Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


The Longest Democratic US Senate Droughts in the Nation

Bookmark and Share

Herbert Hoover was president the last time Democrats won a Senate race in Kansas; Nixon was in his second year in office when Democrats last won Wyoming and Utah

democraticparty10.pngIn the ongoing battle to win control of the U.S. Senate, Republicans, to be sure, have their own Achilles' heel - unable to capture seats at the ballot box for decades in states like West Virginia, Hawaii, and New Jersey.

But the Democratic Party has faced even greater struggles in a larger number of states when it comes to winning elections to the nation's upper legislative chamber.

In fact, 99 of the 100 current U.S. Senators were not even alive the last time Democrats captured a certain Midwestern state.

And, unlike some 2014 GOP prospects, the odds are slim that the Democratic Party will put an end to their losing streaks in any of these Republican-friendly states two Novembers from now.

A Smart Politics review of U.S. Senate election history finds that Democrats have failed to win a Senate seat in eight states across the last quarter century or more - with Kansas leading the way at 81 years and counting.

The Democratic Party currently holds at least one Senate seat in 35 states: Alaska, Arkansas, California (x2), Colorado (x2), Connecticut (x2), Delaware (x2), Florida, Hawaii (x2), Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland (x2), Massachusetts (x2), Michigan (x2), Minnesota (x2), Missouri, Montana (x2), Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey (x2), New Mexico (x2), New York (x2), North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon (x2), Pennsylvania, Rhode Island (x2), South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia (x2), Washington (x2), West Virginia (x2), and Wisconsin.

Of the remaining 15 states where Democrats do not hold any seats, the longest electoral drought currently suffered by the party is taking place in Kansas.

Herbert Hoover was president the last time a Democrat was victorious in a U.S. Senate election in the Sunflower State.

In 1932, one-term Democratic incumbent George McGill narrowly defeated former Kansas Governor Ben Paulsen by 3.6 points.

Of the 100 members currently serving in the Senate, only Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) was alive to witness that event.

McGill won a special election to the seat two years prior, defeating appointed Republican Senator Henry Allen by 2.1 points after Charles Curtis resigned his seat in March 1929 to become Vice-President of the United States.

McGill lost his bid for a third term in 1938 when former Republican Governor Clyde Reed defeated him by 12.4 points.

Reed's victory was the first of 29 consecutive wins by the GOP in Kansas - a streak that is expected to reach 30 in 2014 when Pat Roberts seeks a fourth term in the chamber.

Overall, Kansas voters have elected Democrats in just three of 38 Senate races - with the other being William Thompson's 6-point win over Governor W.R. Stubbs in the first direct election for the office there in 1912.

Six members of the U.S. Senate were not yet born the last time Democrats were elected to the chambet from the western states of Wyoming and Utah in 1970: Republicans Ted Cruz (TX), Marco Rubio (FL), and Mike Lee (UT) and Democrats Martin Heinrich (NM), Brian Schatz (HI), and Chris Murphy (CT).

In Wyoming, the GOP has won 15 consecutive races ever since Democrat Gale McGee won the last of his three terms in 1970.

McGee's attempt for a fourth term in 1976 fell 9.2 points short to Malcolm Wallop.

Democrats have reached the 40 percent mark in just four of these 15 U.S. Senate contests spanning the last 40+ years.

The same story unfolds in Utah, where Democrat Frank Moss won his third term in the chamber in 1970, but then lost in his attempt for a fourth in 1976 to Orrin Hatch who currently holds the seat.

Democrats currently have a 14-contest losing streak in the Beehive State, reaching the 40 percent mark just three times during this span.

Double-digit losing streaks for the Democratic Party are still ongoing in Idaho (at 12) and Mississippi (11).

Democrats last won a Senate race in Idaho when Frank Church won his fourth term. After a failed 1976 presidential campaign, Church narrowly lost his seat in 1980 to Steve Symms by less than 5,000 votes.

John Stennis was the last Democrat elected to the Senate from Mississippi in 1982 - a seat he held for the party for 40+ years until his retirement in 1988.

The 31-year Democratic drought in Mississippi is its fifth longest in the nation.

Other generation-spanning droughts for the Democrats include:

· Texas: 25 years, 9 contests (Lloyd Bentsen, 1988).

· Arizona: 25 years, 8 contests (Dennis DeConcini, 1988).

· Maine: 25 years, 8 contests (George Mitchell, 1988).

· Oklahoma: 23 years, 8 contests (David Boren, 1990).

· Tennessee: 23 years, 8 contests (Al Gore, 1990).

· Alabama: 21 years, 6 contests (Richard Shelby, 1992).

· Kentucky: 21 years, 6 contests (Wendell Ford, 1992).

The only good prospect for a Democratic victory in any of these states in 2014 is in Maine if three-term incumbent Susan Collins either announces her retirement or is defeated in a Republican primary challenge.

The Kentucky U.S. Senate race is getting the most buzz, however, due in large part to the rumored candidacy by film actress Ashley Judd against Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Longest Current Democratic U.S. Senate Electoral Droughts by State

Rank
State
Last Dem Senator to win
Elected
Years
# Losses
1
Kansas
George McGill
1932
81
29
2
Wyoming
Gale McGee
1970
43
15
3
Utah
Frank Moss
1970
43
14
4
Idaho
Frank Church
1974
39
12
5
Mississippi
John Stennis
1982
31
11
6
Texas
Lloyd Bentsen
1988
25
9
6
Arizona
Dennis DeConcini
1988
25
8
6
Maine
George Mitchell
1988
25
8
9
Oklahoma
David Boren
1990
23
8
9
Tennessee
Al Gore
1990
23
8
11
Alabama
Richard Shelby*
1992
21
6
11
Kentucky
Wendell Ford
1992
21
6
13
South Carolina
Fritz Hollings
1998
15
4
14
Georgia
Zell Miller
2000
13
4
15
Nebraska
Ben Nelson
2006
7
2
16
Alaska
Mark Begich
2008
5
1
16
Arkansas
Mark Pryor
2008
5
1
16
Illinois
Dick Durbin
2008
5
1
16
Iowa
Tom Harkin
2008
5
1
16
Lousiana
Mary Landrieu
2008
5
1
16
New Hampshire
Jeanne Shaheen
2008
5
1
16
North Carolina
Kay Hagan
2008
5
1
16
South Dakota
Tim Johnson
2008
5
1
24
Nevada
Harry Reid
2010
3
1
24
Vermont
Patrick Leahy
2010
3
1
* Richard Shelby switched to the Republican Party in 1994. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: The Longest Republican US Senate Droughts in the Nation
Next post: And the Most Notable First Lady Is...Laura Bush?

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Which States Have the Longest and Shortest Election Day Voting Hours?

Residents in some North Dakota towns have less than half as many hours to cast their ballots as those in New York State.

Political Crumbs

Mary Burke: English First?

While multiculturalism and bilingualism are increasingly en vogue in some quarters as the world seemingly becomes a smaller place, one very high profile 2014 Democratic candidate does not shy away from the fact that she only speaks one language: English. In an attempt to highlight her private sector credentials working for Trek Bicycle, Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mary Burke boasts on her campaign bio page how she made great strides in international business dealings...while only speaking English: "Despite not speaking a single foreign language, she established sales and distribution operations in seven countries over just three years." Note: According to 2010 Census data, nearly half a million Wisconsinites over five years old speak a language other than English at home, or 8.7 percent, while 4.6 percent of Badger State residents do not speak English at all.


Does My Key Still Work?

Much has been made about Charlie Crist's political transformation from Republican to independent to Democrat en route to winning the Florida GOP and Democratic gubernatorial nominations over a span of eight years. Party-switching aside, Crist is also vying to become just the second Florida governor to serve two interrupted terms. Democrat William Bloxham was the first - serving four year terms from 1881 to 1885 and then 1897 to 1901. Florida did not permit governors serving consecutive terms for most of its 123 years prior to changes made in its 1968 constitution. Since then four have done so: Democrats Reubin Askew, Bob Graham, and Lawton Chiles and Republican Jeb Bush.


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