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United States Senate elections, 1980: Map

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The 1980 U.S. Senate elections coincided with Ronald Reagan's election to the Presidency. Reagan's large margin of victory over incumbent Jimmy Carter pulled in many Democratic voters and gave a huge boost to Republican senate candidates.

The Republicans gained a net of twelve seats from the Democrats, the largest swing since 1958, and gained control of the Senate, 53-46. Majority and minority leaders Robert Byrd and Howard Baker exchanged places. This marked the first time since 1954 that the Republican Party controlled one of the Houses of Congress.

Without losing any seats, the Republicans took open seats in Alabama, Alaska, and Florida, and defeated nine incumbents: Herman Talmadge (D-GA), Frank Church (D-ID), Birch E. Bayh II (D-IN), John Culver (D-IA), John A. Durkin (D-NH), Robert Morgan (D-NC), 1972 presidential nominee George S. McGovern (D-SD), Warren Magnuson (D-WA), and Gaylord Nelson (D-WI) (see Reagan's coattails).

Notable new senators included future Vice-President J. Danforth Quayle (R-IN). Alfonse M. D'Amato (R-NY) defeated incumbent liberal Republican icon Jacob Javits in a primary, demonstrating the ascendancy of conservative Republicans.

In 1982, Harrison A. Williams (D-NJ) resigned from the Senate rather than face a vote on his expulsion over the Abscam scandal. He was replaced by Republican Nicholas F. Brady. This is not reflected in the party totals.

Senate contests in 1980

A bolded state name indicates an article about that state's election.

State Incumbent Party Status Opposing candidate(s)
Alabamamarker Donald W. Stewart Democratic Defeated in primary, Republican victory Jeremiah Denton (Republican) 50.2%
Jim Folsom, Jr. (Democratic) 47.1%
Alaska Mike Gravel Democratic Defeated in primary, Republican victory Frank Murkowski (Republican) 53.7%
Clark Gruening (Democratic) 45.9%
Arizonamarker Barry Goldwater Republican Re-elected, 49.5% Bill Schulz (Democratic) 48.4%
Fred R.

Easer (Libertarian) 1.4%
Lorenzo Torrez (People Over Politics) 0.4%
Josefina Otero (Socialist Workers) 0.4%


Arkansasmarker Dale Bumpers Democratic Re-elected, 59.1% Bill Clark (Republican) 40.9%
Californiamarker Alan Cranston Democratic Re-elected, 56.5% Paul Gann (Republican) 37.1%
David Bergland (Libertarian) 2.4%
David Wald (Peace & Freedom) 2.4%
Jim Griffin (American Ind.) 1.6%


Coloradomarker Gary Hart Democratic Re-elected, 50.3% Mary E. Buchanan (Republican) 48.7%
Earl Higgerson (Statesman) 0.6%
Henry John Olshaw (Unaffiliated-American) 0.4%

Connecticutmarker Abraham A. Ribicoff Democratic Retired, Democratic victory Chris Dodd (Democratic) 56.3%
James L.

Buckley (Republican) 42.9%
Floridamarker Richard Stone Democratic Defeated in primary, Republican victory Paula Hawkins (Republican) 51.7%
Bill Gunter (Democratic) 48.3%
Georgiamarker Herman Talmadge Democratic Defeated, 49.1% Mack Mattingly (Republican) 50.9%
Hawaiimarker Daniel Inouye Democratic Re-elected, 77.9% Cooper Brown (Republican) 18.4%
Idahomarker Frank Church Democratic Defeated, 48.8% Steve Symms (Republican) 49.7%
Illinoismarker Adlai Stevenson III Democratic Retired, Democratic victory Alan J. Dixon (Democratic) 56.0%
Dave O'Neal (Republican) 42.5%
Indianamarker Birch Bayh Democratic Defeated, 46.2% Dan Quayle (Republican) 53.8%
Iowamarker John Culver Democratic Defeated, 45.5% Chuck Grassley (Republican) 53.5%
Kansasmarker Bob Dole Republican Re-elected, 63.8% John Simpson (Democratic) 36.2%
Kentuckymarker Wendell H. Ford Democratic Re-elected, 65.1% Mary L. Foust (Republican) 34.9%
Louisianamarker Russell B. Long Democratic Re-elected in primary
Marylandmarker Charles Mathias, Jr. Republican Re-elected, 66.2% Edward T. Conroy (Democratic) 33.8%
Missourimarker Thomas Eagleton Democratic Re-elected, 52.0% Gene McNary (Republican) 47.7%
Martha Pettit (Socialist Workers) 0.3%
Nevadamarker Paul Laxalt Republican Re-elected, 58.5% Mary Gojack (Democratic) 37.4%
New Hampshiremarker John A. Durkin Democratic Defeated, 47.8% Warren Rudman (Republican) 52.1%
New Yorkmarker Jacob K. Javits Republican Defeated in primary, Republican victory Al D'Amato (Republican) 44.9%
Elizabeth Holtzman (Democratic) 43.5%
Jacob K.



Javits (Liberal) 11.0%

North Carolinamarker Robert Burren Morgan Democratic Defeated, 49.4% John Porter East (Republican) 50.0%
North Dakota Milton Young Republican Retired, Republican victory Mark Andrews (Republican) 70.3%
Kent Johanneson (Democratic) 29.0%
Ohiomarker John Glenn Democratic Re-elected, 68.8% James E. Betts (Republican) 28.2%
Oklahomamarker Henry Bellmon Republican Retired, Republican victory Don Nickles (Republican) 53.5%
Andrew Coats (Democratic) 43.5%
Oregonmarker Bob Packwood Republican Re-elected, 52.1% Ted Kulongoski (Democratic) 44.0%
Pennsylvaniamarker Richard Schweiker Republican Retired, Republican victory Arlen Specter (Republican) 50.5%
Pete Flaherty (Democratic) 48.0%
South Carolina Ernest Hollings Democratic Re-elected, 70.4% Marshall T. Mays (Republican) 29.6%
South Dakotamarker George McGovern Democratic Defeated, 39.4% James Abdnor (Republican) 58.2%
Wayne Peterson (Independent) 2.4%
Utahmarker Jake Garn Republican Re-elected, 73.6% Dan Berman (Democratic) 25.5%
Vermontmarker Patrick Leahy Democratic Re-elected, 49.8% Stewart M. Ledbetter (Republican) 48.5%
Washingtonmarker Warren G. Magnuson Democratic Defeated, 45.8% Slade Gorton (Republican) 54.2%
Wisconsinmarker Gaylord Nelson Democratic Defeated, 48.3% Bob Kasten (Republican) 50.2%


Senate composition before and after elections

96th Congress Senate Composition   97th Congress Senate Composition
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
                                                                                                     
Color Key:   = Republican   = Democratic   = Independent


See also




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