2010 U.S. Congressional election

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In November 2010, all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 36 U.S. Senate seats were contested, resulting in a Republican majority in the House but continued Democratic control of the Senate.

A number of incumbents announced they will not run for re-election. Some incumbants declared their candidacy for other offices, while others are retiring from politics. The election, in general, is expected to reflect national opinion (whether satisfaction or dissatisfaction) with the Obama Administration. To some extent, it may also reflect feelings about the major political parties, both of which are reshuffling and subject to protests such as the Tea Party Movement.

The attitudes and participation of young voters, crucial to Barack Obama's win in 2008, may also be an important factor in the upcoming Congressional elections. In 2008, one of the factors which helped secure Barack Obama;s victory was an unusually large turnout among young voters who generally supported him in preference to his Republican opponent. Since then, however, pollsters and commentators have noted a distinct fall-off in both support among this group and in the enthusiasm for political participation.[1]

Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker used the 2010 White House health care summit as metaphor for issues of the entire electoral process.

On one thing, regardless of political affiliation, everyone seems to agree: The gridlock now clutching Washington is unacceptable.

Health-care reform is now about the November election. It's about gamesmanship. And though the parties differ in fundamental ways that really do matter, a growing majority of Americans no longer care who's up or down, who wins or loses. A pox on everyone's house, they say.

...more and more Americans are abandoning traditional political parties, with about 40 percent of the electorate identifying as independents. A perfect storm this way comes. [2]

Some analysts saw effect of change and pressure in the Republican Party, especially from the Tea Party Movement, as splitting the Republican vote. In a special election to fill a vacancy caused by an Obama Administration appointment of Congressman John McHugh to be U.S. Secretary of the Army, the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava to dropped out and endorsed Bill Owens, the winning Democratic contender. Tea Party support had gone to the Conservative Party candidate. [3] Others interpret the Summer 2009 upset victory of Senator Scott Brown (R-Massachusetts) in the interim election to determine who would occupy the seat vacated by the death of longtime Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy in Massachusetts, as a Republican trend.[4]

House of Representatives

Adding to the perceived Democratic Party woes in the early months of 2010 was the continuing Congressional fight over the Health Care Reform package and vocal opposition to the projected reforms. Some commentators were raising the possibility that the losses could be significant enough to shift control of the House and possibly the Senate.

Much of the health care activity centered in the House, where the vote count was close until the final hours. Some, such as Mike Arcuri (D-New York have been told that key allies in close races, such as the Service Employees International Union, will throw their support to challengers due to the health care vote.

Historically, the party in control of the White House has lost seats in the mid-term Congressional elections. On occasion, the losses were large enough to shift the balance of power in the House and/or Senate. A number of commentators raised the possibility that the upcoming elections would be a repeat of the 1994 mid-term elections in which the Democrats lost 54 seats in the house (and with it control of the House) and 9 seats in the Senate. Comparisons to 1994 were disputed by, among others, Bill Clinton, in a September 2009 interview on Meet the Press.[5]

Sarah Palin has been a strong motivator on both sides. She targeted 20 House seats held by Democrats for defeat, using the controversial metaphor "Don't retreat, reload."[6] Four of those Representatives, however, have launched counter-appeals to "send a message to Sarah", such as Suzanne Kosmas of Florida, Chris Carney and Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania, and Betsy Markey of Colorado. [7]


Reasons for retirement range from running for higher office, to scandal, to long tenure and simply being tired of the process. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana), a favorite to be reelected, announced his retirement in frustration with the Senate.

Democrats retiring

The following Democrats are retiring thus leaving their Congressional seats "open:":

+candidate for Governor

§ candidate for U.S. Senate


On the Republican side, the following retirements have been announced:

+candidate for Governor

§ candidate for U.S. Senate or other elective office

Strongly contested seats

Currently held by Democrats

State and District Incumbent Comments
Alabama - 2nd Bobby Bright
Arizona - 5th Harry Mitchell
Arkansas - 1st Marion Berry Open seat
Arkansas - 2nd Vic Snyder
California - 11th Jerry McNerney
Colorado - 4th Betsy Markey
Florida - 8th Alan Grayson
Florida - 24th Suzanne Kosmas
Hawaii - 1st Vacant Open seat; Neil Abercrombie resigned to run for Governor - special election May 22
Idaho - 1st Walt Minnick
Illinois - 14th Bill Foster
Indiana - 8th Brad Ellsworth
Indiana - 9th Baron Hill
Iowa- 3rd Leonard Boswell
Louisiana - 3rd Charlie Melancon
Maryland - 1st Frank Kratovil
Massachusetts - 10th Bill Delahunt Open seat; incumbant is retiring
Michigan - 7th Mark Schauer
Mississippi - 1st Travis Childers
Nevada - 3rd Dina Titus
New Hampshire -1st Carol Shea-Porter
New Hampshire - 2nd Paul Hodes Open seat - incumbent is a candidate for U.S. Senate
New Jersey - 3rd John Adler
New Mexico - 2nd Harry Teague
New York - 19th John Hall
New York - 23rd Bill Owens
New York - 24th Michael Arcuri
New York - 29th Vacant
North Carolina - 8th Larry Kissell
North Dakota - AL Earl Pomeroy
Ohio - 1st Steve Driehaus
Ohio - 15th Mary Jo Kilroy
Ohio - 18th Zack Space
Pennsylvania - 3rd Kathy Dahlkemper
Pennsylvania - 7th Joe Sestak Open seat
Pennsylvania - 10th Chris Carney
Pennsylvania - 11th Paul Kanjorski
Pennsylvania - 12th Vacant Open seat - special election May 18
South Carolina - 5th John Spratt
Tennessee - 8th John Tanner Open seat
Virginia - 2nd Glenn Nye
Virginia - 5th Tom Perriello
Washington - 3rd Brian Baird Open seat - Incumbent is retiring
Wisconisn - 8th Steve Kagen

Currently held by Republicans

State and District Incumbent Comments
California - 3rd Dan Lungren
Illinois - 10th Mark Kirk Open seat - incumbant Kirk is running for U.S. Senate
Minnesota - 6th Michele Bachmann
Nebraska - 2nd Lee Terry
Pennsylvania - 6th Jim Gerlach
Pennsylvania - 15th Charlie Dent
Washington - 8th Dave Reichert

Strong incumbents

Certain incumbents are relatively confident of reelection, but can help candidates outside their constitutencies.



The following Senators are retiring thus leaving their Congressional seats "open:":

+candidate for Governor

§ candidate for U.S. Senate

Strongly contested seats

State and District Incumbent Comments
Arkansas Blanche Lincoln
Colorado Michael Bennet
Illinois Roland Burris Barack Obama's former seat - Burris is retiring
Indiana Evan Bayh Open seat - Bayh is retiring
Kentucky Jim Bunning Open seat - Bunning is retiring
Louisiana David Vitter
Missouri Christopher Bond Open seat - Bond is retiring
New Hampshire Judd Gregg Former state AG Kelly Ayotte is favored to win the Republican primary nomination to run against Rep. Paul Hodes who is retiring from the House to run for the Senate seat left open by the retirement of Republican Sen. Judd Gregg. Primary is September 14.
Nevada Harry Reid Sue Lowden leads several Republicans vying for the right to challenge incumbant Democratic Sen. Harry Reid. Early polls show Lowden leading Reid in a match-up between the two. The primary election is set for June 8.
North Carolina Richard Burr
Ohio George Voinovich Open seat - Voinovich is retiring
Pennsylvania Arlen Specter Elected as a Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter switched parties and is now being challenged in the May 18 Democratic primary by Rep. Joe Sestak. The winner will face off against Republican and former Congressman Pat Toomey in the general election in November.