1996 United States Senate election in Kentucky

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United States Senate election in Kentucky, 1996

← 1990 November 5, 1996 2002 →
  Mitch-McConnell-110th.jpg KY Governor Steve Beshear.jpg
Nominee Mitch McConnell Steve Beshear
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 724,794 560,012
Percentage 55.5% 42.9%

KY-USA 1996 Senate Results by County 2-color.svg
Country Results

McConnell:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%

Beshear:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%

U.S. Senator before election

Mitch McConnell

Elected U.S. Senator

Mitch McConnell

The 1996 United States Senate election in Kentucky was held on November 5, 1996. Incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell won re-election to a third term with a 12.6% margin of victory. McConnell's landslide victory occurred at the same time President Bill Clinton was re-elected to a second term, winning by an 8.5% margin nationwide, but carrying Kentucky by a 0.9% margin.

Democratic primary[edit]



Democratic primary results[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Steve Beshear 177,859 66.38%
Democratic Tom Barlow 64,235 23.97%
Democratic Shelby Lanier 25,856 9.65%
Total votes 267,950 100.00%

Republican primary[edit]



Republican primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Mitch McConnell (Incumbent) 88,620 88.59%
Republican Tommy Klein 11,410 11.41%
Total votes 72,373 100.00%

General election[edit]



In 1996, Beshear started out trailing against McConnell, with an early general election poll placing McConnell ahead of Beshear 50% to 32%.[3] The campaign ultimately became quite harsh, with the McConnell campaign sending "Hunt Man," a take off of Chicken George dressed in "the red velvet coat, jodhpurs, black riding boots and black helmet of a patrician fox hunter." This was done as a means of criticizing Beshear's membership in a fox hunting club in Lexington, and undercut the Beshear campaign's message that McConnell was a Republican in the mold of Newt Gingrich and that Beshear was the only friend of the working class in the race.[4] Beshear did not make much traction with the electorate during the campaign. By October 1996, Beshear had narrowed the gap between himself and McConnell slightly, with McConnell leading Beshear 50% to 38%.[5]


General election results[6]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican Mitch McConnell (Incumbent) 724,794 55.45% +3.27%
Democratic Steve Beshear 560,012 42.85% -4.97%
Libertarian Dennis L. Lacy 8,595 0.66%
Natural Law Patricia Jo Metten 8,344 0.64%
U.S. Taxpayers Mac Elroy 5,284 0.40%
Write-ins 17 0.00%
Majority 164,782 12.61% +8.23%
Turnout 1,307,046
Republican hold Swing

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-04-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-04-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Janofsky, Michael (June 25, 1996). "Political Briefing;The Campaigns for Congress". New York Times.
  4. ^ Wines, Michael (August 11, 1996). "The Campaigns For Congress". New York Times.
  5. ^ "McConnell Holds 12-Point Lead Over Beshear in Poll". Lexington Herald-Leader. October 6, 1996.
  6. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/1996/96Stat.htm#12