The 1998 United States Senate Elections
The United States Senate is a unique institution in government. It is clearly undemocratic, in the sense that all states are equally represented there. The less than 500,000 voters in North Dakota have two United States Senators, the same as the 22 million eligible voters in California. Inequalities like that are designed to protect minority interests. It's not a bad idea to have a few Senators who come from constituencies small enough that they can only get elected by meeting the voters face to face. Otherwise, the television stations and newspapers will control all the public officials.
Another undemocratic institution, the Electoral College, was designed to keep the election of the President in the hands of the states. Congress has tried to do its best to undermine this fundamental concept through the Federal Election Campaign Act, which gives the federal government control over campaign financing. This unconstitutional legislation is a major threat to democracy in the United States. Your contributions are limited by law, but there's no limit to how much billionaires can spend on their own campaigns. That's why more and more elected officials are millionaires who inherited their wealth and political connections, like Governor Whitman in New Jersey.
In 1997, Governor Whitman, who is running for the Senate, received $1.86 million in state matching campaign funds to run unopposed in the Republican primary. At the same time, Frank G. Marmo, a ballot qualified candidate for Governor, was not allowed into the officially sanctioned debate required of candidates who receive public campaign funds, because he hadn't raised and spent $250,000. This is public campaign financing today. Public subsidies for millionaires, and state sanctioned exclusion for candidates with no money. Sorry for this digression. Back to the Senate.
Anyway, the creation of the United States Senate was the historic compromise necessary to get the United States Constitution ratified. It is the one institution that stands up for the rights of the little guy and minorities, now that the courts have become apologists for the police state.
From a psephological standpoint, the Senate makes every election unique. The three different classes of senators, combined with the six year terms, means that elections in the United States replicate themselves only every 12 years. This means that 1986 was the last election to have the same configuration as the 1998 election. In 1986 Texas had 27 congressional representatives, not 30; and Florida had 19, not 22. So, while Senate districts don't change, internal migrations and reapportionment of the House of Representative districts change the election framework enough that comparisons after a dozen years are basically useless. So, the Senate makes every election unique, although they can be understood by comparing them to each other (over a short time frame) and to themselves.
The Votes - 60% Win with more than 60%
In 1998, Democrats elected 18 Senators and Republicans elected 16. The total number of votes cast for Senate was 53,711,392. Although this was a 6.6% absolute decline from the 57,548,996 votes cast for Senate in 1994, the comparison is not germane seeing as half the states that had Senate races in 1998 did not have Senate races in 1994, and those states that did not have Senate races in 1998 did have them four years before.
In a reversal of the outcome in the Governors races, the Democrats were given a small majority in the Senate races. The Democratic vote total was 26,896,863 compared to the Republican total of 25,679,880 with 1,134,649 votes for the independent candidates. So, the Democrats, with 50.076% of the vote, just managed to squeak to a majority.
But here again, the close margin nationally disguises huge variations locally. Of the 16 winning Republican Senators, 11 won with more than 60% of the vote; and of the 18 winning Democratic Senators 10 won with more than 60% of the vote. So, over 60% of the Senate races were won with over 60% of the vote. That's the message from the United States Senate in 1998. Only 40% of the Senate seats were really contested elections.
So, with so many safe seats, it's not surprising that the party alignment didn't change much. The Democrats gained one seat. The Republicans gained the Senate seats in Ohio and Illinois, and the Democrats gained Senate seats in Indiana, North Carolina and New York. The interesting thing is that 60% of the changes in the Senate came from the mid-western tier of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The Rust Belt is trying to tell the nation something about foreign policy.
There were two other interesting Senate races worth noting: Kentucky and Nevada. In Kentucky, which borders the three mid-western states just mentioned, and almost touches North Carolina, Republican Jim Bunning just barely managed to retain his Senate seat with 49.74% of the vote, less than a majority. This close election was almost exactly mirrored geographically in Nevada, where Democrat Harry Reid retained his seat in the closest election in the nation. Reid defeated Ensign, his Republican opponent by a 401 vote margin, 208,621 to 208,222. Reid won with a smaller percentage, 48.77% than the Democrat Scotty Baesler in Kentucky received when he lost.
The Governor-Senator Comparison
While it is difficult to understand the Senate races by comparing them with previous Senate races, their meaning can be gleaned by comparing them to the Governors races in the same state in the same year. In 1998, 26 states had both Senate and Governor races. Nine states, or more than one third, elected a Governor and Senator from different parties. States that elected Democratic Governors and Republican Senators were Alaska, Georgia, Iowa, and New Hampshiire. Look at the geographic distribution of these four states. All sections of the country are represented. A Pacific coast state, two Atlantic coast states, one in the north and one in the south, and Iowa, in the midwest, a clear indication that the Iowa caucuses, the first event in the presidential selection process, is wide open. The people are looking for new candidates for President in 2000.
The states that elected Republican Governors and Democratic Senators are: Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, New York and South Dakota. Here again, look at the geographic distribution, three Atlantic coastal states, one in New England, one Middle Atlantic, and the third in the South, one in the Mid-west, and one in the far west. All sections of the country are represented. This shows that the potential for nation-wide political change is present. It shows the absence of regional patterns in voting behavior. We're really one country, and the problems look the same everywhere.
But the conclusive proof that the voters are really sharply and closely divided comes from comparing the votes in the 26 states that had both Governors and Senate races in 1998. The same voters that gave the Republicans a 21,867,266 to 20,401,741 edge in the Governors races, gave the Democrats a 21,580,518 to 21,297,105 vote edge in the Senate races. This means not only that the two parties are evenly matched, in spite of the landslide victories both gain in different states, but that voters see the need to use politics to put a balance of powers between the different branches and levels of government.
In 1998, the United States had a Democratic President and a Republican congress; but in the elections they gave the overwhelming number of Governorships to the Republicans, while voting for the Democrats on the national level. On the state level, there are similar splits between the legislature and the statewide elected official
|Ab. Senate 98||Shelby (R)||Suddith (D)||Write-in||Senate 98|
|Alska Senate 98||Murkowski (R)||Sonneman (D)||Kohlhass (Lib)||Gottlieb (Grn)||Write-in votes||Senate 98|
|Az. Sen. 98||McCain (R)||Ranger (D)||Zajadc (Lbt)||Park (Ref)||Reilly (w-i)||Voting 1988||Senate 98|
|Ark. Sen. 1998||Boozman, MD (R)||Lincoln (D)||Heffley (Ref)||Senate 98|
|Ca. Senate 98||Matt Fong (R)||Boxer (D)||T. Brown (Lib)||Perrin (AI)||Beltran (P&F)||Erich (Ref)||Rees (NL)||Senate 1998|
|Co. Senate 98||Campbell (R)||Lamm (D)||Segal (L)||Heckman (CoPeo)||Peckman (NL)||Swanson (Const)||Swing (Pac)||Senate 1998|
|Ct. Senate 98||Gary Franks (R)||Dodd (D)||Kozak (CC)||Moore (L)||Grasso (TL)||Senate 98|
|Fla. Sen. 98||Crist (R)||Graham (D)||Senator 98|
|Ga. Sen. 98||Coverdell (R)||Coles (D)||Loftman (Lib)||Senate 98||Senate 94||(18,877)|
|Ha. Senate 98||Young (R)||Inouye (D)||Jeff Mallan (L)||Voting 1998||Senate 1998|
|Id. Senate 98||Crapo (R)||Bill Mauk (D)||Mansfield (NL)||Voting 1998||Senate 98|
|Ill. Sen. 98||Fitzgerald (R)||Mosley-Braun (D)||Torgersen (L)||Stalker (W-I)||Senate 1998|
|Ind. Senate 98||Paul Helmke (R)||Evan Bayh (D)||Sink-Burris (L)||Voting 1988||Senate 98|
|Iowa Senate 98||Grassley (R)||Osterberg (D)||Marcus (NL)||Trowe (Soc.)||Scattering||Voting 1988||Senate 1998|
|Kan. Sen. 98||Brownback (R)||Feleciano (D)||Oyler (Lib)||Bauman (Ref)||Senate 98|
|Ken. Senate 98||Jim Bunning (R)||Baesler (D)||Arbegust (F)||Senate 98|
|La. Senate 98||Donelon (R)||Breaux (D)||Brown (I)||Melton (D)||Ward (R)||Diket (O)||Rosenthal (O)||Voting 1988||Senate 1998|
|Md. Senate 98||Pierpont (R)||Mikulski (D)||Senate 98||8587|
|Mo. Senate 98||Kit Bond (R)||Jay Nixon (D)||Millay (L)||Frazier (Tax)||Newport (Ref)||Scattered||Senate 94||Voting 1988||Senator 1998||35116|
|Nv Senate 98||Ensign (R)||Harry Reid (D)||Cloud (L)||Williams (NL)||None of These||Voting 1998||Senate 98||14623|
|NH Senator 98||Gregg (R)||Condodemetraky(D)||Kendel (L)||Scatter||Senate 98|
|NY Senator 98||D'Amato (R-C-rtl)||Schumer (D-L-I)||Kurtz (Marij)||Kovel (Green)||Berbeo (SWP)||McMillen (LBT)||Senate 94|
|NC Senate 1998||Faircloth (R)||Edwards (D)||Howe (L)||Registered 88||Senate 1998|
|ND Senate 98||Nalewaja (R)||Dorgan (D)||McLain (Ref)||Voting 1998||Senate 98|
|Ohio Senate 98||Voinovich (R)||Boyle (D)||Hoyt (w-i)||Mitchel (I)||Senate 1998||(97,149)|
|Ok. Senate 98||Don Nickels (R)||Carroll (D)||Mike Morris (I)||Yandell (I)||Votin 1990||Senate 1998|
|Or. Senate 98||John Lim (R)||Ron Wyden (D)||Brewster (L)||Campbell (NL)||Moskowitz (P)||Misc.||Voting 1998||Senate 98|
|Pa. Sen. 98||Specter (R)||Bill Lloyd (D)||Dean Snyder (C)||Innantuono (L)||Write-in||Senate 98|
|SC Senate 98||Billings (R)||Hollings (D)||Quillan (L)||Write-in||Senate 98||18664|
|SD Senate 98||Ron Schmidt (R)||Tom Daschle (D)||Byron Dale (L)||Senator 1998|
|Utah Senate 98||Bennett (R)||Leckman (D)||Van Horn (IA)||Workman (w-i)||1998 Vote||Senate 1994|
|Vt. Senate 98||Tuttle (R)||Leahy (D)||Douglas (L)||Jerry Levy (LU)||Melamede (VG)||Nelson (I)||Write-in||Total vote||Senate 98|
|Wa. Senate 98||Linda Smith (R)||Patty Murray(D)||Senate 1998|
|Wi. Senate 1998||Neumann (R)||Feingold (D)||Ender (Lib)||Raymond (Tax)||Eugene Hem (I)||Scattering||Smith (W-I)||Voting 1988||Senate 98||196,010|
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf