1986 Midterm Elections

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In the midterm elections of 1986, the Democratic Party gained five seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and more significantly took back control of the U.S. Senate by gaining eight seats. Despite Democratic congressional victories, Republicans gained eight governorships, including Florida and Texas.

In the House, voters generally accepted the status quo, with just five Republicans and one Democrat defeated for reelection. A probable reason for Democratic gains in the Senate was that the Republican Senators who were elected in 1980, riding on Reagan's coattails, were up for reelection for the first time. In fact, six out of the seven Republican incumbents defeated were first-term Senators.

The south seemed to be trending Republican following President Reagan's landslide reelection in 1984, however Democrats made strong gains, winning every southern Senate seat that was up for election that year. Future Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert was election to Congress in Illinois. Future Republican presidential nominee John McCain was elected to the Senate in Arizona to replace the retiring Barry Goldwater, future Senate Majority Leaders Tom Daschle was elected to replace George McGovern in South Dakota and Harry Reid was elected in Nevada.