Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Will West Virginia Democrats Hold Jay Rockefeller's Seat?

Bookmark and Share

The party of retiring five-term U.S. Senators has held the seat 83 percent of the time in the next election since popular vote Senate contests began a century ago

jayrockefeller10.jpgJay Rockefeller's announcement last week that he would retire at the end of the 113th Congress puts an open seat on the ballot in 2014 that has been under Democratic control since 1958.

Democrats are hoping West Virginia in 2014 resembles North Dakota in 2012 - with five-term Senators from their party retiring in red states.

In North Dakota's open seat last November caused by the retirement of five-term Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat Heidi Heitkamp overcame a 19.6-point deficit by Barack Obama at the top of the ticket to eke out a 0.9-point win over favored Rick Berg in the deep red state that, like West Virginia, has nonetheless generally been dominated by Democrats in its U.S. Senate delegation for decades.

But can Democrats hope for the same in 2014?

Or do voters get a 30-year itch when five-term Senators leave office and vote in a new party?

A Smart Politics review of U.S. Senate election data finds that the open seats of retiring five-term Senators have been held by the Senator's party in 83 percent of subsequent elections during the direct election era (10 of 12 contests).

Smart Politics examined the pool of the 12 U.S. Senators in the 20th and 21st Centuries who were elected by popular vote to the Senate in five consecutive contests before retiring like Rockefeller will in January 2015.

Ten of these subsequent elections saw the same party retain control of the seat the next time it came up at the ballot box (via special or general election).

In seven of these elections, the exiting Senators were elected and served out five full terms, with the same party holding the seat six times:

· 1948, Kansas: Republican Arthur Capper retired after victories in 1918, 1924, 1930, 1936, and 1942. Republican Andrew Schoeppel won the open seat race.

· 1996, Oregon: Republican Mark Hatfield retired after victories in 1966, 1972, 1978, 1984, and 1990. Republican Gordon Smith won the open seat race.

· 2002, North Carolina: Republican Jesse Helms retired after five wins in 1972, 1978, 1984, 1990, and 1996. Republican Elizabeth Dole won his open seat.

· 2006, Maryland: Democrat Paul Sarbanes retired after five victories in 1976, 1982, 1988, 1994, and 2000. Democrat Ben Cardin won the open seat contest.

· 2008, Virginia: Republican John Warner retired after five wins in 1978, 1984, 1990, 1996, and 2002. Democrat Mark Warner picked up the open seat for his party.

· 2010, Connecticut: Democrat Chris Dodd retired after five victories in 1980, 1986, 1992, 1998, and 2004. Democrat Richard Blumenthal defeated Linda McMahon to keep the seat in the Democratic column.

· 2012, New Mexico: Democrat Jeff Bingaman retired after five wins in 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000, and 2006. Democrat Martin Heinrich won the open seat.

In five elections, the exiting Senators served out their terms before retirement but won one of their five terms via special election and as such did not serve a full 30 years. The Senator's party held the seat four times:

· 1960, Montana: Democrat James Murray was elected in a special election in 1934 and four full terms in 1936, 1942, 1948, and 1954. Democrat Lee Metcalf won the open seat six years later.

· 1976, Rhode Island: Democrat John Pastore won a special election in 1950 and four full terms in 1952, 1958, 1964, and 1970. Republican John Chafee picked up the open seat for the GOP.

· 1984, West Virginia: Democrat Jennings Randolph won a special election in 1958 and four full terms in 1960, 1966, 1972, and 1978. Jay Rockefeller won the open seat race.

· 1996, Georgia: Democrat Sam Nunn was elected via special election in 1972 for the last few months of the term and then four full terms in 1972, 1978, 1984, and 1990. Democrat Max Cleland won Nunn's open seat race.

· 2012, North Dakota: Democrat Kent Conrad retired after five wins - one to the state's Class III seat (1986) and four to its Class I seat (1992 via special election, 1994, 2000, and 2006). Democrat Heidi Heitkamp won the open seat for her party.

Another eight elections followed the death or resignation of five-term Senators who did not serve out all of their final term.

The Senator's party won the seat in six such contests the next time it was on the ballot:

· 1944, Oregon: After the death of Republican Charles McNary in 1944, Republican Guy Cordon (who had also been appointed to the seat) won a special election that November.

· 1946, California: After the death of Republican Hiram Johnson in 1945, Republican William Knowland (who had also been appointed to the seat) won a special election in 1946 to finish the term.

· 1946, Virginia: After the death of Democrat Carter Glass in 1946 - and the subsequent appointment of Democrat Thomas Burch - Democrat A. Willis Robertson won a special election to the seat in November of that year.

· 1952, Michigan: After the death of Republican Arthur Vandenburg in 1951 - and the subsequent appointment of Democrat Blair Moody - Republican Charles Potter won the special election in 1952 to finish the term.

· 1964, New Mexico: After the death of Democrat Dennis Chavez in 1962, Republican Edwin Mechem appointed himself to the seat but Democrat Joseph Montoya won the special election in 1964 to finish Chavez's term.

· 1962, New Hampshire: After the death of Republican Styles Bridges in 1961 - and subsequent appointment of Republican Maurice Murphy - Democrat Thomas McIntyre was elected to finish the term in 1962.

· 1996, Kansas: After Bob Dole resigned in June 1996 to focus on his presidential campaign - and the subsequent appointment of GOPer Sheila Frahm - Republican Sam Brownback won a special election that November to finish Dole's term.

· 1996, Oregon: After the resignation of Republican Bob Packwood in 1995 facing expulsion by the Senate, Democrat Ron Wyden won a special election 1996 to finish his term.

Other U.S. Senators in their fifth term who are up for reelection in 2014 are Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin, Kentucky Republican Mitch McConnell, and Massachusetts Democrat John Kerry, who is expected to retire to become the next Secretary of State sometime early this year.

New Jersey Democrat Frank Lautenberg, whose seat is also up in 2014, has served five non-consecutive terms.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: The Literary Namesakes of US Congressmen
Next post: FOX Still Shunned at Obama Press Conferences

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