The Closest Ever Senate and House Elections

November 3, 2014

Who says that down-ticket elections aren’t exciting? Here are three stories of very close elections.

Close ElectionsAfter 20 years of service, New Hampshire senator Norris Cotton declined to seek reelection in 1974. Vying for his seat that fall were state insurance commissioner John Durkin and congressional representative Louis Wyman. Wyman was expected to win, and he did…by just 355 votes. Durkin asked for a recount, which gave him the win by a margin of only 10 votes. Another recount was then held, which gave Wyman a victory by, amazingly, two votes. Durkin asked the U.S. Senate to review the election, which declared the seat vacant after eight months of deliberation. In September 1975, a new election was held, which Durkin won handily by an 11 percent margin.

In 1984, Rick McIntyre beat out incumbent Frank McCloskey to represent Indiana’s eighth congressional distict by just 34 votes out of more than 230,000 filed. However, Indiana’s secretary of state ignored instant recounts which found McCloskey to be the winner, and certified McIntyre anyway. Indiana’s state house conducted another recount and re-certified McCloskey with a margin of only four votes.

A lot of Democrats lost their spots in the House and Senate during the “Republican Revolution” elections of 1994. It looked like Connecticut representative Sam Gejdenson would lose his, too. But when all of the votes were counted, and recounted, and then recounted again, he held his seat by 21 votes. (Gejdenson was ultimately voted out in 2000, losing to Rob Simmons, who lost his seat six years later by a mere 83 votes.)