2014 U.S. midterm elections
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The 2014 midterm elections were a series of local, state, and federal elections held in the United States on 4 November 2014. These included elections for all 435 members of the US House of Representatives, 36 US Senators, 39 state and territorial governorships, and the majority of state legislative seats.
The 2014 midterms have been widely described as a “red wave” on account of the major losses of the Democratic Party. Notably, Republicans won 13 more seats, giving them their largest majority since the 1920s. Republicans also had success in the Senate, where Democrats were defending the majority of the seats up for election. Republicans gained their majority by flipping 9 Democratic-held seats.
Like always with midterm elections, most people saw the 2014 midterms as something of a referendum on the presidency of Barack Obama who at the time was in his second term. As was seen with the 2010 midterms elections, the GOP made gains, flipping 13 house seats to gain their largest majority since the Great Depression began. They also gained a Senate majority for the first time since before the 2006 midterms.
This election was notable in many ways. Republicans had their largest House majority since 1929, they gained the most Senate seats since 1980, Democrats had control of fewest state legislatures since 1860, and it also had the lowest voter turnout since 1942, with just 36% of eligible Americans voting.
US House results
Republicans flipped 16 Democrat-held seats in the US House of Representatives, while Democrats only won three Republican-held seats. This put them into a 247-188 majority, their biggest since after the 1928 elections. Examples of notable flips include:
- Illinois - Both the 10th and 12th districts flipped to the GOP. The 10th is very Democrat and in the Chicago area, and like the governorship, flipped in a fluke, reverted in the next election cycle. The 12th is based in south Illinois and is Republican to this day.
- New England - Republicans picked up New Hampshire's 1st and Maine's 2nd districts, both reverted in 2016 and 2018. However, this set groundwork to allow the district to become more Republican in the future Maine's 2nd district would vote for Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020. This would be the only New England district to vote red, as the rest of New England is pretty solid blue.
- New York - The 1st, 21st, and 24th district flipped, the 1st being the eastern edge, the 21st representing the northern front of the state, and the 24th being the Syracuse area. The representative of the 1st district, Lee Zeldin, retired in 2022 to run for governor of New York. The 24th leans Democrat, but the representative, John Katko, is still in office. The representative in the 21st, Elise Stefanik, is also the chair of the Republican conference after Liz Cheney was ousted, mainly because Stefanik was more pro-Trump then Cheney, as Cheney certified the election and wanted to impeach Trump, while Stefanik voted to acquit Trump and to object to the Pennsylvania results.
US Senate results
Democrats lost the Senate that the Democrats had gained back in 2006. Despite having a powerful 55-45 advantage, Republicans came back from their landslide defeat in 2008 and gained 9 seats. This put them in a 54-46 advantage, and they also lost zero seats of the 15 they had up. They picked up Alaska, North Carolina, Colorado (which got reverted in 2020), Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, West Virginia, Arkansas and Louisiana.[note 1]This was the largest gain for them since Reagan's Revolution in 1980; even the 1994 Republican Revolution was only +8 seats for the GOP. The Republicans would never get stronger from this point.
Many people say that because the Democrats lost the Senate in this election, it caused them to lose the Supreme Court for a generation, as Obama's nominations were blocked by the Senate, and Trump could pick 3 judges without opposition during his presidency. It's also notable because, for the first time in over 130 years, Arkansas had two Republicans. While trending Republicans for decades before this, it took until very recently for them to fully conquer Arkansas.
In addition to holding three governors’ races in swing states (Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida), the Republicans flipped 4 Republican-held governorships in the following states:
- Illinois—Though otherwise a blue state, Illinois governor actually flipped, breaking the Democrats trifecta. This is due to the fact that, as seen in 2010, Illinois is very prone to wave years. However, in the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats picked it back up.
- Maryland-One of the most solid blue states, Larry Hogan narrowly got elected governor, breaking 60 years of Democratic control in the state (due to supermajorities, Democrats held control from 2003-2007), and cottailed many Republicans to the House, narrowing it up to 91-49, Democrat.
- Massachusetts-This very blue state has a long history of Republican governers including Mitt Romney and Bill Weld, although Democrat supermajorities overturned many vetoes, and the governership flipped in 2006, but the GOP picked it back up in 2014, as the incumbent retired.
- Arkansas-Republicans gained a trifecta for the first time since Reconstruction as they flipped the seat from a term limited governor, whilst maintaining the legislature. This was very impressive in such a deep South state, and marked a political realignment.
Republicans did have numerous setbacks though. An incumbent was defeated in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania, by nearly ten points, which is nearly five points more than what Mitt Romney lost by in 2012. This was, however, due to his extreme unpopularity.  This made him the first incumbent in Pennsylvania to lose re-election since Pennsylvania allowed governors to serve 2 consecutive terms. Also in Alaska, a left leaning independent, Bill Walker, beat the incumbent due to poor approval ratings. They also failed to flip Colorado, and Minnesota. However, Vermont remained undecided as no candidate reached 50%, so it was chosen by the legislature to be a Democrat in a 110-69 vote. That would flip in 2016, as Republican Phil Scott won the open seat as the incumbent retired.
This election is also notable because Iowa governor Terry Branstad became the longest served governor in history after this, winning his 6th term.
In addition to House, Senate, and governors’ races, Republicans achieved success in:
- State legislatures—Both branches of the Nevada legislature flipped, giving Republicans full control. However, in 2016, Democrats would flip back both branches. They also picked up the Minnesota House of Representatives, the New Hampshire House of Representatives (ending a Democratic trifecta), the New Mexico House of Representatives, the West Virginia House of Delegates (ending a trifecta), the Colorado Senate, the New York Senate and the Maine Senate. They also flipped West Virginia's Senate following a senator switching parties.
All of this resulted in nearly half of Americans living under Republican trifectas after the elections.
In June 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a big part of the Voting Rights Act, so states no longer had to clear voting laws with the federal government. Twenty-two states put in voting restrictions, and while a lot of them were sued, this gave courts a big power in who could vote.. These laws range from photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to voter registration restrictions. In addition to that, Connecticut State Representative Christina Ayala and California State Senator Roderick Wright were both arrested for voter fraud.
Several notable milestones came out of the elections. They include:
- Terry Benstrand, governor of Iowa, elected to his 6th term, becomes longest served governor in history.
- Shelley Moore Capito becomes first female senator of West Virginia.
- Nellie Gorbea becomes first Hispanic elected to statewide office in New England, becoming Secretary of State of Rhode Island.
- Maura Healey of Massachusetts becomes first openly gay state attorney general.
- Joni Ernst becomes first woman elected to statewide office in Iowa.
- Mia Love becomes first African-American Republican women in Congress, first Haitian-American in Congress and first African-American elected to Congress from Utah.
- Alex Mooney becomes first Hispanic elected to Congress from West Virginia.
- Perhaps most importantly, Tim Scott of South Carolina becomes the first African American elected to Congress from a former Confederate state since Reconstruction.
- The Louisiana pickup occured after a runoff in December.
- Republicans gain big in state legislative elections, Reuters, November 5, 2014
- 2014 midterm election turnout lowest in 70 years, PBS News, November 10, 2014
- What Happened the Last Time Republicans Had a Majority This Huge?, PoliticoMagazine, November 15, 2014
- 10th District U.S. Rep.: Dold Wins Back Seat He Lost 2 Years Ago, The Red Line Project, November 4, 2014
- Republican Bost defeats incumbent Enyart in Southern Illinois congressional race, St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 4, 2014
- Democrat Brad Schneider defeats GOP US Rep. Bob Dold in rematch, WGN9, November 8, 2016
- Republican Mike Bost wins reelection to U.S. House in Illinois’ 12th Congressional District, Associated Press, November 3, 2020
- Poliquin wins 2nd District race, Cain concedes, Bangor Daily News, November 5, 2014
- Shea-Porter Returns to Congress, Defeats Guinta in New Hampshire’s 1st District, Roll Call, November 9, 2016
- Maine’s Bruce Poliquin Loses in Ranked-Choice Voting, Roll Call, November 15, 2018
- Divided state: Maine splits electoral votes for first time, Boston.com, November 9, 2016
- Trump wins electoral vote in Maine's 2nd Congressional District, The Hill, November 4, 2020
- Lee Zeldin defeats Tim Bishop, Kathleen Rice wins over Bruce Blakeman for Congress, Newsday, November 5, 2014
- This 30-Year-Old Rising GOP Star Just Made History, Business Insider, November 5, 2014
- Katko easily defeats Maffei to win 24th Congressional District, WVRO, November 5, 2014
- Rep. Lee Zeldin announces he's running for governor of New York, says 'Cuomo's got to go', ABC 7, April 8, 2014
- New York's Elise Stefanik Replaces Cheney In Republican Leadership Spot, NPR, May 14, 2021
- Republicans Rule House and Senate for First Time in 8 Years, NBC News, November 4, 2014
- Senate Opens with 54-46 Republican Majority despite Republicans Winning Fewer Votes than Democrats, AllGov, January 6, 2015
- GOP bolsters Senate majority with win in Louisiana runoff, The Denver Post, December 6, 2014
- Republicans seize Senate, gaining full control of Congress, CNN, November 5, 2014
- GOP notches another Senate pickup, Salon, November 12, 2014
- Democrats sat out the 2014 midterms and lost the Supreme Court for a generation, Vox, June 27, 2018
- Republican Tom Cotton wins U.S. Senate seat in Arkansas, Reuters, November 4, 2014
- Seeing red: How Bruce Rauner won Illinois, The DePaulia, November 9, 2014
- Democrats flip at least six governor seats around the country, Concord Monitor, November 7, 2018
- How Larry Hogan won in Maryland, Politico, November 7, 2014
- Republican Charlie Baker defeats Democrat Martha Coakley to win Massachusetts governor's race, MassLive, November 5, 2014
- NBC News Projects: PA's Corbett Ousted by Democrat Tom Wolf, NBC News, November 4, 2014
- Why Is Pennsylvania's Governor So Incredibly Unpopular?, The Atlantic, November 26, 2013
- Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett loses to Democratic challenger Tom Wolf, Lehigh Valley Live, November 5, 2014
- Unity ticket defeats Alaska GOP Gov. Sean Parnell in drawn-out race, Los Angeles Times, November 14, 2014
- Colorado's Democratic governor wins tight re-election victory, Reuters, November 5, 2014
- Minnesota Democratic Gov. Dayton Wins Second Term, CBS Minnesota, November 4, 2014
- Shumlin defeats Milne in Legislature governor vote, Burlington Free Press, January 7, 2015
- Blue, But Bipartisan: Can Vermont Be a Model for the Rest of the U.S.?, U.S. News, August 23, 2021
- Branstad elected to 6th term as Iowa governor, KETV Omaha, November 4, 2014
- Controlling Nevada: Which party runs the state? And for how long?, Las Vegas Sun, November 7, 2016
- How the GOP took the Minnesota House, MPRNEWS, November 5, 2014
- GOP wins control of NM House, Albuquerque Journal, November 4, 2014
- GOP win Colorado Senate, Democrats vow to hold party accountable, The Denver Post, November 8, 2014
- In Rebuke to Democrats, Voters Return Control of New York Senate to G.O.P., New York Times, November 5, 2014
- Party switch gives Republicans control of West Virginia Senate, Washington Post, November 5, 2014
- Nearly half of Americans will now live in states under total GOP control, Washington Post, November 11, 2014
- Supreme Court Invalidates Key Part of Voting Rights Act, New York Times, June 25, 2013
- The State of Voting in 2014, Brennan Center for Justice
- Bridgeport State Rep. Christina Ayala arrested on 19 voting fraud charges, New Haven Register, September 26, 2014
- California State Sen. Roderick Wright Gets 90 Days in Jail, Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2014
- Shelley Moore Capito First Woman Elected As West Virginia Senator, Huffington Post, November 4, 2014
- Gorbea accepts victory in R.I. secretary of state race, first Hispanic in N.E. to win statewide office, Karen Lee Ziner, November 4, 2014
- Maura Healey Becomes First Openly Gay Attorney General In The Country, Huffington Post, November 4, 2014
- Ernst becomes first woman elected statewide in Iowa , Washington Post, November 4, 2014
- Mia Love makes history by winning House seat in Utah, Washington Times, November 5, 2014
- Latinos Make History In WV and RI, Curbelo Defeats Garcia in FL, NBC News, November 4, 2014
- Scott first black senator elected in South since Reconstruction, CNN Politics, November 5, 2014