United States Senate elections, 1986
A national pool of contenders, see below.
This set of races was a follow-up on the 1980 Reagan coattail takeover that gave Republicans a majority in the Senate. While in 1980, the so-called Republican "Class of 1980" swept in and took down some of the biggest names in politics, in 1986, the Democrats fielded strong candidates and destroyed the Republican majority. Because many of these Republicans were just faces in the Senate crowd without a strong record of accomplishment, they were fairly easy to take down.
The first Class of '80 member to go was John P. East of North Carolina, who, suffering from cancer, committed suicide in the summer of 1986. He was replaced by James Broyhill, who in turn was defeated by Democratic former governor Terry Sanford in the 1986 elections. James Abdnor, who beat the great George McGovern in 1980, was narrowly defeated by the now-famous Tom Daschle. Mack Mattingly of Georgia ended Herman Talmadge's political career in 1980, but this time was defeated by Wyche Fowler. Slade Gorton of Washington, facing his first re-election bid since ousting Warren Magnuson, lost to Brock Adams. In Alabama, Jeremiah Denton lost to future Republican Richard Shelby.