, Vance Hartke (1959-1977) was similarly defeated in his attempt at a 4th term in office - by current Republican Senator Richard Lugar in 1976.

· Future Supreme Court Justice Sherman Minton (1935-1941) lost his attempt at a second term by less than 24,000 votes when GOPer Raymond Willis defeated him in 1940.

· Frederick Van Nuys (1933-1944) died in office near the end of his second term.

· Samuel Ralston (1923-1925) died in office less than three years into his first term.

· John Kern (1911-1917) lost his reelection bid for a second term in 1916.

· Benjamin Shively (1909-1916) died in office in his second term. (Democrat Thomas Taggart was appointed in March 1916 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Senator Shively, but lost the special election to fill his seat that November).

The only Democratic Senator from Indiana to retire, like Bayh, was Samuel D. Jackson, although Jackson was never elected by popular vote in the first place. Jackson only served 10 months in 1944 when he was appointed after the death of Senator Van Nuys. After the November 1944 election, Republican William Jenner took his seat.

Republican Senators from Indiana have enjoyed much more volitional exits as a whole since popular vote elections were introduced in 1914.

While three Senators were eventually defeated in reelection bids (Arthur Robinson, James Watson, and Homer Capehat) and one lost his party's nomination (Harry New), four Senators retired from office (Raymond Willis, William Jenner (twice), and Dan Coats) and a fifth resigned (Dan Quayle, to become Vice President of the United States).

No Republican Senator has died in office in over 130 years.

Bayh, however, cited the death of bipartisan comity on Capitol Hill as a motivating factor in his decision to not seek reelection.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Minnesota Ranks 10th in Nation in Campaign Contributions Per Congressional District in 2009
Next post: Minnesota's GOP U.S. Representatives Launching Aggressive Media Campaign in 2010; DFLers Shying Away

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting