1978 United States Senate election in Illinois

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1978 United States Senate election in Illinois

← 1972 November 7, 1978 1984 →
  Charles Percy.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Charles Percy Alex Seith
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,698,711 1,448,187
Percentage 53.34% 45.47%

Illinois Senate Election Results by County, 1978.svg
County Results
Percy:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%
Seith:      50–60%      60–70%

U.S. Senator before election

Charles H. Percy

Elected U.S. Senator

Charles H. Percy

The 1978 United States Senate election in Illinois took place on November 7, 1978. Incumbent Republican United States Senator Charles H. Percy ran for re-election to a third term in the United States Senate. Percy was opposed by Democratic nominee Alex Seith, an attorney who had been appointed to several local government positions. Though Percy had been expected to coast to re-election over Seith, a first-time candidate, the election quickly became competitive. In the last few days of the campaign, a desperate Percy ran a television advertisement that featured him apologizing and acknowledging that, "I got your message and you're right."[1] Percy's last-ditch effort appeared to have paid off, as he was able to edge out Seith to win what would end up being his third and final term in the Senate. As of 2019, this is the last time the Republicans won the Class 2 Senate seat in Illinois.

According to an NBC News exit poll, Percy won 50% of black voters, 54% of voters 35 years old or young, and 58% of Jewish voters.[2]

General election[edit]



United States Senate election in Illinois, 1978[3]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Charles H. Percy (Incumbent) 1,698,711 53.34% -8.88%
Democratic Alex Seith 1,448,187 45.47% +8.13%
Libertarian Bruce Lee Green 16,320 0.51%
Socialist Workers Patricia Grogan 15,922 0.50%
Socialist Labor Gerald Rose 5,465 0.18%
Write-ins 159 0.00%
Majority 250,524 7.87% -17.00%
Turnout 3,184,764
Republican hold Swing

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Message of the 1978 Off-Year Elections". Time.com. November 20, 1978. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  2. ^ "NBC News – Live Election Night Coverage, November 7, 1978". YouTube. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  3. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 1978" (PDF). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved July 2, 2014.