1978 United States elections

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1978 United States elections
Midterm elections
Election dayNovember 7
Incumbent presidentJimmy Carter (Democratic)
Next Congress96th
Senate elections
Overall controlDemocratic Hold
Seats contested35 of 100 seats
(33 seats of Class 2 + 2 special elections)
Net seat changeRepublican +3[1]
1978 Senate election map.svg
1978 Senate election results

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

House elections
Overall controlDemocratic Hold
Seats contestedAll 435 voting seats
Popular vote marginDemocratic +8.9%
Net seat changeRepublican +15
1978 House Elections.png
1978 House of Representatives election results

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

Gubernatorial elections
Seats contested38 (36 states, 2 territories)
Net seat changeRepublican +6
1978 Gubernatorial election map.svg
1978 gubernatorial election results
Territorial races not shown

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

The 1978 United States elections were held on November 7, 1978, and elected the members of the 96th United States Congress. The election occurred in the middle of Democratic President Jimmy Carter's term. The Democrats lost fifteen seats to the Republican Party in the House of Representatives.[2] The Democrats also lost three seats in the U.S. Senate to the Republicans.[2] In the gubernatorial elections, Republicans picked up six seats. Among the newly elected governors was future president Bill Clinton from Arkansas.

Though Republicans won a relatively modest midterm victory, the election set the stage for the Reagan Revolution. Many of the newly elected members of Congress were more conservative than their predecessors, and most supported tax cuts that would eventually be implemented in the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981. The election also ended the possibility of a ratification of the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union. Carter's move to the center after this election encouraged a 1980 Democratic primary challenge by Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy.[3] Future Texas governor and president George W. Bush ran for a House seat as the Republican nominee in his state's 19th congressional district, but lost.

The 1978 cycle marked the last midterm election in which a sitting Democratic president saw his party retain control of both houses of Congress. Consequently, 1977-1981 was the last period in which Democrats had control of both the White House and Congress for more than two years at once.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Republicans picked up two seats in the regularly-scheduled elections and picked up another seat in a special election.
  2. ^ a b "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 1978" (PDF). U.S. House of Reps, Office of the Clerk. Retrieved 26 December 2011.
  3. ^ Busch, Andrew (1999). Horses in Midstream. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 106–110.