Retirements Create Historically Big ‘Open Seat’ Gap for Senate Republicans

Posted October 12, 2007 at 12:00am

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Senate “open seats” since 1988
– 2008 (to date)
Democrats: 0 open seats
Republicans: 5 open seats
– 2006
Democrats: 3 open seats, lost 0
Republicans: 1 open seat, lost 0
Note: Jeffords switched from the Republican Party to become an independent in 2001, but aligned for the remainder of his Senate career with the Democrats. His open seat in 2006 is thus listed from the purposes of this study as a Democratic seat. The winner of the 2006 election to succeed Jeffords was Bernard Sanders, another Democratic-aligned independent.
– 2004
Democrats: 5 open seats, lost 5
Florida (Bob Graham)
Georgia (Zell Miller)
Louisiana (John B. Breaux)
North Carolina (John Edwards)
South Carolina (Ernest F. Hollings)
Republicans: 3 open seats, lost 2
Colorado (Ben Nighthorse Campbell)
Illinois (Peter G. Fitzgerald)
– 2002
Democrats: 2 open seats, lost 1
Minnesota (Paul Wellstone)
Republicans: 5 open seats, lost 0
Note: Smith was defeated in the Republican primary.
2000
Democrats: 4 open seats, lost 1
Nevada (Richard H. Bryan)
Republicans: 1 open seat, lost 1
Florida (Connie Mack)
– 1998
Democrats: 3 open seats, lost 2
Kentucky (Wendell Ford)
Ohio (John Glenn)
Republicans: 2 open seats, lost 1
Indiana (Dan Coats)
– 1996
Democrats: 8 open seats, lost 3
Alabama (Howell Heflin)
Arkansas (David Pryor)
Nebraska (Jim Exon)
Republicans: 6 open seats, lost 0
Note: Frahm, who was appointed to the Senate in 1996, lost a Republican primary that August. List does not include a second Senate race in Oregon, where the September 2005 resignation of Republican Sen. Bob Packwood necessitated a special election in January 1996 that was won by Democrat Ron Wyden
– 1994
Democrats: 6 open seats, lost 6
Arizona (Dennis DeConcini)
Maine (George J. Mitchell)
Michigan (Donald W. Riegle Jr.)
Ohio (Howard M. Metzenbaum)
Oklahoma (David L. Boren)
Tennessee (Harlan Mathews)
Republicans: 3 open seats, lost 0
– 1992
Democrats: 6 open seats, lost 0
Republicans: 3 open seats, lost 0
Note: Dixon was defeated in the Democratic primary. Burdick was appointed in September 1992 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of her husband, Democrat Quentin Burdick; she was not a candidate in a December 1992 special election won by Conrad, who had originally planned to retire from North Dakota’s other Senate seat at the end of 1992, but chose to run for Burdick’s seat. Democrat Byron L. Dorgan was elected to the Senate seat that Conrad technically left open.
– 1990
Democrats: no open seats
Republicans: 3 open seats, lost 0
– 1988
Democrats: 3 open seats, lost 2
Florida (Lawton Chiles)
Mississippi (John C. Stennis)
Republicans: 3 open seats, lost 1
Virginia (Paul S. Trible Jr.)