A Romney Senate run would set a record for the modern era

If Mitt Romney does run for Senate in 2018, he would be a shoo-in to win a seat in Washington. But, a run would set a record for the longest gap between a losing Senate run and a subsequent victory.

Romney lost a bid for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts 24 years ago. An analysis by Smart Politics finds that’s the longest gap in the direct election era of the U.S. Senate.

Romney launched his first U.S. Senate bid from Massachusetts in 1994. The businessman easily won the GOP primary that cycle with 82 percent of the vote en route to facing six-term Democrat Ted Kennedy.


Kennedy defeated Romney by a decisive 17.1 points, although it was the closest race the lawmaker would ever face among the seven reelection victories he would record from 1964 through 2006 (with Romney besting millionaire Raymond Shamie’s 22.6-point loss in 1982).


A victory by Romney in 2018 – two-dozen years after that defeat – would break a 56-year old record set by Republican Milward Simpson of Wyoming in 1962.

Simpson holds the chamber’s all-time mark in the direct election era seeing 22 years pass between his losing campaign as the GOP nominee for the office in 1940 and his special election victory in 1962.


In the direct election era, a total of 63 losing nominees went on to win U.S. Senate elections with 46 of these doing so within six years after their loss, or 73 percent.


Twenty-nine of these nominees were victorious within two years, one within three years, eight within four years, and eight within six years.


In the extremely unlikely event that Romney receives his party’s nomination but loses the general election, he would not set the record for the longest period between

defeats by major party nominees – he would tie for second.


The longest stretch between losses by a major party U.S. Senate nominee is held by Republican Jeff Bell of New Jersey at 36 years.