The 2010 cycle will go down in history for sweeping Republican gains of at least 60 net seats in the House of Representatives and at least 6 seats in the Senate.
And from Demon Sheep to a spelling bee, there were dozens of memorable ads. CQ Roll Call staffers had their favorites, and we did some crowd-sourcing to find out some of the ads that were hard to forget. From simple attacks to goofy stunts that invited parodies, we came up with the 20 ads that represented the midterm elections.
Here's a teaser created by CQ Roll Call's Andrew Satter.
Want to know more? You can watch all of the ads below.
Our Twitter followers nominated this ad by California’s Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, in which he painted Republican rival and former eBay CEO as a clone of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It looks like Sen. Lisa Murkowski will be making history by prevailing in a three-way race to keep her seat as a write-in candidate in Alaska. The rules were pretty tight, so after her loss in the primary to Joe Miller (R), Murkowski set about an education campaign that naturally spawned this spelling bee ad with adorable children.
Sen.-elect Ron Johnson is coming to Washington in January, thanks in part to his simple, positive campaign to portray himself as an accountant who can help fix problems in the Senate. Watch the ad that helped lead to his victory over Sen. Russ Feingold (D) in Wisconsin:
Pundits and politicians alike said Rep. Joe Sestak’s ad reminding Pennsylvania Democrats that Sen. Arlen Specter had been a George W. Bush-endorsed Republican was so brutal it was a major factor in Sestak’s primary victory in May. But that wasn’t enough, and Sestak narrowly lost the seat to former Rep. Pat Toomey. Watch Sestak’s anti-Specter ad:
Another primary winner-turned-loser was Sen. Blanche Lincoln. Lincoln (D-Ark.) had a series of ads making fun of Washington and assuring voters back home she hadn’t forgotten them. She defeated Lt. Gov. Bill Halter in a primary runoff election but lost by double digits Tuesday to Rep. John Boozman. Here’s one of her first ads in the primary.
Rep. Tom Perriello was one of the first Democrats to lose Tuesday night, falling to state Sen. Robert Hurt (R) in Virginia’s 5th district. This is an ad that generated a ton of buzz, since, well, it’s not often you see a politician using poop and a little self-mockery to make a serious point. Watch:
Speaking of making fun of yourself, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) went right at the heart of his “Twitter problem” with this ad. He won re-election with little effort Tuesday.
Rep. Earl Pomeroy (N.D.) tried to emphasize his independence from Democratic leaders in Washington during his closing ad, but it didn't work. Pomeroy was among the longtime lawmakers defeated Tuesday.
While others were backing away from the Obama administration using more subtle means, West Virginia’s Gov. Joe Manchin literally took aim and fired at the Democratic agenda. It worked, and Manchin (D) will be coming to the Senate this month thanks to his special-election victory.
Manchin also exploited a big goof by national Republicans, who used actors in this ad.
Manchin’s response kept the issue alive even after the NRSC and John Raese’s campaign apologized:
Joining Pomeroy in the ads that didn't work category is this one by Tim Burns, who worked to nationalize his Pennsylvania election by running against Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Watch:
Democrats tried to use Sen. David Vitter's problems with prostitutes against him, but Vitter (R) won handily Tuesday in a race against Rep. Charlie Melancon (D). Here was one of Melancon's closing ads going right at the scandal to try to keep it fresh in the minds of Louisiana voters.
Who can forget the first time the words “I’m not a witch” were ever uttered in a television ad? The unusual subject matter didn’t help Christine O’Donnell; she was defeated easily Tuesday by Democrat Chris Coons.
During the Republican Senate primary in California, Carly Fiorina went after Tom Campbell as a “Fiscal Conservative in Name Only,” crafting one of the strangest ads of the cycle. It was a Web ad only, but it dominated the airwaves, created Twitter memes and parodies, and will forever live on in our hearts.
In the can’t make it up category, Rick Barber enjoyed using the Founding Fathers (and weaponry) in his ads. It didn’t work.
On to 2012!
Additional reporting by Ryan Teague Beckwith and the CQ Roll Call politics team.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.