1986 United States elections

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1986 United States elections
Midterm elections
Election dayNovember 4
Incumbent presidentRonald Reagan (Republican)
Next Congress100th
Senate elections
Overall controlDemocratic Gain
Seats contested35 of 100 seats
(34 Class 3 seats + 1 special election)
Net seat changeDemocratic +9[1]
1986 Senate election map.svg
1986 Senate election results

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

House elections
Overall controlDemocratic Hold
Seats contestedAll 435 voting seats
Popular vote marginDemocratic +9.9%
Net seat changeDemocratic +5
1986 House Election in the United States.png
1986 House of Representatives election results

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

Gubernatorial elections
Seats contested38 (36 states, 2 territories)
Net seat changeRepublican +8
1986 Gubernatorial election map.svg
1986 gubernatorial election results
Territorial races not shown

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

The 1986 United States elections were held on November 4, and elected the members of the 100th United States Congress. The elections occurred in the middle of Republican President Ronald Reagan's second term.

In an instance of the six-year itch phenomenon, the Democrats won a net gain of eight seats to recapture control of the United States Senate, taking back the chamber for the first time since the 1980 elections. Democrats won the national popular vote for the House of Representatives by a margin of 7.7 percentage points, making a net gain of five seats.[2] Despite Democratic congressional gains, in the gubernatorial elections, the Republican Party picked up a net of eight governorships.

The national campaign centered largely around the Senate, where Republicans defended a large freshmen class of Senators. Despite sweeping Democratic gains, many of the losing Republicans incumbents lost by small margins. The Republican loss of the Senate put an effective check on any further major conservative legislation during the Reagan administration. The elections also had a major impact on the Supreme Court, as Republican losses helped ensure that Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court would be defeated by the Senate. After the Senate rejected the conservative Bork, Reagan instead nominated Anthony Kennedy, who became a critical swing vote on the court.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Democrats picked up eight seats in the regularly-scheduled elections and picked up another seat in a special election.
  2. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 1986" (PDF). U.S. House of Reps, Office of the Clerk. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  3. ^ Busch, Andrew (1999). Horses in Midstream. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 126–135.