2010 United States elections
|← 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 → |
|Election day||November 2|
|Incumbent president||Barack Obama (Democratic)|
|Overall control||Democratic hold|
|Seats contested||38 of 100 seats|
(34 seats of Class III + 5 special elections)
|Net seat change||Republican +6|
|2010 Senate election results map |
Democratic hold Republican hold
|Overall control||Republican gain|
|Seats contested||All 435 voting seats|
|Popular vote margin||Republican +6.8%|
|Net seat change||Republican +63|
|2010 House election results map |
Democratic hold Republican hold
Democratic gain Republican gain
|Seats contested||39 (37 states, 2 territories)|
|Net seat change||Republican +6|
|2010 Gubernatorial election results map |
Democratic gain Republican gain
Democratic hold Republican hold
The 2010 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 2, 2010, in the middle of Democratic President Barack Obama's first term. Republicans ended unified Democratic control of Congress and the presidency by winning a majority in the House of Representatives.
Republicans gained seven seats in the Senate (including a special election held in January 2010) but failed to gain a majority in the chamber. In the House of Representatives, Republicans won a net gain of 63 seats, the largest shift in seats since the 1948 elections. In state elections, Republicans won a net gain of six gubernatorial seats and flipped control of twenty state legislative chambers, giving them a substantial advantage in the redistricting that occurred following the 2010 United States Census. The election was widely characterized as a "Republican wave" election.
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. 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 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."
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.
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.
The 34 seats in the United States Senate Class III were up for election. In addition, the Class I/II seats held by appointed Senators Ted Kaufman of Delaware, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, and Carte Goodwin of West Virginia were contested in special elections on the same day. Republicans picked up six seats, but Democrats retained a majority in the Senate.
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. Republicans won the nationwide popular vote for the House of Representatives by a margin of 6.8 points and picked up 63 seats, taking control of the chamber for the first time since the 2006 elections. This represented the largest single-election shift in House seats since the 1948 elections and the largest midterm election shift since the 1938 elections. The only seat Democrats flipped was Delaware's lone congressional seat, going to former Lt. Governor John C. Carney Jr. 
37 state and two territory United States governors were up for election. Republicans picked up a net of six state governorships; Democrats won control of five governorships previously controlled by Republicans, but Republicans took 11 governorships.
Other statewide 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. 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 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. Republicans gained a total of 680 seats in state legislative races, breaking the previous record of 628 flipped seats set by Democrats in the post-Watergate elections of 1974.
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[a] 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.
On November 2, 2010, various cities, counties, school boards, and special districts (in the United States) witnessed elections. Some elections were high-profile.
- Luzerne County, Pennsylvania: The voters of Luzerne County adopted a home rule charter by a margin of 51,413 to 41,639. This changed the county’s government from a board of county commissioners to a council-manager form of government. The following year (in 2011), the first general election for the new assembly was held. The first council members were sworn in on January 2, 2012.
High-profile mayoral elections are listed below:
- Honolulu, Hawaii: Incumbent mayor Mufi Hannemann resigned on July 20, 2010, to run for Governor of Hawaii. The city's Managing Director Kirk Caldwell served as acting mayor until Peter Carlisle was elected in a special election on September 18.
- Louisville, Kentucky: Incumbent mayor Jerry Abramson declined to run for a third consecutive term in order to run for Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky in 2011. Greg Fischer was elected as the successor.
- New Orleans, Louisiana: Incumbent mayor Ray Nagin was term-limited out of office. Mitch Landrieu was elected as the new mayor on February 6.
- Washington, D.C: Incumbent mayor Adrian Fenty was defeated in the Democratic primary by Vincent C. Gray, who then went on to win the general election.
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 2010.
|State||Before 2010 elections||After 2010 elections|
|State||PVI||Governor||State leg.||US Senate||US House||Governor||State leg.||US Senate||US House|
|Alabama||R+13||Rep||Dem||Rep||Rep 5–2||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 6–1|
|Alaska||R+13||Rep||Split||Split||Rep 1–0||Rep||Split||Split||Rep 1–0|
|Arizona||R+6||Rep||Rep||Rep||Dem 5–3||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 5–3|
|Arkansas||R+9||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 3–1||Dem||Dem||Split||Rep 3–1|
|California||D+7||Rep||Dem||Dem||Dem 34–19||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 34–19|
|Colorado||Even||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 5–2||Dem||Split||Dem||Rep 4–3|
|Connecticut||D+7||Rep||Dem||Split D/I[b]||Dem 5–0||Dem||Dem||Split D/I[b]||Dem 5–0|
|Delaware||D+7||Dem||Dem||Dem||Rep 1–0||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 1–0|
|Florida||R+2||Ind||Rep||Split||Rep 15–10||Rep||Rep||Split||Rep 19–6|
|Georgia||R+7||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 7–6||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 8–5|
|Hawaii||D+12||Rep||Dem||Dem||Split 1–1||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 2–0|
|Idaho||R+17||Rep||Rep||Rep||Split 1–1||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 2–0|
|Illinois||D+8||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 12–7||Dem||Dem||Split||Rep 11–8|
|Indiana||R+6||Rep||Split||Split||Dem 5–3||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 6–3|
|Iowa||D+1||Dem||Dem||Split||Dem 3–2||Rep||Split||Split||Dem 3–2|
|Kansas||R+11||Dem||Rep||Rep||Rep 3–1||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 4–0|
|Kentucky||R+10||Dem||Split||Rep||Rep 4–2||Dem||Split||Rep||Rep 4–2|
|Louisiana||R+10||Rep||Dem||Split||Rep 6–1||Rep||Split||Split||Rep 6–1|
|Maine||D+5||Dem||Dem||Rep||Dem 2–0||Rep||Rep||Rep||Dem 2–0|
|Maryland||D+9||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 7–1||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 6–2|
|Massachusetts||D+12||Dem||Dem||Split||Dem 10–0||Dem||Dem||Split||Dem 10–0|
|Michigan||D+4||Dem||Split||Dem||Dem 8–7||Rep||Rep||Dem||Rep 9–6|
|Minnesota||D+2||Rep||Dem||Dem||Dem 5–3||Dem||Rep||Dem||Split 4–4|
|Mississippi||R+10||Rep||Dem||Rep||Dem 3–1||Rep||Dem||Rep||Rep 3–1|
|Missouri||R+3||Dem||Rep||Split||Rep 5–4||Dem||Rep||Split||Rep 6–3|
|Montana||R+7||Dem||Split||Dem||Rep 1–0||Dem||Rep||Dem||Rep 1–0|
|Nebraska||R+13||Rep||NP||Split||Rep 3–0||Rep||NP||Split||Rep 3–0|
|Nevada||D+1||Rep||Dem||Split||Dem 2–1||Rep||Dem||Split||Rep 2–1|
|New Hampshire||D+2||Dem||Dem||Split||Dem 2–0||Dem||Rep||Split||Rep 2–0|
|New Jersey||D+4||Rep||Dem||Dem||Dem 8–5||Rep||Dem||Dem||Dem 7–6|
|New Mexico||D+2||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 3–0||Rep||Dem||Dem||Dem 2–1|
|New York||D+10||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 26–2||Dem||Split||Dem||Dem 21–8|
|North Carolina||R+4||Dem||Dem||Split||Dem 8–5||Dem||Rep||Split||Dem 7–6|
|North Dakota||R+10||Rep||Rep||Dem||Dem 1–0||Rep||Rep||Split||Rep 1–0|
|Ohio||R+1||Dem||Split||Split||Dem 10–8||Rep||Rep||Split||Rep 13–5|
|Oklahoma||R+17||Dem||Rep||Rep||Rep 4–1||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 4–1|
|Oregon||D+4||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 4–1||Dem||Split||Dem||Dem 4–1|
|Pennsylvania||D+2||Dem||Split||Dem||Dem 12–7||Rep||Rep||Spilt||Rep 12–7|
|Rhode Island||D+11||Rep||Dem||Dem||Dem 2–0||Ind||Dem||Dem||Dem 2–0|
|South Carolina||R+8||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 4–2||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 5–1|
|South Dakota||R+9||Rep||Rep||Split||Dem 1–0||Rep||Rep||Split||Rep 1–0|
|Tennessee||R+9||Dem||Rep||Rep||Dem 5–4||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 7–2|
|Texas||R+10||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 20–12||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 23–9|
|Utah||R+20||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 2–1||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 2–1|
|Vermont||D+13||Rep||Dem||Split D/I[c]||Dem 1–0||Dem||Dem||Split D/I[c]||Dem 1–0|
|Virginia||R+2||Rep||Split||Dem||Dem 6–5||Rep||Split||Dem||Rep 8–3|
|Washington||D+5||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 6–3||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 5–4|
|West Virginia||R+8||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 2–1||Dem||Dem||Dem||Rep 2–1|
|Wisconsin||D+2||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem 5–3||Rep||Rep||Split||Rep 5–3|
|Wyoming||R+20||Dem||Rep||Rep||Rep 1–0||Rep||Rep||Rep||Rep 1–0|
|United States||Even||Dem 26–23||Dem 27–14||Dem 59–41||Dem 255–178||Rep 29–20||Rep 25–16||Dem 53–47||Rep 242–193|
|N. Mariana Islands||CP||Rep||Ind[f]||CP||Rep||Dem[g]|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem||Dem|
|Subdivision||PVI||Governor||State leg.||U.S. Senate||U.S. House||Governor||State leg.||U.S. Senate||U.S. House|
|Subdivision and PVI||Before 2010 elections||After 2010 elections|
- Prior to the 2010 election, the 100 seats in the Montana House of Representatives were evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, but the Democratic Party controlled the chamber by virtue of holding the governor's office.
- Joe Lieberman was elected as an independent but continued to caucus with Senate Democrats. Connecticut's other Senator was a Democrat.
- Bernie Sanders was elected as an independent but caucused with Senate Democrats. Vermont's other Senator was a Democrat.
- Washington, D.C. does not elect a governor or state legislature, but it does elect a mayor and a city council.
- Although elections for governor of American Samoa are non-partisan, Governor Togiola Tulafono affiliates with the Democratic party at the national level.
- Northern Marianas Islands Delegate Gregorio Sablan was elected as an independent in 2008 and caucused with the Democrats in Congress after taking office in 2009.
- Sablan was re-elected as a Democrat in 2010.
- Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuño is a member of the New Progressive Party but affiliates with the Republican Party at the national level.
- Puerto Rico's Resident Commissioner, Pedro Pierluisi, was elected as a member of the New Progressive Party and has caucused with the Democrats since taking office in 2009.
- The Class 2 Senate seat in Illinois held concurrent regular and special elections in November 2010. That special election is not included in the total number of seats contested.
- Jeffrey M. Jones, "Americans Give GOP Edge on Most Election Issues; Greatest Republican advantages on terrorism, immigration, federal spending", Gallup, September 1, 2010
- ""The New Republican Right", TheHill.com". Realclearpolitics.com. 2010-10-20. Retrieved 2013-04-20.
- "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 2, 2010" (PDF). U.S. House of Reps, Office of the Clerk. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
- "In Redistricting Year, GOP Gains a Big Edge". November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
- "Four More Lessons from the GOP Landslide". November 4, 2010. Archived from the original on November 8, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
- "2010 Primary Dates and Seats Up". September 23, 2009. Archived from the original on January 28, 2010. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
- Storey, Tim. "GOP Makes Historic State Legislative Gains in 2010". Rasmussen Reports. Rasmussen Report, LLC. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
- Cole, Michelle (Jan 11, 2011). "Oregon House makes history by electing two co-speakers". The Oregonian. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
- "Devastation: GOP Picks Up 680 State Leg. Seats". November 4, 2010. Archived from the original on October 28, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
- Voters say 'yes' to home rule - News. Standard Speaker (2010-11-03). Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
- "Luzerne County : Election Results Archive". www.luzernecounty.org. Archived from the original on 11 January 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
- timesleadervideo (2 January 2012). "Luzerne County Council members sworn in - The Times Leader reports". Archived from the original on 2021-11-17. Retrieved 18 March 2018 – via YouTube.
- Tomasky, Michael (November 3, 2010). "Turnout: says a lot". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 3, 2010.
- "It's the Ideology, Stupid: Midterm elections". The New Republic. November 4, 2010. Retrieved November 4, 2010.
- "Partisan Voter Index by State, 1994-2014" (PDF). Cook Political Report. Retrieved 19 May 2016. PVI in 2010
- "2010 State and Legislative Partisan Composition" (PDF). National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- "2011 State and Legislative Partisan Composition" (PDF). National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
- Abramson, Paul; Aldrich, John; Rohde, David (2010). Change and Continuity in the 2008 Elections. doi:10.4135/9781483330846. ISBN 9781604265200.
- Bullock, Charles S., et al. Key States, High Stakes: Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, and the 2010 Elections (2011)
- Jacobson, Gary C. (2011). "The Republican Resurgence in 2010". Political Science Quarterly. 126: 27–52. doi:10.1002/j.1538-165X.2011.tb00693.x.
- Sabato, Larry. Who Got in the Booth? A Look Back at the 2010 Elections (2011)
- 2010 Midterm Election Debates on C-SPAN
- Wesleyan Media Project: 2010 Political Advertising Analysis at Wesleyan University
- National newspapers
- National radio
- National TV