|200520062007 -> |
|Election day||November 7|
|Incumbent president||George W. Bush (Republican)|
|Overall control||Democratic Gain|
|Seats contested||33 of 100 seats|
|Net seat change||Democratic +5|
|2006 Senate election results map|
Democratic gain Republican gain Connecticut for Lieberman gain
Democratic hold Republican hold Independent hold
|Overall control||Democratic Gain|
|Popular vote margin||Democratic +8.0%|
|Net seat change||Democratic +31|
|2006 House election results map |
Democratic hold Republican hold
|Seats contested||38 (36 states, 2 territories)|
|Net seat change||Democratic +6|
|2006 Gubernatorial election results map |
Democratic hold Republican hold
The 2006 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006 in the middle of Republican President George W. Bush's second term. Democrats won control of both houses of Congress, which was the first time either party did so since the 1994 elections.
In the Senate, Democrats won a net gain of six seats to take a narrow majority in that chamber. Democrats picked up 31 seats in the House of Representatives, and after the election Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House. In the gubernatorial elections, Democrats won a net gain of six seats. Nationwide, Republicans failed to win any congressional or gubernatorial seat that was held by a Democrat going into the election.
Reasons for the Democratic Party takeover include the decline of the public image of George W. Bush, the dissatisfaction of his administration's handling of both Hurricane Katrina and the War in Iraq, the beginning of the collapse of the United States housing bubble, Bush's legislative defeat regarding Social Security Privatization, the Republican-controlled Congress's unprecedented and unpopular involvement in the Terri Schiavo case and a series of scandals in 2006 involving Republican politicians.
In March 2003, President George W. Bush ordered an invasion of Iraq, a state which the Bush administration claimed was linked to the September 11 attacks in 2001, and claimed was producing weapons of mass destruction. That May, just two months after the initial invasion, Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq. In the following months, insurgents began resisting the American occupation. Additionally, religious tensions between majority Shiite and minority Sunni Muslims, tensions which had been suppressed under the grip of the Hussein regime, began to result in violence. By the end of 2003, despite the war being initially popular, the post-war occupation was losing support from the American public. A November 2003 Gallup poll showed that Bush's job approval rating had fallen to 50% from a high of 71% at the outset of the war.
The next year, Bush won reelection over Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry with less than 51% of the popular vote and 286 electoral votes (only 16 votes ahead of the 270 votes needed.), the smallest winning margin for an incumbent president since Woodrow Wilson in the 1916 Presidential Election. It was, however, the first time since 1988 that a winner garnered a popular majority. Terrorism and the war in Iraq dominated the election, with domestic issues taking a secondary role. Bush began his second term with a continuation of the occupation and a push to overhaul Social Security with his privatization plan. Both policies proved unpopular, and violence in Iraq continued to increase. Compounding the unpopularity of the war was that no weapons of mass destruction were found. August 2005 was the last time any major public opinion poll recorded majority approval of Bush's job. Negative perceptions of Bush following the slow governmental response to Hurricane Katrina further weighed on his popularity.
Simultaneously, the Republican-controlled 109th Congress's popularity was declining as well. A series of notable congressional scandals also took place in Washington, D.C., including the ongoing Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal as well as the Mark Foley scandal and the Cunningham scandal, both in October 2006. Throughout 2006, sectarian violence was ongoing in Baghdad and other areas of Iraq; many claimed that the conflict was evolving into a civil war. President Bush's job approval rarely rose above 40%. Perceptions of Congress and Republicans in general remained highly negative. Additionally, the Congress had a smaller than average list of major accomplishments (considering that the Party in charge of both the House and Senate also had control of the White House) and was not in session for a larger than average number of days, allowing Democrats and others to characterize it as a "Do-Nothing" congress and blame the Republican leadership for the lack of progress.
The Democratic Party won a majority of the state governorships and the U.S. House and Senate seats each for the first time since 1994, an election-year commonly known as the "Republican Revolution." For the first time since the creation of the Republican party in 1854, no Republican captured any House, Senate, or Gubernatorial seat previously held by a Democrat.
Democrats took a 233-202 advantage in the House of Representatives, and achieved a 49-49 tie in the United States Senate. The Senate figure is sometimes quoted in the media as 51-49, which includes two members who ran as independent candidates Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, who promised to caucus with the Democrats. The final Senate result was decided when Democrat Jim Webb was declared the winner in Virginia against incumbent George Allen, as reported by the Associated Press. On November 9, 2006, Allen and fellow Republican incumbent Sen. Conrad Burns of Montana both conceded defeat, ceding effective control of the Senate to the Democrats.
The election made Nancy Pelosi (D-California) the first-ever female, first-ever Italian-American, and first-ever Californian Speaker of the House and Harry Reid (D-Nevada) the first Mormon Senate Majority Leader.Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota) became the first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) became the first Buddhists in a United States governing body. Although seven states banned recognition of same-sex marriage, Arizona became the first state to reject such a ballot initiative.South Dakota rejected a ban on abortion under almost any circumstances, which was intended to overturn federal constitutional abortion-rights nationwide by setting up a strong test case that proponents hoped would lead to the overruling of Roe v. Wade.
Some of the Republican House and Senate seats lost by the Republicans belonged to members of the Republican Revolution of 1994. Senators Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Representatives Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, John Hostettler of Indiana, Gil Gutknecht of Minnesota, and J. D. Hayworth of Arizona all won previously Democratic seats in 1994 elections and were defeated in 2006. Representative Sue Kelly of New York, also first elected in 1994, was defeated as well. The Democrats also won back the Kansas 2nd and Ohio 18th, both of which they had lost in 1994.
The Democratic Party also claimed a majority of state governorships in the 2006 elections, gaining control of Republican-held governorships in New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, Arkansas, Maryland and Ohio, to give the party a 28-22 advantage in governorships.
Scandals, including the Mark Foley congressional page scandal, the Jack Abramoff scandal, and various allegations of marital infidelity and abuse doomed certain candidates, especially incumbents in PA-10 and NY-20, which hosted one of the most negative campaigns in the country. Virginia Senator George Allen, a potential Republican 2008 Presidential candidate, saw his chances for reelection disappear when he was caught on video using a racial slur to describe a young Indian-American who worked for his opponent's campaign.
Democrats won control of Congress for the first time since the 1994 election, which is commonly known as the "Republican Revolution." For the first time since the creation of the Republican party in 1854, no Republican captured any House, Senate, or Gubernatorial seat previously held by a Democrat.
The 33 seats in the United States Senate Class 1 were up for election. The Democrats gained six Senate seats by defeating Republican Senators in the states of Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia. Including Bernie Sanders and Joe Lieberman, two independents who caucused with the Democrats, Democrats won a 51-to-49 majority in the Senate.
Summary of the November 7, 2006, United States Senate election results [ ]
|Before these elections||55||44||1[a]||--||--||--||--||--||100|
|Class 2 (2002->2008)||21||12||0||--||--||--||--||--||33|
|Class 3 (2004->2010)||19||15||0||--||--||--||--||--||34|
|Held by same party||1||2||1||--||--||--||--||--||4|
|Replaced by other party||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||0|
|Lost re-election|| 6 Republicans replaced
by 6 Democrats
|Lost renomination, held by same party||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||0|
|Lost renomination, and party lost||--|| 1 Democrat re-elected
as an Independent[a]
|Votes (turnout: 29.7 %)||25,437,934||32,344,708||378,142||612,732||295,935||231,899||26,934||1,115,432||60,839,144|
All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives were up for election. The Democrats won the national popular vote by a margin of eight percentage points and gained thirty-one seats from the Republicans.
The election made Nancy Pelosi (D-California) the first-ever female, first-ever Italian-American, and first-ever Californian Speaker of the HouseKeith Ellison (D-Minnesota) became the first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) became the first Buddhists in a United States governing body.
|Voter turnout: 36.8%|
|Sources: Election Statistics - Office of the Clerk|
Of the 50 United States governors, 36 were up for election. Twenty two of those contested seats were held by Republicans, and the remaining 14 were held by Democrats. Of the 36 state governorships up for election, ten were open due to retirement, term limits, or primary loss. Democrats won open Republican-held seats in New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Arkansas and Colorado, in addition to defeating incumbent Bob Ehrlich in Maryland and holding their sole open seat in Iowa. As a result of the 2006 gubernatorial elections, there are now 28 Democratic governors and 22 Republican governors, a reversal of the numbers held by the respective parties prior to the elections.
Additionally, governorships were up for election in the U.S. territories of Guam, held by a Republican, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where the Democratic governor was retiring. In each location, the incumbent party maintained control of the governorship.
Nearly all state legislatures were up for election. Prior to the general elections, with the exception of the nonpartisan Nebraska Legislature, 21 legislatures were controlled by Republicans, 19 by Democrats, and nine were split legislatures (where each house is controlled by a different party). As a result of the 2006 elections, 23 legislatures were carried by Democrats, 17 by Republicans, and 9 legislatures were split. In all, Republicans lost, and Democrats gained, more than 300 state legislative seats. Democrats gained control of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, the Minnesota Legislature, the Iowa General Assembly and the New Hampshire General Court. In New Hampshire's case, both houses of the legislature flipped from the Republicans to the Democrats. The Republicans, meanwhile, did not gain control of any state legislature. Instead, state Republicans lost their majorities in the Wisconsin Senate, the Michigan House of Representatives, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, and the Indiana House of Representatives, turning those legislatures into split bodies. Conversely, Republicans gained control of 2 state houses - the Montana House of Representatives changed from a 50-50 split to a 50-49-1 split, with the lone Constitution Party representative voting for Republican control of that body. Also, the election produced a 26-26 split in the Mississippi Senate, previously under a Democratic majority, with the tie-breaking vote coming from Republican Lieutenant Governor Amy Tuck.
Democrats gained or retained control of the state legislatures and governorships of 15 states, thus creating unified government in Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and West Virginia, although the governorship of Louisiana reverted to the Republicans with the October 2007 election of Bobby Jindal. Republicans now control ten state governments, these being, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah.
Democrats won a veto-proof supermajority in both houses of the Connecticut General Assembly, with Democrats holding a commanding 131-56 majority.
The most dramatic change in party control occurred with the New Hampshire General Court, where Republicans held a 92-seat majority in the lower House and an eight-seat majority in the upper Senate prior to the election. By the end of the evening, Republicans were down 81 seats in the House and five in the Senate, giving control of the General Court to the Democrats. This coincided with the landslide reelection of Democratic Governor John Lynch, the takeover of both of New Hampshire's U.S. House seats by Democrats, and New Hampshire's unique Executive Council gaining a Democratic majority.
Third parties received largely mixed results in the 2006 elections. In the Maine House of Representatives, Green State Representative John Eder was narrowly defeated by Democratic rival Jon Hinck in a bitterly contested campaign over Portland's 118th District. Eder's loss deprived the U.S. Green movement's highest elected position in any state office.
In the Vermont House of Representatives, the Vermont Progressive Party successfully maintained its six seats within the chamber. The Vermont Progressive Party has in recent years become one of the most consistently successful third parties in the U.S. to be elected to higher office.
In Illinois, out of seemingly dissatisfaction of both the candidacies of Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich and Republican candidate Judy Baar Topinka resulted in 10% of the electorate voting for the Green Party candidate Rich Whitney, an accomplishment by all means considering Whitney did not campaign on television or radio.
In Montana, Rick Jore made history becoming the first candidate of the right-wing Constitution Party to be elected to a state legislature, elected to the 12th District in the Montana House of Representatives. Jore initially won in 2004 by three votes, only to see the courts throw out enough ballots to give the Democrat the victory. In the 2006 elections, Jore won convincingly, garnering 56.2% of the vote. However, the Montana Constitution Party is no longer chartered under the national party, denying the United States Constitution Party the claim of holding a higher office.
Voters weighed in on various ballot initiatives. These included:
Numerous other elections for local, city, and county public offices were held.
An unusual local election occurred in South Dakota; Marie Steichen was elected to Jerauld County Commissioner, despite the fact that she died two months before the election. Her name was never replaced on the ballot, and voters who chose her were aware of her death.
In Richmond, California, a city of more than 100,000 residents, the Green Party challenger, City Councilperson Gayle McLaughlin, unseated Democratic incumbent Irma Anderson and will now become the first Green Party Mayor of a city of that size.
Two candidates in Nevada's branch of the Constitution Party, called the Independent American Party (Nevada), were also elected to office. Jackie Berg was elected Eureka County Clerk with 54.1% of the vote, easily topping Republican and Libertarian opposition. Also, Cel Ochoa will be the new Constable in Searchlight, Nevada by virtue of winning 54.93% of the vote to defeat her Republican rival. Another Nevada Independent Party member, Bill Wilkerson, was elected to the Elko, Nevada, School Board, in a non-partisan race.
Beginning just after George W. Bush's reelection, political analysts point to a number of factors and events that led to the eventual Republican defeat in 2006. It is generally agreed that the single most important issue during the 2006 election was the war in Iraq, and more specifically President Bush's handling of it and the overall public weariness over it.
Public opinion polling conducted during the days just before the election and the weeks just after it showed that the war in Iraq was considered the most important election issue by the largest segment of the public. Exit polling showed that relatively large majorities of voters both fell into the category of disapproving of the war or expressing the desire to withdraw troops in some type of capacity. Both brackets broke extremely heavily for Democrats. The issue of the war seemed to play a large part in the nationalization of the election, a departure from previous midterm elections, which tended to be about local, district-centric issues. The effect of this was a general nationwide advantage for Democrats, who were not seen as being as tied to the war as Republicans, led by George Bush, were.
President Bush himself, seen as the leader and face of the Republican party, was a large factor in the 2006 election. Exit polls showed that a large block of the electorate had voted for Democrats or for third parties specifically because of personal opposition to or dislike for Bush. The size of the segment that said it had voted specifically to support Bush was not as large. Opposition to Bush was based on a number of factors, these not limited to opposition to his Social Security privatization plan, the slow response of his administration to Hurricane Katrina, his perceived inaction in the face of and association with rising gas prices, and as mentioned above, his continued commitment to the war.
Congressional approval, which had been slightly negative since before the 2004 election, began a steady drop beginning in March 2005. Congress's unprecedented and unpopular involvement in the Terri Schiavo controversy is often pointed to as the catalyst for this drop. Congressional scandals, such as the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, the sentencing of Duke Cunningham to over eight years in prison, the indictment of then House majority leader Tom DeLay, the corruption of William J. Jefferson and Bob Ney, the misconduct of Cynthia McKinney, and the Mark Foley scandal all continued to pull down congressional popularity. In the months leading up to the election, congressional approval ratings flirted with all-time historical lows. Because congress was controlled by Republicans, this high disapproval affected Republicans much more negatively than it did Democrats.
Democrats were successful in portraying the congress as a lazy, greedy, egotistical and inefficient "Do-Nothing Congress.", which they contrasted with their "New Direction for America" campaign. Indeed, the congress had been in session much less than previous ones had (including those under Republican control), and numerous public opinion polls showed that large majorities believed that the congress had accomplished less than normal. This too, took a toll on Republicans (as the leaders of the government).
The listed scandals were all dwarfed by the highly publicised Mark Foley scandal, which broke in late September and rapidly metastasized to include the House Republican leadership. Florida Representative Mark Foley, who ironically headed the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, was found to have been making sexually lewd and highly inappropriate contacts online with male congressional pages, and it was soon found that members of the Republican leadership knew in some capacity of Foley's advances, yet took little action. The scandal allowed Democrats to adopt corruption as a campaign issue, and exit polls on election day showed that corruption remained an important issue, one that Democrats held an advantage on. In addition, many (at the time and after the fact) cited the scandal as an event that sealed the fate of the Republican congress. After the election, top Republican strategist Karl Rove specifically named the Foley scandal as the cause of the Republicans' loss of congress.
The result was that on election day, many congressional seats had been touched by Republican scandals and were easier to pick up for Democrats than under normal conditions. These include but are not limited to the Montana Senate, Virginia Senate, CA-11, PA-07, PA-10, TX-22, OH-18, FL-16 and NY-20 races.
Almost all of the gains made by Democrats came from large gains among independents, not Republicans. Democrats, Republicans, and independents all accounted for proportions of the electorate similar to what they did in 2004. Democrats and Republicans voted nearly as loyally for their parties in 2006 as they did in 2004, but independents exhibited a large swing towards Democrats. In 2004, independents split 49-46, slightly in favor of Democrats, but in 2006 they voted 57-39 for Democrats, a fifteen-point swing and the largest margin among independents for Democrats since the 1986 elections.
There were scattered reports of problems at polling places across the country as new electronic voting systems were introduced in many states. The problems ranged from voter and election official confusion about how to use new voting machines to apparent political dirty tricks designed to keep certain voters from casting their votes to inclement voter suppressing turnout.
Some reported problems:
Many political analysts concluded that the results of the election were based around President George W. Bush's policies in the War in Iraq and corruption in Congress. At a press conference given to address the election results, President Bush called the cumulative results of the election a "thumpin'" by the Democrats.
Democrats have promised an agenda that includes withdrawing from the war in Iraq, raising the minimum wage, implementing all of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, eliminating subsidies for oil companies, restricting lobbyists, repealing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, lowering interest rates on college loans, expanding stem-cell research, investigating political appointees for actions taken during and leading to the war in Iraq, allowing current tax cuts to expire, and negotiating Medicare prescription drug prices. They planned to legislate these issues within their first 100 legislative hours of power in January 2007. According to Brian Wright, president of Democrasource, LLC (an Ohio-based national political consulting group), "There's no question, the administration and Iraq set the tone for this year. This new balance of power can be a true catalyst to get the country back on track."
Prior to the election in July 2006 Democrats unveiled a six-point plan they promised to enact if elected with congressional majorities. The plan was billed the "Six for 06 agenda" and officially called "A New Direction For America" and compared to the 1994 Republican "Contract with America". The six-points of the plan include: "honest leadership and open government, real security, energy independence, economic prosperity and educational excellence, a healthcare system that works for everyone, and retirement security".
With apparent reference to the impact of the Iraq war policy, in a press conference held on November 8, Bush talked about the election and announced the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Bush stated, "I know there's a lot of speculation on what the election means for the battle we're waging in Iraq. I recognize that many Americans voted last night to register their displeasure with the lack of progress being made there." Prior to the election, Bush had stated that he intended to keep Rumsfeld on as Secretary of Defense until the end of his Presidency. However, Bush then went on to add Rumsfeld's resignation was not due to the Democratic victories on November 8. Rumsfeld's job reportedly had been on the line for several months prior to the election, and the decision for him to stay until after the election, if he was going to be let go at all, was also reportedly made several months earlier. All this led to his resignation.
In the aftermath of the election The Weekly Standard published a number of articles highly critical of how the Republican Party had managed the United States Congress. It called the electoral defeat for the G.O.P. "only a little short" of "devastating" saying the "party of reform ... didn't reform anything" and warned that the Democratic Party has expanded its "geographical sphere of Democratic power" to formerly Republican-held states such as Montana, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, while it solidified former swing states like Illinois as Democratic strongholds. In the New England region, popular Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island was defeated, despite having approval ratings near 60% and Republicans now only control a single district, the CT-04 seat held by Chris Shays, out of 22 congressional districts. The Democrats also became the clear majority in the Mid Atlantic region as well. Two Republican incumbent Congressmen were defeated in New York state and the Democrats picked up a Republican open seat, all from Republican regions upstate, and four Republican Congressmen were defeated in Pennsylvania. Democrats picked up seats in all Northeastern state legislatures holding elections, except Rhode Island, which remained unchanged (and Democrats clearly in the majority), winning a supermajority in both the Connecticut House and Senate, and winning both houses of the New Hampshire legislature for the first time since 1874. Democrats kept both vulnerable Senate seats in Maryland and New Jersey, winning them by wider margins than predicted, and they won the heavily contested Senate seats in Missouri and Virginia.
The Democratic expansion into Indiana, Virginia and Ohio has "seriously diminished the chances for future Republican success" it claimed. The paper, which has been described as the "quasi-official organ of the Bush Administration" also stated that more people would have to "bendover" to get anywhere in a political office and has called on Republicans to move to the center for the sake of the party's future viability saying "conservatives won't want to hear this, but the Republican who maneuvered his way into the most impressive victory ... won ... after moving to the center" and that "the South is not enough space to build a national governing majority".
I'd also like to say a word to the winners of the recent elections in the U.S. :
The United States has had many administrations; some who have left a positive legacy, and others that are neither remembered fondly by the American people nor by other nations.
Now that you control an important branch of the U.S. Government, you will also be held to account by the people and by history.
If the U.S. Government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and Justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America . But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners, although the recent elections, rather than reflecting a victory, in reality point to the failure of the current administration's policies. These issues had been extensively dealt with in my letter to President Bush earlier this year.