Yet the success of wealthy candidates also shows that the class-based politics of 2012—focusing largely on a candidate's fortune and outsize lifestyle—may be fading as the economy improves and unemployment falls.
Read MoreBillionaires' votes count more than yours
InIllinois, Gov. Pat Quinn was upset by Bruce Rauner, the venture capitalist worth nearly $1 billion. Quinn criticized Rauner's nine homes, $60 million income and, most famously, his membership in the Napa Valley Reserve, a wine club that costs more than $140,000 to join. Quinn, in contrast, ate on $11 a day to highlight the struggles of lower-income families.
In the end, it didn't appear to work: Rauner declared victory last night calling it a victory for "every family in Illinois."
In Georgia's Senate race, Democrat Michelle Nunn accused GOP opponent and businessman David Perdue of getting rich while sending jobs overseas. One attack ad showed former mill workers from North Carolina who lost their jobs when their company, Pillowtex, shut down shortly after Perdue became its CEO in 2002.
Read MoreMillionaires 'concerned' about inequality
"He walked away with his $1.7 million, and he didn't care if we had a dollar in our pockets," said one worker in the ad.
Perdue won the election Tuesday, and in his victory speech last night he said: "We listened to your concerns, and you want to change the course of this country."