2010 Midterm Elections
Republicans gained the most House seats since the 1938 Midterm Elections, giving Republicans their biggest House majority, and Democrats their smallest minority, since 1946. When blue dog Democrats are added to the Republicans on certain issues like gun control or marriage, the Republican majority is even greater than in 1946.
Democratic loses could be attributed to public rejection of the socialistic policies of the Obama administration. The public disapproved of President Obama's economic policies. In the days leading up to the election, a majority of voters supported repealing/replacing The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, sixty-five percent of voters said that the economic stimulus package either hurt the economy or did no good, and fifty-four percent of those voting said they were dissatisfied with the performance of Barack Obama. Given the high level of Democratic success in the 2006 and 2008 elections, they were also put in the position of having to defend a large number of seats.
John Boehner (R-Ohio), become Speaker of the House in the 112th Congress, exchanging places with Nancy Pelosi (D-California). By tradition Pelosi would be expected to resign her leadership position after such a stunning repudiation by the electorate, but as a self-centered liberal she insisted on becoming the next Minority Leader.
- 1 2009 elections
- 2 Ad campaigns
- 3 Pre-election Forecasts
- 4 House Races
- 5 Senate
- 6 Governors
- 7 Further reading
- 8 See also
In the Nov. 3, 2009, off-year elections, defeat was the fate of Democrats in New York City, New Jersey and Virginia. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, spent his way to a third term in New York City while Republican Bob McDonnell won in a landslide for governor of Virginia; in New Jersey Republican Christopher Christie ousted the incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine despite his millions and Obama's campaigning.
Conservatives scored a major internal party victory in Oct. 2009 by forcing the Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava out of a House race in New York's 23rd district, for being too liberal. The Conservative Party candidate was defeated by the Democrat, however, opening up recriminations between GOP officials and conservatives on why the district was lost for the first time since 1992. Conservative activists zeroed in on the 2010 race for Florida's open Senate seat, in which the Republican party Senate campaign committee endorsed moderate Gov. Charlie Crist but the more conservative Marco Rubio mounted a successful challenge. "If I were Charlie Crist in Florida, what's happening in New York 23 would make me extremely nervous," GOP strategist Todd Harris said. "A lot of the establishment Republicans underestimated the grass-roots anger across the country about spending and the expansion of the federal government. The anger is boiling over now, but a lot of the seeds of discontent were planted over the last five to six years."
In late 2009 national money was being poured into nine districts, where Democrats who voted for their party's health care reform may be in trouble. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, representing business, has spent at least $1.6 million in November. Liberals shoot back against the Chamber and 60 Plus Association with ads targeting 12 Democrats and one Republican who supported health reform. Three liberal groups, Americans United for Change and the labor unions AFSCME and SEIU are teaming up for $1.75 million worth of counter-messaging on broadcast and cable TV in the districts of Reps. Berry, Cao, Connolly, Donnelly, Ellsworth, Hill, Hodes, Michaud, Murphy, Perriello, Pomeroy, Snyder and Titus.
In mid-October the Democratic National Committee, echoing charges debunked by the New York Times, insinuated that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was using "foreign money" to fund ads criticizing Democrats. The president said in a Maryland stump speech, "we learned that one of the largest groups paying for these ads regularly takes in money from foreign corporations. So groups that receive foreign money are spending huge sums to influence American elections, and they won't tell you where the money for their ads comes from…. This is a threat to our democracy."
The president himself has received $543,219 from Swiss banking giant UBS AG, a foreign banking corporation which was later fined a record $780 million for its part in helping the rich evade U.S. income taxes. Columnist Ruben Navarrette warned the pitfalls of playing the "foreign card" is
|“||both offensive and dangerous. It exploits people's fears of the unknown and appeals to the prejudice that many of us feel toward those who are different. It also fuels ugly nativist instincts that -- once unleashed -- can do real damage....Democrats know this better than anyone ... The birther movement, which suggests that Obama was actually born in Kenya and thus not eligible to serve as a president, is all about playing the foreign card...||”|
|“||Obama's attempt to discredit his opponents by linking them to sinister outsiders reminds us that neither major party has a monopoly on xenophobia. To some extent, crying "foreigner" reflects the president's desperation in the face of the Democrats' looming midterm losses.||”|
Pre-election ForecastsIn recent years, as the chart shows, the incumbent party loses an average of 16 House seats. The GOP needed 39 seats to win back the House.
Democrats had to defend about 60 marginal House seats in 2010, as opposed to about 40 for Republicans. At high risk were 27 Democratic seats and just 13 Republican seats that may see a party switch.
Election forecasters in September 2009 were revising their predictions downward for the Democrats, as Obama's popularity continues to plunge. From April to August, Obama lost 10 points across the board—suffering losses in every group except blacks, who remain loyal to him. The popularity of Congress remains low. Starting in January 2010 the number of Americans who identify themselves as Democrats was at a seven-year low. The Republican party, however, suffers from a lack of leaders and its own poor reputation in voter esteem.
"No question, August proved cathartic for voters and chaotic for congressional Democrats. But way before the town hall meetings during recess, there were ample signs for Democrats to fear for their careers in 2010," concluded Cook Political Report House analyst David Wasserman, who predicts the Democrats will lose 20 seats in the House, but retain control. Wasserman concludes that a major shift has been underway among "angry white seniors" (over age 60), who strongly dislike the Obama health care proposals because they fear they will lose benefits they now have.
Analyst Stuart Rothenberg reported that, "Growing public concern about spending, taxes and the size of government has started to shift the national landscape away from the Democrats to a more neutral position, and quite possibly toward the GOP." Furthermore, an advantage for Republicans was that 48 House Democrats, 8 more than the size of their majority, come from districts that voted for both George W. Bush and John McCain.
Columnist Rich Galen observed,
|“||He railroaded his signature legislation - Obamacare - through the Congress costing his party 60+ seats in the 2010 mid-term election and guaranteeing GOP control of the House for the foreseeable future. Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will go down in history as enablers of the sacrifice of Obama's Congressional allies on the alter of his enormous ego.||”|
Republicans won twelve House seats from retiring Democrats and defeated 52 Democratic incumbents. Democrats won one Republican-held open seat and defeated two Republican incumbents.
Texas Senator John Cornyn, the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, quietly put Senate Republicans in a position to benefit as the national political environment went negative toward Democrats, and was successful in narrowing the Democratic majority. Without losing any of their seats, the Republican Party defeated two incumbents, Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas) and Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), and won four Democratic-held open seats: Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. Additionally, Republican Scott Brown was elected to replace the late Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) in a January special election.
Moderate Democrat Blanche Lincoln was defeated by 21 percentage points after Republicans made her one of their top targets in 2010. In the 2008 Presidential Election, Arkansas was one of the few states where John McCain exceeded George W. Bush’s margin, despite the national trend favoring Democrats. Generally, she voted the party line with President Obama, which angered her conservative constituents, but also voted against the Employee Free Choice Act (card check) and opposed to the public option in health care, which angered liberals. She began airing TV ads in March touting her independence from President Obama and national Democrats. Lincoln defeated Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter in a close runoff for the Democratic nomination.
Third district Congressman John Boozman easily won the Republican nomination, defeating State Senator Gilbert Baker and former State Senator Jim Holt. Boozman comfortably led thoughout the entire campaign.
Two-term Democrat Evan Bayh dropped out of his reelection in February after polls showed he may be vulnerable after his vote for the economic stimulus package and government-run health care. Former Republican U.S. Senator Dan Coats, who predeced Bayh after retiring in 1998, announced his candidacy for his old Senate seat. Former six-term Congressman John Hostettler, State Senator Marlin Stutzman and businessman Don Bates Jr. were defeated for the Republican nomination. Conservative Congressman Mike Pence considered running, but instead chose to seek reelection in the House.
8th district Congressman Brad Ellsworth was the Democratic nominee. Dan Coats defeated Ellsworth by a 55%-40% margin. Ellsworth supported President Obama’s health care plan in a state where opposition to the legislation is higher than it was nationally.
Democratic Senator Roland Burris had been plagued by controversies. Burris was appointed to replace Barack Obama by Governor Rod Blagojevich, who had been arrested on a variety of federal corruption charges (including for trying to "sell" Obama's Senate seat). Burris was then accused of committing perjury after he admitted to not testifying truthfully at a committee investigating Governor Blagojevich. Burris announced he would not seek a full term in 2010.
Moderate-GOP Congressman Mark Kirk, representing a Democratic-leaning district that covers suburban Chicago, easily won the Republican nomination, while Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias defeated Chicago Inspector General David Hoffman in a close primary. Both candidates faced negative media publicity, Giannoulias for the collapse of his family bank, and Kirk for exaggerating his military record. In the general election, Kirk defeated Giannoulias by a 48%-46% margin.
Liberal icon Ted Kennedy, the third longest-serving Senator in U.S. history, died in August 2009, marking the end of an era. During the 2004 Presidential Election the Democratic super-majority in the state legislator blocked the right of Republican Governor Mitt Romney to appoint an interim senator had John Kerry been elected President. After changing the law to allow Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, the right to appoint a temporary replacement for Kennedy, he choose former Democratic National Committee chairman Paul Kirk. He did not seek a full term of his own, and a special election was held on January 19, 2010.
State Attorney General Martha Coakley won the Democratic primary, defeating businessman Alan Khazei, Representative Mike Capuano, and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca. Charismatic State Senator Scott Brown was the Republican nominee.
It was a safe Democratic seat until January, when Democrats reeled in shock as Coakley lost her 30-point lead and trailed by 5-10 points in the closing hours. Coakley was an ineffective machine-style insider candidate who was unable to reach independents. Brown's main theme was that he would be the 41st senator and would block the Obama health care plan—which Massachusetts did not need, he explained, because it had its own plan in operation. Coakley responded by attacking bankers and bringing in big guns like Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Barack Obama. They appealed to regular Democrats and alienated the equally numerous independents, who preferred Brown by more than 2-1.
The defeat for Coakley, coming on the heels of the Democrats' loss of Virginia and New Jersey in Nov. 2009, was a major blow to the liberal caused and reinvigorated the Republican party nationally.
- North Dakota
Byron Dorgan, a three-term Democrat Senator from North Dakota, announced he would not seek reelection. Dorgan's announcement represented an opportunity for Republicans, after popular Governor John Hoeven announced his candidacy. Hoeven defeated State Senator Tracy Potter by a 76%-22% margin, carrying every county.
After polls showed him losing the Republican primary by as much as 20 points, Arlen Specter simply changed party affiliation to Democrat. Despite full support by President Obama and virtually every elected Democrat in Pennsylvania as well as nearly every major newspaper, Specter went on to lose the Democratic nomination to 7th-district Congressman Joe Sestak in the primary, and faced former 15th district Congressman and Club for Growth President Pat Toomey, known for his economic conservatism. In the general election, Toomey defeated Sestak by a 51%-49% margin.
Three-term incumbent Russ Feingold had positioned himself for a comfortable reelection after former governor and Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson announced he would not run. However, Tea Party activist and Oshkosh businessman Ron Johnson defeated Feingold by a 52%-47% margin.
Although California is a solidly Democratic state, conservatives originally saw outspoken liberal Senator Barbara Boxer as vulnerable. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was term-limited in 2010, announced he would not run. Former Hewlett-Packard Company President Carly Fiorina defeated former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore in the Republican primary. Boxer defeated Fiorina by ten percentage points.
Appointed Democratic Senator Michael Bennet was narrowly reelected. Former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Andrew Romanoff was defeated in his bid to challenge Bennet for the Democratic nomination, while Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck defeated former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton in the Republican primary.
30-year Senate veteran Chris Dodd announced he would not seek a sixth term. Dodd's approval ratings plummeted after his failed presidential campaign in 2008, his controversial mortgage deal from Countrywide, and revelations about the $165 million bonuses for AIG executives that he attached in an amendment to the economic stimulus package, despite receiving federal bailout money. Popular state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal won the Democratic nomination, increasing the Democrats' chances of holding the seat. However, his poll numbers dropped after a New York Times report revealed that he exaggerated his military record.
Republicans nominated World Wrestling Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon, defeating former Congressman Rob Simmons and libertarian-leaning economist Peter Schiff, a stock broker and adviser to Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign. Blumenthal won the general election by a 55%-43% margin.
Joe Biden was simultaneously elected to a seventh term in the Senate and Vice President at the same time. Democratic Governor Ruth Ann Minner appointed a "caretaker" Senator, Ted Kaufman. Michael Castle, a moderate Republican who also served as Governor and Lieutenant Governor, was heavily favored to win the Republican nomination. However, Tea Party backed insurgent Christine O’Donnell ousted Castle in the primary, improving New Castle County Executive Chris Coons chances in holding the seat for Democrats. The Republican Party had a mixed reaction to O’Donnell's victory. She had caused controversy regarding her views on creationism and Christian values. Coons defeated O’Donnell by a 57%-40% margin.
Democrat Daniel Inouye easily won reelection against Republican Representative Campbell Cavasso.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid faced a competitive reelection in 2010. The "Cook Political Report" in September 2009 rateed the contest as "Toss Up." His status weakened in summer 2009, as discontent with President Obama and the Democrats' health plan mounted, and as the Recession of 2008 continues to batter Las Vegas and the entire Nevada economy, with no relief in sight from the stimulus bill Reid pushed through the Senate. Reid's inability to improve his standing in the polls, coupled with the deteriorating political environment for Democrats nationally, were clear indications that his political problems are deep and will be difficult (though not impossible) to fix, says Cook.
After receiving the endorsement of the Tea Party Express and Club for Growth, former Assemblywoman Sharron Angle defeated former State Senator Sue Lowden and businessman Danny Tarkanian in the Republican primary. Reid defeated Angle by a 50%-45% margin.
- New York
Senior Senator Charles Schumer was considered the safest incumbent of 2010 and won his reelection by a 66%-33% margin against Republican Jay Townsend.
- New York-Special Election
Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed by Governor David Patterson to replace Hillary Clinton after much confusion on his part. Patterson mishandled the proposed appointment of Caroline Kennedy, gaining ridicule for both of them. Gillibrand's moderate views alienated the left wing of the Democratic Party. Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. has announced he will not seek a primary challenge to Gillibrand.
Nine-term Congressman Peter King has declined to run. Republicans are tried but failed to recruit former Governor George Pataki, who ran ahead in the polls with Gillibrand. Real estate billionaire Mort Zuckerman, despite having a record of supporting liberal causes, was mentioned as a possible Republican or Independent candidate to avoid a primary, however announced that he would not run. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani declined to seek the Senate seat. Instead, Republicans nominated former Congressman Joseph DioGuardi, whom Gillibrand defeated by a 62%-36% margin.
Democratic Senator Ron Wyden defeated his Republican challenger, Lewis & Clark College law professor Jim Huffman by a 57%-39% margin.
Patrick Leahy, the third most senior U.S. Senator, was reelected by a 64%-40% margin against Republican Len Britton.
Polls show that Senator Patty Murray, once considered well positioned for reelection, would face a competitive race against Washington's former state Senator, Dino Rossi. In November, Murray defeated Rossi by a 52%-48% margin.
- West Virginia
Popular Democratic Governor Joe Manchin was elected to replace the late Exalted Cyclops Senator Robert Byrd. Businessman and 2006 nominee John Raese made the race surprisingly close by tying Manchin to the Obama administration.
Senior Senator Richard Shelby, who was originally elected as a conservative Democrat but changed party affiliation to Republican after the 1994 Republican Revolution, was handedly reelected, as he was in 1992, 1998, and 2004.
Lisa Murkowski won a term for the U.S. Senate in her own right in 2004 by a close 48%-45% margin, however, in 2010 she lost the Primary Election against Joe Miller, a Conservative candidate and Tea Party favorite. Democrats nominated Sitka, Alaska Mayor Scott McAdams. Murkowski pursued her campaign as a write-in candidate, and was reelected with a 39% plurality, while Miller received 35% and McAdams 23%. She has the distinction of being the first person elected to the Senate via write-in since Strom Thurmond in 1954.
Senior Senator John McCain, the Republicans presidential nominee in 2008, caught a break when Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano was appointed Secretary of Homeland Security. However, former Congressman J. D. Hayworth challenged McCain in a primary, but was defeated by a 56%-32% margin. McCain went on to defeat Tucson City Councilor Rodney Glassman by a 59%-35% margin.
Republican Governor Charlie Crist, who once enjoyed high approval ratings, appointed George LeMieux upon the resignation of Senator Mel Martinez. LeMieux held the seat temporarily for Governor Crist who decided to run for the Senate. He was the establishment pick for the Republican nomination, but was challenged by conservative Florida House Speaker and Tea Party backed candidate Marco Rubio, who led by 32 points according to Public Policy Polling. Crist announced he would drop out of the Republican primary and run as an Independent.
Crist alienated conservatives when he campaigned with President Obama in support for the $787 billion economic stimulus package, which was entirely opposed by the Florida Republican federal delegation. Democrats nominated 17th district Congressman Kendrick Meek, who defeated billionaire businessman Jeff Greene. Rubio was elected with a 49% plurality, defeating Crist who received 30% and Meek who received 20%.
First-term Senator Johnny Isakson's had solid standing for his reelection. His most formidable Democratic opponent, state Attorney General Thurbert Baker, instead sought a campaign for Governor. Isakson defeated Labor Commissioner Mike Thurmond by a 58%-39% margin.
Mike Crapo's conservative voting record goes along with the Republican stronghold of Idaho. In 2004, he faced no Democratic challenger and won reelection with over 99% of the vote. Crapo's seat was one of the safest in the 2010 election cycle, and he won reelection by a 71%-25% margin.
30-year incumbent Charles Grassley is one of the most distinguished and influential Republican Senators in Washington (he serves as ranking member of the Finance Committee). He was reelected by a 65%-33% margin against former U.S. Attorney Roxanne Conlin, carrying all but one county.
Incumbent Republican Sam Brownback honored his campaign pledge to serve only two terms. 1st district Congressman Jerry Moran defeated 4th district Congressman Todd Tiahrt for the Republican nomination by a 50%-45% margin, while Democrats nominated Lisa Johnston, an administrator at Baker University. Moran defeated Johnston by a 70%-26% margin.
Republicans had a victory when unpopular incumbent Senator Jim Bunning announced he would not seek a third term. Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson sought the Republican nomination, however was defeated by Tea Party activist Rand Paul, an eye surgeon who is the son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Paul received the endorsment of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. On the Democratic side, Lieutenant Governor Daniel Mongiardo (who lost to Bunning in 2004) was defeated by Attorney General Jack Conway. Paul campaigned on a reducation in taxion and spending, and won the support of conservatives and libertarians alike. Paul defeated Conway by a 56%-44% margin.
Louisiana, a conservative state, was not effected by the national trend for Democrats in 2006 and 2008. Republican Bobby Jindal was elected Governor by a landslide in 2007, in 2008 John McCain received a larger margin of victory in the state than George W. Bush in 2004, while the GOP gained two House seats from the Democrats. Yet first-term Republican David Vitter was considered to be vulnerable for his reelection after he confessed in 2007 to seeing an escort service, which has tainted his career. Third-district Congressman Charlie Melancon won the Democratic nomination. Vitter defeated Melancon by a 57%-38% margin.
Incumbent Republican Senator Kit Bond announced he will not seek fifth term. Former House Majority Whip Roy Blunt announced his candidacy. Blunt benefited from strong fundraising numbers and President Obama's dismal approval ratings in Missouri. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan won the Democratic nomination. BLunt defeated Carnahan by a 54%-41% margin.
- New Hampshire
Senior Republican Senator Judd Gregg, after withdrawing from a position in the Obama administration, announced he will not seek a fourth term. 2nd district Congressman Paul Hodes won the Democratic nomination, while Republicans nominated former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. Ayotte defeated Hodes by a 60%-37% margin.
- North Carolina
First-term Republican Richard Burr was considered vulnerable after Barack Obama won North Carolina's 15 electoral votes by a narrow margin, and Democrat Kay Hagan defeated Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole. It is also worth noting that no Senator has held this seat for more than one term since 1974. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall defeated former State Senator Cal Cunningham and Attorney Ken Lewis in the Democratic primary. Burr was reelected by a 55%-43% margin.
Moderate Republican George Voinovich announced he would not seek a third term. Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher won the Democratic nomination over Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner with 55% of the vote, a much closer margin than polls had shown. Fisher received the endorsement of Democratic Governor Ted Strickland. Meanwhile, Republicans rallied behind Rob Portman, former Congressman and Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Although polls originally showed a tight race, Portman defeated Fisher by a 57%-39% margin.
Tom Coburn was elected to a second term by a 71%-26% margin against Democrat Jim Rogers.
- South Carolina
First-term Republican Jim DeMint, whose reputation as an outspoken conservative, has not hurt him in the Republican stronghold of South Carolina. Democrats nominated an unconventional candidate, Alvin Greene, an unemployed Army veteran who was indicted on criminal charges for showing pornographic pictures to a teenage college student. DeMint defeated Greene by a 61%-28% margin.
- South Dakota
Three-term Senator Robert Bennett represents a state that John McCain won by over thirty-percentage points and was expected to win reelection by a comfortable margin. However, he was defeated in the Republican caucus to Mike Lee and Tim Bridgewater after his vote for TARP. Bennett ruled out a write-in campaign, and Lee went on to win the Republican primary and general election.
In the 2010 gubernatorial elections, the Democratic Party won five governorships held by retiring Republicans: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, and Vermont. The Republican Party won nine governorships from retiring Democrats: Kansas, Oklahoma, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and defeated two incumbents, Chet Culver of Iowa and Ted Strickland of Ohio. An Independent was elected Governor of Rhode Island to replace a retiring Republican, and a Republican was elected Governor of Florida to replace an Independent. Thus, Republicans had a net gain of six governorships, and the majority of Governors in the United States flipped from Democrat to Republican. Republicans also won the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia from the Democrats in the 2009 elections.
Incumbent Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger was prohibited from seeking reelection because of term-limits. Schwarzenegger was elected in 2003 after a recall of Governor Gray Davis and reelected in a landslide in 2006. However, Schwarzenegger's popularity, along with the Democratic assembly, fell because of the California budget crisis. State Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown won the Democratic nomination. On the Republican side, former Ebay CEO Meg Whitman defeated State Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was seeking the Democratic nomination, however dropped out in October 2009 after lackluster poll numbers and meager fund-raising receipts. In the general election, Brown defeated Whitman by a 53%-42% margin.
M. Jodi Rell, despite being a Republican Governor from a blue state, was reelected with 63% of the vote in 2006 and had high approval ratings throughout her tenure as governor. However, she announced she would not run for another term. Lieutenant Governor Michael Fedele announced his candidacy, but was defeated for the Republican nomination by former U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley. Democrats chose Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy over former U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont. After a recount, Malloy was confirmed to have won the governorship by a 50%-49% margin.
Republican Governor Linda Lingle was term-limited. James Aiona, who served as the state's Lieutenant Governor eight years, ran to become her successor, but was defeated by 10-term Congressman Neil Abercrombie by a 58%-41% margin.
Two-term Governor Tim Pawlenty announced he would not seek another term, and became a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate. Republican State Representative Tom Emmer and former Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Dayton won their parties nominations, respectively. After a recount, Dayton was confirmed to have won by a 0.5% margin.
Although a solidly Democratic state (Barack Obama won it with over 67% of the vote) Republican Jim Douglas was elected governor in 2002 and reelected in 2004, 2006, and 2008. Douglas announced he would not run for another term, and Republicans nominated Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie. Democratic State Senator Peter Shumlin defeated Dubie by a 50%-48% margin in the general election.
- Rhode Island
Although Democrats have dominated Rhode Island politics, they have voted Republican for 7 of the last 10 gubernatorial elections. As Rhode Island was hit hard by the national recession, Republican Governor Donald Carcieri suffered in the polls, and was barred from seeking a third term because of term-limits. Lincoln Chafee, former Senator who was known as the most liberal Republican in Congress, was elected Governor as an Independent, defeating Republican John Robitaille and Democrat Frank Caprio. After President Obama refused to endorse Caprio, he caused controversy by telling Obama to take his endorsement and "shove it." 
Republican turned Independent Governor Charlie Crist announced he would not seek a second term and instead run for the United States Senate, resulting in an open race. State Attorney General Bill McCollum was heavily favored to win the Republican nomination, but was defeated by Rick Scott, a millionaire health care executive and activist against federal health care legislation. Democrats nominated Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who led Scott in most of the polls following the primary. Scott's campaign emphasized conservative policies such as expanding school choice, abolishing the corporate income tax, and firing state employees. He won the general election by a narrow 49%-48% margin.
Chet Culver, who was elected governor in 2006 riding on a Democratic wave, was defeated in a competitive reelection. Culver governed as a progressive in a swing state, increasing the minimum wage and raising the cigarette tax. His job approval ratings fell as the economy continued to falter. Former Governor Terry Branstad defeated Culver by a 53%-43% margin.
Kathleen Sebelius, a Democratic Governor from the Republican-stronghold of Kansas, stepped down after being nominated to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration. Lieutenant Governor Mark Parkinson, a former Republican, took her place, and announced he would not seek a full term. Senator Sam Brownback was the Republican nominee, and defeated Democratic state Senator Tom Holland by a 63%-32% margin.
Democrat Governor John Baldacci was term-limited by state law, and Republicans saw it as an opportunity to gain the governorship. Republicans nominated Waterville, Maine Mayor Paul LePage, who defeated Independent candidate Eliot Cutler and Democratic state Senate President Libby Mitchell with a 38% plurarly.
Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm suffered in her job approval ratings as the Michigan economy, heavily dependent of the auto industry, continued to falter throughout the 2000s. She was legally barred from seeking a third-term under state law. The Republican nominee, former President and COO of Gateway, Inc. Rick Snyder, easily defeated Democrat Lansing Mayor Virgil Bernero by a 58%-40% margin in the general election.
- New Mexico
Democratic Governor Bill Richardson was nominated by President Obama to serve as Secretary of Commerce, however was forced to resign after it was exposed that his administration had a "pay-to-play" deal with a defense contractor. Richardson denied any wrongdoing. Although he was popular for most of his tenure, and handedly reelected in 2006, his approval ratings fell to 28% as the economy declined. As he was term-limited in 2010, Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish won the Democratic Party nomination. The Republican nomination went to District Attorney Susana Martinez, and narrowly led in the polls throughout the campaign. She defeated Denish by a 54%-46% margin, becoming the first Hispanic woman elected governor in the United States.
Incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland faced sagging approval ratings and tough reelection prospects as Ohio lost jobs and population during his governorship. His Republican opponent, John Kasich – a former Congressman and Chairman of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s – campaigned on phasing out the state income tax, leasing the state's toll roads, cutting 15-20 percent of the state's higher education funds, and relaxing sentences on nonviolent offenders to cut down prison costs. He defeated Strickland by a 49%-47% margin.
Democratic Governor Brad Henry could not run for reelection because of term limits. Republicans nominated U.S. Representative Marry Fallin, who defeated Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, becoming the first woman elected governor of Oklahoma.
Democratic Governor Ed Rendell was term limited in 2010. Democrats nominated Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato. Republicans nominated Attorney General Tom Corbett. 6th district Congressman Jim Gerlach was a Republican candidate, however dropped out in January and sought reelection instead. In the general election Corbett defeated Onorato by a 55%-45% margin.
Centrist Democrat Mike Beebe enjoyed high approval ratings throughout his tenure as Governor. He was reelected by a 65%-34% margin against former Republican State Senate Jim Keet, despite Republicans making strong inroads in the traditionally Democratic supporting Arkansas during the 2010 election.
Despite Democratic success in Colorado during the 2006 and 2008 elections, incumbent Governor Bill Ritter announced his retirement after the prospects of a difficult reelection. His policies of higher taxes and unionization of state employees earned him criticism from the business community, and his approval ratings fell to 45%. Former Congressman Scott McInnis was favored to win the Republican nomination, however fell in the polls after a controversy regarding plagiarizing an article, and was defeated by businessman and political newcomer Dan Maes, who also received criticism for misrepresenting his law enforcement background in the 1980s. Meanwhile, former Congressman Tom Tancredo entered the race in the American Constitution Party, and surged towards the end of the campaign. The turmoil made is easier for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper to hold the Governors office for the Democrats, and was elected 50% of the vote, to Tancredo's 37% and Maes 11%.
Democratic Governor Pat Quinn was installed as governor after the impeachment of Rod Blagojevich, and announced he would seek a full term. Quinn narrowly won the Democratic nomination against State Comptroller Dan Hynes. State Senator Bill Brady won the Republican nomination, defeating State Senator Kirk Dillard, and former State GOP chair Andrew McKenna. In the general election, Quinn pulled somewhat of an upset, winning reelection by a 47%-46% margin.
Democrat Martin O'Malley will likely run for a second term in 2010. O'Malley's approval ratings fell to 33% after a series of tax increases. The race was expected to be competitive with former Governor Robert Ehrlich seeking a rematch, however O'Malley was reelected by 14 percentage points.
Deval Patrick, although a Democratic Governor from a blue state, faced a difficult reelection after a disappointing performance as governor. The Republican nominee was health care executive Charlie Baker. Patrick was reelected with a 48% plurality, with Baker receiving 42% and Independent Paul Loscocco 8%.
- New York
After Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in disgrace when it was revealed that he was involved in a prostitution ring, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson took office. Governor Paterson's approval ratings plummeted to 21%  after his handling of the state budget crisis, his mismanagement of filling in the appointment of Hillary Clinton's vacant Senate seat, and a proposed number of tax increases. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani declined to seek the governorship and endorsed former Congressman Rick Lazio.
President Barack Obama in Sept. 2009 contacted Paterson, asking him not to seek reelection in 2010 in that he cannot recover from his dismal political standing. Democrats nominated a stronger candidate, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. Republicans nominated Tea Party favorite and real estate developer Carl Paladino. Polls originally showed a tightening race, however a series of missteps resulted in Cuomo being handedly elected with over 60-percent of the vote.
Incumbent Governor Ted Kulongoski could not seek a third term. Democrats nominated John Kitzhaber, who served as governor from 1995 until 2003. He defeated former NBA player Chris Dudley in the general election by a 49%-48% margin.
Republican Governor Bob Riley is term-limited after two terms, and both parties faced a competitive primary. State Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks trounced 7th district Congressman Artur Davis for the Democratic nomination, while State Representative and physician Robert Bentley defeated former State Senator Bradley Byrne in the Republican runoff. Bentley led in the polls by twenty points though out the campaign, and was elected by a 58%-42% margin. Republicans have won 6 out of the last 7 gubernatorial elections in Alabama, and John McCain won its 9 electoral votes by 60-percentage points.
Sarah Palin, one-term Governor and former Vice-Presidential nominee, resigned on July 3, 2009 and Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell inherited the governorship. Although Democrats nominated a formidable challenger, former State House Minority Leader Ethan Berkowitz, Parnell was elected to a full term by a 59%-38% margin.
After Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano was nominated by President Obama to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security, Arizona Secretary of State Janice K. Brewer, a Republican, succeeded her. She announced that she would seek a full term. In the beginning of 2010, Brewer was considered to be one of the most vulnerable Republican Governors up for reelection. However, her popularity rose after signing a controversial illegal immigration law, and was reelected against state Attorney General Terry Goddard by a 55%-42% margin.
In 2002, Sonny Perdue became the first Republican elected Governor of Georgia since reconstruction, and was reelected in 2006. However, he was term-limited in 2010. With an open race, former Governor Roy Barnes handedly defeated Attorney General Thurbert Baker in the Democratic primary, while Republicans narrowly nominated Congressman Nathan Deal over Secretary of State Karen Handel. Deal defeated Barnes by a 53%-43% margin+.
Guam Governor Felix P. Camacho, a Republican, was term limited in 2010. The Governors office stayed in Republican hands with the election of State Senator Eddie Calvo.
Butch Otter, governor of one of the most conservative states in the nation, was reelected by a 59%-33% margin.
Republican Governor Dave Heineman, who was easily reelected with 73% of the vote in 2006, was easily won another term with 74% of the vote.
Republican Governor Jim Gibbons was defeated in the primary by former State Attorney General Brian Sandovalby. Gibbons was vulnerable for his reelection after a series of scandals in his administration, a messy divorce and lawsuit, his failure to examine the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, and his handling of the budget, brought his approval ratings down. Clark County Commissioner Rory Reid — son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - won the Democratic nomination. In the general election, Sandovalby defeated Reid by a 53%-42% margin.
- South Carolina
Republican Governor Mark Sanford's possible presidential ambitions for 2012 ended after it was exposed he was having an extramarital affair with a woman from Argentine. Sanford would not resign, however was barred from seeking a third term because of term limits. Both parties prepared for an open race. State Representative Nikki Haley defeated Congressman Gresham Barrett in the Republican primary. State Senator Vincent Sheheen won the Democratic nomination. Haley defeated Sheheen bu a 51%-47% margin, becoming the first woman elected Governor of South Carolina, and the second Indian-American elected Governor, next to Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
- South Dakota
Two-term Republican Governor Mike Rounds could not run for a third-term because of term limits. Republicans nominated Lieutenant Governor Dennis Daugaard and Democrats nominated state Senate Minority Leader Scott Heidepriem. Daugaard defeated Heidepriem by a 62%-38% margin.
Former Lieutenant Governor under George W. Bush and now Governor, Rick Perry was elected for an unprecedented third consecutive term. Perry alienated some citizens with his support of the Trans-Texas Corridor and social conservatives with an executive order mandating vaccine for school girls. Still, he defeated Senior Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison for the Republican nomination, after attacking her as a Washington insider and big spender. The Democratic nominee was former Houston Mayor Bill White.
Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert, Republican, inherited the governorship after Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. resigned to serve as U.S Ambassador to China. In a state that has not elected a Democrat Governor since 1980, Herbert was elected to a full term.
- Michael Barone, The Almanac of American Politics: 2010 (2009) 1726pp; in-depth covereage of every seat in Congress.
- Karl Vick and Philip Rucker, "In a war within GOP, the right wins a battle," Washington Post Nov. 1, 2009
- Logical Farce: Obama's wild attacks on "foreign money" reek of desperation, Jacob Sullum, Reason.com, October 13, 2010.
- For details see Pew Report, Sept. 2009
- See Politico, "Cook Political Report: ‘A dangerous slide’ for Democrats" Sept 3, 2009 online
- Stuart Rothenberg, "All Signs Point to Another Top-Notch Election Cycle in 2010," Roll Call Sept. 8, 2009
- Many high-profile Republicans declined to fight the odds, including former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, former Governor Mitt Romney, former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, a conservative. See news
- Poll Shows Rubio Ahead by 32 Points in Florida, RollCall.com, March 9, 2010