United States elections, 2010

Last updated
2010 United States elections
Midterm elections
Election dayNovember 2
Senate elections
Seats contested34 seats of Class III and 3 special elections
Net changeRepublican +6
2010 Senate election results map.svg
2010 Senate election results map
House elections
Net changeRepublican +63
2010 House elections.svg
2010 House election results map
Gubernatorial elections
Seats contested39 (37 states, 2 territories)
Net changeRepublican +6
2010 gubernatorial election results.svg
2010 Gubernatorial election results map
  Democratic hold
  Democratic pickup
  Independent pickup
  Republican pickups
  Republican hold
Partisan control of Congress
Previous party
Incoming party
House Democratic Republican
Senate Democratic Democratic

The 2010 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 2, 2010, in the middle of Democratic President Barack Obama's first term. During this midterm election year, all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 37 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate were contested in this election along with 39 state and territorial governorships, 46 state legislatures (except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia), [1] four territorial legislatures and numerous state and local races. [2]

Democratic Party (United States) political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

Barack Obama 44th president of the United States

Barack Hussein Obama II is an American attorney and politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the first African American to be elected to the presidency. He previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008.

United States midterm election general elections in the United States that are held two years after the quadrennial elections

Midterm elections in the United States are the general elections that are held near the midpoint of a president's four-year term of office. Federal offices that are up for election during the midterms include all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, and 33 or 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate.


Approximately 82.5 million people voted. [3] The Democratic Party suffered massive defeats in many national and state level elections, with many seats switching to Republican Party control. Although the President's party usually loses congressional, statewide and local seats in midterm elections, the 2010 midterm election season featured some of the biggest losses since the Great Depression. The Republican Party gained 63 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, recapturing the majority, and making it the largest seat change since 1948 and the largest for any midterm election since the 1938 midterm elections. The Republicans gained six seats in the U.S. Senate, expanding its minority, and also gained 680 seats in state legislative races, [4] [5] [6] to break the previous majority record of 628 set by Democrats in the post-Watergate elections of 1974. [6] This left Republicans in control of 26 state legislatures, compared to the 15 still controlled by Democrats. After the election, Republicans took control of 29 of the 50 State Governorships.

Republican Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late-1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

The 2010 midterm election is also the third consecutive midterm election held in a president's first term where Republicans picked up seats across both houses of Congress. It was also the second consecutive midterm election where party control in the House of Representatives changed hands.

Political analysts in October 2010 predicted sweeping Republican gains this election, but despite a reported "enthusiasm gap" between likely Republican and Democratic voters, [7] turnout increased relative to the last U.S. midterm elections without any significant shift in voters' political identification. [8] The swaying views of self-declared independent voters, however, were largely responsible for the shift from Democratic to Republican gains. [9]


Candidates and voters in 2010 focused on national economic conditions and the economic policies of the Obama Administration and Congressional Democrats. Attention was paid to public anger over the Wall Street bailout signed into law by President George W. Bush in late 2008. Voters were also motivated for and against the sweeping reforms of the health care system enacted by Democrats in 2010, as well as concerns over tax rates and record deficits. [10] At the time of the election, unemployment was over 9%, and had not declined significantly since Barack Obama had become President. Further eroding public trust in Congress were a series of scandals that saw Democratic Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters, as well as Republican Senator John Ensign, all accused of unethical and/or illegal conduct in the months leading up to the 2010 election.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, commonly referred to as a bailout of the U.S. financial system, is a law enacted subsequently to the subprime mortgage crisis authorizing the United States Secretary of the Treasury to spend up to $700 billion to purchase distressed assets, especially mortgage-backed securities, and supply cash directly to banks. The funds for purchase of distressed assets were mostly redirected to inject capital into banks and other financial institutions while the Treasury continued to examine the usefulness of targeted asset purchases. Both foreign and domestic banks are included in the program. The Act was proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson during the global financial crisis of 2008 and signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 3, 2008.

George W. Bush 43rd president of the United States

George Walker Bush is an American politician and businessman who served as the 43rd president of the United States from 2001 to 2009. He had previously served as the 46th governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act United States federal statute

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), often shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or nicknamed Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system's most significant regulatory overhaul and expansion of coverage since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

The fiscally-focused and quasi-libertarian Tea Party movement was a vocal force in mobilizing voters for Republican candidates nationwide. Their widespread exposure in the media contributed to the election's focus on economic, rather than social, issues. In the opinion of Fox News political analyst Dick Morris, a "fundamental change" occurred in which social issues did not dominate Republican activism in 2010, because "economic and fiscal issues prevail. The Tea Party has made the Republican Party safe for libertarians." [11]

Tea Party movement American political movement

The Tea Party movement is an American fiscally conservative political movement within the Republican Party. Members of the movement have called for lower taxes, and for a reduction of the national debt of the United States and federal budget deficit through decreased government spending. The movement supports small-government principles and opposes government-sponsored universal healthcare. The Tea Party movement has been described as a popular constitutional movement composed of a mixture of libertarian, right-wing populist, and conservative activism. It has sponsored multiple protests and supported various political candidates since 2009. According to the American Enterprise Institute, various polls in 2013 estimate that slightly over 10 percent of Americans identify as part of the movement.

Fox News American television news channel

Fox News is an American pay television news channel. It is owned by the Fox News Group, which itself was owned by News Corporation from 1996–2013, 21st Century Fox from 2013–2019, and Fox Corporation since 2019. The channel broadcasts primarily from studios at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City. Fox News is provided in 86 countries or overseas territories worldwide, with international broadcasts featuring Fox Extra segments during ad breaks.

Dick Morris American political commentator and consultant

Richard Samuel "Dick" Morris is an American political author and commentator who previously worked as a pollster, political campaign consultant, and general political consultant.

Immigration reform had become an important issue in 2010, particularly following the passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, officially known as the Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. The Act greatly enhanced the power of Arizona's law enforcement agencies to investigate the immigration status of suspected illegal immigrants and to enforce state and national immigration laws. The Act also required immigrants to carry their immigration documentation on their person at all times. Its passage by a Republican-led legislature and its subsequent and very public signing by Jan Brewer, the Republican Governor of Arizona, ignited protests across the Southwest and galvanized political opinion among both pro-immigration Latino groups and Tea Party activists, many of whom supported stronger measures to stem illegal immigration.

Arizona SB 1070 2010 anti-illegal immigration legislative Act

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act is a 2010 legislative Act in the U.S. state of Arizona that at the time of passage in 2010 was the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration measure passed in the United States. It has received international attention and has spurred considerable controversy.

Jan Brewer American politician

Janice Kay Brewer is an American politician and author who served as Governor of Arizona, from 2009 to 2015. A member of the Republican Party, Brewer is the fourth woman, and was the third consecutive woman, to serve as Governor of Arizona. Brewer became governor of Arizona as part of the line of succession, as determined by the Arizona Constitution, when Governor Janet Napolitano resigned to become secretary of Homeland Security. Brewer had served as secretary of state of Arizona from January 2003 to January 2009.

The passage of the controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also contributed to the low approval ratings of Congress, particularly Democrats, in the months leading up to the election. Many Republicans ran on a promise to repeal the law, and beat incumbent Democratic opponents who had voted in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Federal elections

Congressional elections

Senate elections

The 34 seats in the United States Senate Class III were up for election. In addition, the Class II Senate seat in Delaware currently held by Ted Kaufman, the Class I Senate seat in New York currently held by Kirsten Gillibrand, and the Class I seat in West Virginia currently held by Carte Goodwin were contested in special elections resulting from Joe Biden's 2008 election as Vice President of the United States and Hillary Clinton's appointment to the Cabinet as U.S. Secretary of State and their subsequent resignations from the Senate, as well as incumbent Senator Robert Byrd's death and the interim appointment of Goodwin to the Senate. A special election was also held for the Class I seat in Massachusetts, as a result of the death of incumbent Senator Ted Kennedy. The election was held on January 19, 2010, resulting in Republican state senator Scott Brown winning the seat.

House of Representatives elections

All 435 voting seats in the United States House of Representatives were up for election. Additionally, elections were held to select the delegates for the District of Columbia and four of the five U.S. territories. The only seat in the House not up for election was that of the Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico, who serves a four-year term and faced election in 2012.

State elections

Gubernatorial elections

37 state and two territory United States governors were up for election. Elections were also held for the governorships of two U.S. territories. One state, Louisiana, had no campaign for governor but did feature a special election for lieutenant governor. [12] Jerry Brown, a longtime California politician who had been a prominent national political figure since the 1960s, was elected to a third, nonconsecutive term as Governor of California.

Other state-wide officer elections

In many states where the following positions are elected offices, voters elected state executive branch offices (including Lieutenant Governors (though some will be voted for on the same ticket as the gubernatorial nominee), Secretary of state, state Treasurer, state Auditor, state Attorney General, state Superintendent of Education, Commissioners of Insurance, Agriculture or, Labor, etc.) and state judicial branch offices (seats on state Supreme Courts and, in some states, state appellate courts).

State legislative elections

All states except Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia held elections for their state legislatures. [13] Republicans made substantial gains in state legislatures across the nation. Twenty chambers flipped from Democratic to Republican control, giving Republicans full control of eleven state legislatures and control of one chamber in Colorado, Iowa and New York.1 [14] Additionally, Republicans gained enough seats in the Oregon House to produce a 30-30 party split, pushing Democrats into a power-sharing agreement that resulted in the election of two "co-speakers" (one from each party) to lead the chamber. [15]

Six states saw both chambers switch from Democrat to Republican majorities: Alabama (where the Republicans won a majority for the first time in 136 years), Maine (for the first time since 1964), Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina (for the first time since 1896), and Wisconsin. In addition, by picking up the lower chambers in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Montana and Pennsylvania, Republicans gained control of both chambers in an additional five states. Further, Republicans picked up one chamber from Democrats in Colorado, Iowa, and New York to split control in those states. They expanded majorities in both chambers in Texas, Florida, and Georgia. The massive Republican victories in legislative races would be widely expected to have a major impact on the redrawing of Congressional districts for the 2012 election cycle.

One of the few bright spots for Democrats was retaining their majorities in both the California and Illinois legislatures.


Local elections

On November 2, 2010, various cities, counties, school boards, and special districts (in the United States) witnessed elections. Some elections were high-profile.

High-profile mayoral elections are listed below:

Table of federal and state results

Bold indicates a change in control. Note that not all states held gubernatorial, state legislative, and United States Senate elections in 2014.

State [19] Before 2010 elections [20] After 2010 elections [21]
State PVI GovernorState leg. US Senate US House GovernorState leg. US Senate US House
Alabama R+13RepDemRepRep 5–2RepRepRepRep 6–1
Alaska R+13RepSplitSplitRep 1–0RepSplitSplitRep 1–0
Arizona R+6RepRepRepDem 5–3RepRepRepRep 5–3
Arkansas R+9DemDemDemDem 3–1DemDemSplitRep 3–1
California D+7RepDemDemDem 34–19DemDemDemDem 34–19
Colorado EvenDemDemDemDem 5–2DemSplitDemRep 4–3
Connecticut D+7RepDemSplit D/I [22] Dem 5–0DemDemSplit D/I [22] Dem 5–0
Delaware D+7DemDemDemRep 1–0DemDemDemDem 1–0
Florida R+2IndRepSplitRep 15–10RepRepSplitRep 19–6
Georgia R+7RepRepRepRep 7–6RepRepRepRep 8–5
Hawaii D+12RepDemDemSplit 1–1DemDemDemDem 2–0
Idaho R+17RepRepRepSplit 1–1RepRepRepRep 2–0
Illinois D+8DemDemDemDem 12–7DemDemSplitRep 11–8
Indiana R+6RepSplitSplitDem 5–3RepRepRepRep 6–3
Iowa D+1DemDemSplitDem 3–2RepSplitSplitDem 3–2
Kansas R+11DemRepRepRep 3–1RepRepRepRep 4–0
Kentucky R+10DemSplitRepRep 4–2DemSplitRepRep 4–2
Louisiana R+10RepDemSplitRep 6–1RepSplitSplitRep 6–1
Maine D+5DemDemRepDem 2–0RepRepRepDem 2–0
Maryland D+9DemDemDemDem 7–1DemDemDemDem 6–2
Massachusetts D+12DemDemSplitDem 10–0DemDemSplitDem 10–0
Michigan D+4DemSplitDemDem 8–7RepRepDemRep 9–6
Minnesota D+2RepDemDemDem 5–3DemRepDemSplit 4–4
Mississippi R+10RepDemRepDem 3–1RepDemRepRep 3–1
Missouri R+3DemRepSplitRep 5–4DemRepSplitRep 6–3
Montana R+7DemSplitDemRep 1–0DemRepDemRep 1–0
Nebraska R+13Rep NP SplitRep 3–0RepNPSplitRep 3–0
Nevada D+1RepDemSplitDem 2–1RepDemSplitRep 2–1
New Hampshire D+2DemDemSplitDem 2–0DemRepSplitRep 2–0
New Jersey D+4RepDemDemDem 8–5RepDemDemDem 7–6
New Mexico D+2DemDemDemDem 3–0RepDemDemDem 2–1
New York D+10DemDemDemDem 26–2DemSplitDemDem 21–8
North Carolina R+4DemDemSplitDem 8–5DemRepSplitDem 7–6
North Dakota R+10RepRepDemDem 1–0RepRepSplitRep 1–0
Ohio R+1DemSplitSplitDem 10–8RepRepSplitRep 13–5
Oklahoma R+17DemRepRepRep 4–1RepRepRepRep 4–1
Oregon D+4DemDemDemDem 4–1DemSplitDemDem 4–1
Pennsylvania D+2DemSplitDemDem 12–7RepRepSplitRep 12–7
Rhode Island D+11RepDemDemDem 2–0IndDemDemDem 2–0
South Carolina R+8RepRepRepRep 4–2RepRepRepRep 5–1
South Dakota R+9RepRepSplitDem 1–0RepRepSplitRep 1–0
Tennessee R+9DemRepRepDem 5–4RepRepRepRep 7–2
Texas R+10RepRepRepRep 20–12RepRepRepRep 23–9
Utah R+20RepRepRepRep 2–1RepRepRepRep 2–1
Vermont D+13RepDemSplit D/I [23] Dem 1–0DemDemSplit D/I [23] Dem 1–0
Virginia R+2RepSplitDemDem 6–5RepSplitDemRep 8–3
Washington D+5DemDemDemDem 6–3DemDemDemDem 5–4
West Virginia R+8DemDemDemDem 2–1DemDemDemRep 2–1
Wisconsin D+2DemDemDemDem 5–3RepRepSplitRep 5–3
Wyoming R+20DemRepRepRep 1–0RepRepRepRep 1–0
United StatesEvenDem 26–23Dem 27–14Dem 59–41Dem 255–178Rep 29–20Rep 25–16Dem 53–47Rep 242–193

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  2. "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010" (PDF). U.S. House of Reps, Office of the Clerk. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  3. Tomasky, Michael (November 3, 2010). "Turnout: says a lot". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
  4. "In Redistricting Year, GOP Gains a Big Edge". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  5. "Four More Lessons from the GOP Landslide". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  6. 1 2 "Devastation: GOP Picks Up 680 State Leg. Seats". November 4, 2010. Archived from the original on October 28, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  7. Jonathan Weisman (October 20, 2010). "GOP in Lead in Final Lap". Wall Street Journal.
  8. "It's the Ideology, Stupid: Midterm elections". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
  9. "Women, Independent Voters Show Biggest Swing From 2008". Fox News. November 3, 2010.
  10. Jeffrey M. Jones, "Americans Give GOP Edge on Most Election Issues; Greatest Republican advantages on terrorism, immigration, federal spending", Gallup, September 1, 2010
  11. ""The New Republican Right", TheHill.com". Realclearpolitics.com. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
  12. See Louisiana state elections, 2010.
  13. "2010 Primary Dates and Seats Up". September 23, 2009. Archived from the original on January 28, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  14. Storey, Tim. "GOP Makes Historic State Legislative Gains in 2010". Rasmussen Reports. Rasmussen Report, LLC. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  15. Cole, Michelle (Jan 11, 2011). "Oregon House makes history by electing two co-speakers". The Oregonian. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  16. Voters say 'yes' to home rule - News. Standard Speaker (2010-11-03). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
  17. "Luzerne County : Election Results Archive". www.luzernecounty.org. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  18. timesleadervideo (2 January 2012). "Luzerne County Council members sworn in - The Times Leader reports" . Retrieved 18 March 2018 via YouTube.
  19. "Partisan Voter Index by State, 1994-2014" (PDF). Cook Political Report. Retrieved 19 May 2016. PVI in 2010
  20. "2010 State and Legislative Partisan Composition" (PDF). National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  21. "2011 State and Legislative Partisan Composition" (PDF). National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  22. 1 2 Joe Lieberman was elected as an independent but continued to caucus with Senate Democrats. Connecticut's other Senator was a Democrat.
  23. 1 2 Bernie Sanders was elected as an independent but caucused with Senate Democrats. Vermont's other Senator was a Democrat.

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