Democrats enjoy a big night after a hard-to-read election
They beat history and pick up five House seats
(AllPolitics, November 3) -- In a surprise turnabout, Democrats not only held their own but gained seats in Congress in Tuesday's off-year election, though they didn't do well enough to wrest control back from the Republicans.
By CNN estimates, Democrats picked up five seats in the House of Representatives. It is the first time since 1934 that the party controlling the White House gained seats midway through a president's second term.
Early Tuesday, only one race was still undecided, Oregon's first congressional district.
Democrats found plenty to smile about in Tuesday results, with big wins in New York, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, California and Washington state. The Democrats were able to chalk up victories in some tough races that looked just days ago like they could go either way.
In New York, Democratic Rep. Charles Schumer beat incumbent Republican Sen. Al D'Amato in what was perhaps the nastiest race in the country. Schumer benefited from help from President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton, who came to New York City repeatedly to energize Democratic voters.
In South Carolina, Democratic Sen. Fritz Hollings won re-election against a tough challenge from Rep. Bob Inglis, and Democrat Jim Hodges unseated incumbent Republican Gov. David Beasley in a race marked by controversy over state-authorized gambling.
In Alabama, Democratic Lt. Gov. Don Siegelman won an expected victory over incumbent Republican Gov. Fob James, and in Arkansas, Democrat Blanche Lincoln beat Republican Fay Boozman. She will succeed Democratic Sen. Dale Bumpers , who is retiring. In another Southern win, Democrat Roy Barnes beat Republican Guy Millner in the open Georgia governor's race.
On the West Coast, California Sen. Barbara Boxer held on to win a second term over Republican Matt Fong, and Sen. Patty Murray defeated Republican Linda Smith in Washington.
"The mood is really upbeat," said one senior White House official. "Given what we've gone through the past few months, the outcome is truly remarkable. Think about all of the predictions, the ones that said Republicans would sweep to a huge majority. It didn't happen,"
Roy Romer, general chairman of the Democratic Party, proclaimed, "We didn't just do well, we did well against history and against dollars."
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live," said she was pleasantly surprised at the results. "The issues are with the Democrats," Feinstein said.
But House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who easily won re-election in his suburban Atlanta district, said when the night was over, Republicans would again control the House.
"This will be the first time in 70 years that Republicans kept control of the House for a third term," Gingrich said. "We will gain seats this evening as the evening goes on."
House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, appearing on CNN, said it would be "a historic reversal" if Democrats hold steady or even gain a few seats. He said what drove the results was voters' interest in electing a Congress that works on health care, education and Social Security issues.
"People stood up and said something tonight," Gephardt said.
Republicans saw their hopes evaporate for reaching 60 votes in the Senate, the threshold needed to cut off debate and move legislation unimpeded.
In Indiana, former Gov. Evan Bayh, a Democrat, easily beat Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke for the Senate seat, but that had been expected.
Other winners included Republican George Voinovich, who captured retiring Ohio Sen. John Glenn's seat, and Republican Jeb Bush, who beat Democrat Buddy MacKay in the Florida governor's race. Bush, son of the former president, succeeds outgoing Democrat Lawton Chiles. Jeb Bush's brother, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, also a Republican, easily won re-election.
Thirty-four U.S. Senate seats, 36 governorships and all 435 House seats were up in Tuesday's balloting, but no single national issue -- especially not Monica Lewinsky or the pending House impeachment inquiry -- became the pivotal point on which Election '98 would turn.
The right direction
Exit polls showed 55 percent of voters approved of Clinton's job performance, while 60 percent had an unfavorable view of him as a person. And 60 percent of voters who were surveyed said they thought the country was moving in the right direction.
Instead, the election was a pastiche of hundreds of local races, with factors like who was retiring, who had the most campaign money for the final push and who could buy the most TV ads likely to affect the final outcome.
Republicans had hoped an energized base of anti-Clinton voters would show up to vote. In a last-minute strategy shift, the Republicans ran TV ads late last week in some targeted districts questioning President Clinton's trustworthiness, hoping that would boost turnout.
Democrats hoped that the GOP strategy would backfire and instead bring out a sizable bloc of people who wish they had never heard of Independent Counsel Ken Starr or Lewinsky.
Most voters told pollsters they would not be trying to send a message about Clinton or the impeachment inquiry when they cast their ballots.
In a final pre-election CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll over the weekend, about one-quarter of likely voters said they would be sending a message of opposition to Clinton and another one-quarter a message of support, but 52 percent said the scandal would not be a factor in their vote.
Outside Washington, in places like Albany, Sacramento and Tallahassee, the election had import, too.
Who controls governors' mansions and state legislatures is even more important heading into the 2000 census, which will provide raw numbers for the ultimate political power struggle: the once-a-decade process of redistricting.
Offices where party control switched
Dems poured big bucks into final get-out-the-vote drive
Turnout approaches 38 percent
Minorities see ups, downs in results
Clinton happy with midterm election results
How voters see Lewinsky scandal
Schumer topples D'Amato in New York Senate race
Edwards unseats Faircloth in tight North Carolina race
Moseley-Braun loses to Republican Fitzgerald
Democratic Boxer wins fight for Senate seat
Washington's Murray heads back to the Senate
Incumbent Hollings wins close race in South Carolina
Bunning ekes out win against Baesler
Reid defends Democratic Senate seat in Nevada
Coverdell outdistances Democratic Senate opponent
Campbell wins Colorado
Lincoln defeats Boozman, Dems retain Arkansas Senate seat
Gov. Voinovich wins Senate race in Ohio, defeats Democrat Boyle
Democrat Bayh easily defeats Helmke in Indiana
Analysis: Moderation sweeps the Senate
Democrat Inslee bests incumbent White for Washington House seat
Affair doesn't dampen support for Idaho's Chenoweth
Democrats hold on to Colorado's 2nd district
Sanchez trumps Dornan again in California House race
Udall wins Redmond's New Mexico House seat
Tradeoff in the bluegrass: Parties switch Kentucky House seats
Familiar faces still around the House
Baldwin breaks barrier, becomes first openly lesbian House member
Second time the charm for Hoeffel in Pennsylvania House race
Berkley takes Las Vegas House seat for Democrats
Open Mississippi House seat goes to Democrat Shows
House leader Bonior fends off GOP challenge in Michigan
Snowbarger's Kansas district picked up by Democrat Moore
Green pulls Republican upset in Wisconsin
Simpson keeps Idaho's 2nd district in GOP hands
Toomey takes Pennsylvania's 15th District for GOP
Democrats to make historic gains in House
Republican Sherwood wins open seat in Pennsylvania's 10th House district
Hawaii rehires Abercrombie in House race
Swing Connecticut district chooses Democrat Maloney again
Republican Ryan beats Spottswood in Wisconsin's 1st district
Illinois Rep. Evans bests Baker in closely watched contest
Republican Baker fends off tough challenge in Louisiana House race
Iowa's Boswell fends off Republican n House race
Chabot holds off Democratic challenge
Strickland retains Ohio's 6th district
Bellwether Kentucky, Indiana House races split
Owens first GOP Colorado governor in more than two decades
Moderates inherit the governor's mansions
Former wrestler takes stunning win in Minnesota
Guinn edges Democrat rival to pick up Nevada
Knowles wins rare 2nd term in Alaska
GOP Geringer keeps Wyoming
Easy victory for Oregon Gov. Kitzhaber
Ryan picks up Illinois governorship
Democrat Davis wins heralded California governorship
Cellucci stays as Massachusetts governor
Conservative Johanns wins Nebraska governorship
Gov. Ridge wins big in Pennsylvania
Kempthorne wins landslide in Idaho
Democrat wins Iowa for first time in 30 years
Thompson wins record 4th term in Wisconsin
Taft wins close governor race in Ohio
Keating remains Oklahoma governor
GOP Gov. Janklow keeps South Dakota seat
New Mexico Gov. Johnson retains post
GOP Gov. Almond keeps Rhode Island seat
Gov. Engler easily wins re-election in Michigan
Barnes edges GOP rival for Georgia's top spot
Gov. Huckabee wins re-election in Arkansas
Arizona GOP Hull stays in office
Independent King keeps Maine seat
Kansas Gov. Graves easily wins re-election
Rowland wins re-election in Connecticut
Glendening retains office in Maryland
Siegelmen unseats incumbent James in Alabama
Sundquist stays as Tennessee governor
Texas Gov. George W. Bush wins in landslide
Hodges wins South Carolina governor race
Dean easily keeps Vermont governor seat
Jeb Bush wins big in Florida
Democrat Shaheen retains New Hampshire seat, gets third of GOP vote
Prop. 3 failure places California presidential primary in limbo
Medical marijuana popular at polls
Anti-affirmative action ballot measure
Washington state voters tie minimum wage to inflation
California OKs Indian gambling expansion
South Carolina removes ban on interracial marriage
Michigan voters soundly reject physician-assisted suicide
Plan to boost Calif. cigarette tax too close to call