The Democrats Landslide Loss on November 2

by Joel on November 13, 2010

I will start with the fact that the midterm elections cannot be classified as anything other than a distater for the Democrats, particularly in the U.S. House of Representatives. I thought it might be useful to look at the overwhelming loss in the perspective of numbers and history. I might note that I love watching the TV crime show Numb3rs. I’ll also note that I have only occassionally read any blog since taking my two-point charge appointment in June. Maybe things will ease up after a while, but for sure I’ve mised Connexions.

I’m not going to add any further commentary, but just list the loss of seats for either the Republicans or Democrats, along with some history. There is a roughly equivalent gain by the other major party when the other party loses, so I’m not going to list the gains. In some years, at least in the past, there were more independent representatives that came and went over history, which is why, in addition to deaths while in office, that the gains may very slightly from the losses. I’m using “60″ as the number of seats the Democrats lost on November 2, while that may now be a little higher. And, although I’m not going to compare the U.S. Senate numbers, for the Democrats to lose the seat once held by Barack Obama has to sting and maybe be a bit embarrassing.

House of Representatives election losses by party since 1912. I started with 1912 because that is when the size of the House was raised about 11% to its current number of 435 (excepting for the elections of 1958 and 1960 when the House size was temporarily raised by up to three seats, related to the admission of Alaska and Hawaii as states).

1912 Republicans lost 35 seats;
1914 Democrats lost 59 seats;
1916 Democrats lost an additional 21 seats;
1918 Democrats lost an additional 19 seats;
1920 Democrats lost an additional 59 seats, dropping their seats to 132, compared to 300 held by Republicans, leaving the Democrats with 30% of the total seats;
1922 Republicans lost 75 seats;
1924 Democrats lost 24 seats;
1926 Republicans lost 10 seats;
1928 Democrats lost 32 seats;
1930 Republicans lost 49 seats;
1932 Republicans lost an additional 101 seats;
1934 Republicans lost an additional 14 seats;
1936 Republicans lost an additional 14 seats, dropping their total to 89, compared to 333 seats held by the Democrats, leaving the Republicans with 20% of the seats;
1938 Democrats lost 71 seats;
1940 Republicans lost 7 seats;
1942 Democrats, the country in the midst of war, lost 45 seats;
1944 Republicans lost 19 seats as Roosevelt was elected to a 4th term;
1946 Democrats lost 55 seats;
1948 Republicans lost 75 seats as Truman upsets Dewey;
1950 Democrats lost 39 seats;
1952 Democrats lost 21 seats;
1954 Republicans lost 18 seats;
1956 Republicans lost 2 seats even as Eisenhower won a landslide election to the presidency;
1958 Republicans lost 48 seats;
1960 Democrats lost 21 seats even as JFK was elected president;
1962 Democrats lost only 4 seats (this has been attributed largely to the Cuban missile crisis;
1964 Republicans lost 36 seats as Republican Goldwater lost in a landslide;
1966 Democrats lost 47 seats;
1968 Republicans lost 5 seats as Richard Nixon was elected president with around 43% of the popular vote;
1970 Republicans lost 12 seats;
1972 Democrats lost 13 seats as Nixon trounces McGovern by 24 points;
1974 Republicans lost 48 seats, following Nixon’s resignation in August of 1974 due to Watergate;
1976 Republicans lost 1 seat as Jimmy Carter narrowly won the presidency;
1978 Democrats lost 15 seats;
1980 Democrats lost and additional 35 seats in the Reagan landslide win;
1982 Republicans lost 26 seats, as nation endures high unemployment;
1984 Democrats lose 16 seats, as Reagan secures a landslide victory over Mondale;
1986 Republicans lost only 5 seats, but the Democrats re-took the U.S. Senate;
1988 Republicans lose 2 seats as George Bush the elder cruising to election over Dukakis;
1990 Republicans lose 8 seats;
1992 Democrats lose 9 seats but Bill Clinton defeats George Bush 43% to 38%;.
1994 Democrats lose 54 seats and Newt Gingrich, R-Georgia becomes speaker of the House;
1996 Republicans lose but 4 seats even as Bill Clinton coasts to victory over Bob Dole;
1998 Republicans lose 3 seats as public comes to believe the Republicans have overreached on the impeachment issue;
2000 Republicans lose 2 seats as Bush the son is elected president by the U.S. Supreme Court (this is my one diversion from sharing some facts and history and going on to giving an opinion);
2002 Republicans lose only 2 seats as the U.S. And other parts of the world are focused on on 9/11;
2004 Democrats lose 2 seats;
2006 Republicans lose 33 seats and Democrats regain control of the U.S. House for the first time in 12 years;
2008 Republicans lose an additional 20 seats, leaving them with 178 seats and 41% of the total seats;
2010 Democrats lose at least 60 seats, leaving them with approximately 45% of the seats.

Most of the political pollsters and pundits say Obama has little chance of being re-elected. The odds are heavily against Obama, but stranger things have happened.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }


Richard 11.13.10 at 7:32 am

Thanks for giving us some recent histoirical perspective, Joel. And welcome back! We’ve missed you.

Obama was always going to face an uphill struggle. There are powerful forces ranged against him, and he was never going to be able to live up to all those messianic expectations. Do you think the Tea Party is here to stay, or will it burn itself out?


Earl 11.13.10 at 1:51 pm

Ah history! And in this instance how very delightful. Those who once were briefly in the ascent thought to “rule” instead of govern. They are now packing U-Haul trucks and seeking office space elsewhere. As they pack up and move out, they doubtless call to mind that little ditty that is said to have been played when Cornwallis pulled up and left Yorktown… something about the world turned upside down. For Cornwallis it may have been a legend. That was then. This is now. And right now, it is a celebration. For this is a November to remember. Even now the current administration has been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Even now change is in the air. November will come again. Hope is a good thing.


Joel 11.13.10 at 3:42 pm

I think the odds are agains the Tea Party for the long run, particularly if they make efforts to abolish social security. and if Obama finds his voice. And, while the Tea Party folks tend to favor repeal of the health care law, I think the overall electorate may support the health care legislation by this time two years from now. Opinion polls indicate that Tea Party supporters dislike Republicans as much as they dislike Democrats. Further, voters often give a warning sign based on who is president. If a Republican is elected president and with a Republican in the White House, Tea Party voters might become disenchanted enough to vote against the Republicans or to stay at home. I’d give the Tea Part a one in three chance of surviving. Media coverage emphasized Tea Partiers dislike of big government, but didn’t focus nearly as much on the Tea Party’s disdain of “big business.” Republican have been more entrenched with large corporate interests than have the Democrats. Republicans such a Mitt Romeny will tip their hat to the Tea Party, but in office may very well stick with big corporate interests. On the other hand, if the health care plan isn’t repealed and the economy continues to to sputter as regarding high unemployment, the Tea Party may remain a very strong movement.

Also, I’m tempted, but won’t change my posting that the odds are “heavily” against Obama’s re-election to being “significantly” againt re-election.


Paul F. 11.13.10 at 4:52 pm

In order for Obama to not be re-elected, his challenger has to be someone hated by less than half the country.

Sarah Palin doesn’t fit that bill.


PamBG 11.13.10 at 4:54 pm

IMO, this issue is the economy and unemployment. And the economy will probably not get back to post-crash levels for 10 to 15 years. Voters wanted to see the economy improving in the first year of this presidency, which was utterly impossible, no matter what the economic approach.

I think it’s almost a given that the next President will be a Republican. The big question is whether the economy will have turned during that administration sufficiently to keep that President in power or whether there will be another knee-jerk anti-administration vote in 2016 and the Democrats get in again.

I’m sure that Obama understood that there was a great probability that he wouldn’t be reelected. I think that’s why he pushed healthcare “reform” through. And while I’m glad that whole swathes of the population can no longer be denied health insurance coverage at the whim of the insurance companies, I still think it hasn’t fundamentally addressed the problems in the system.


Tim Chesterton 11.13.10 at 6:16 pm

As a Canadian I find it rather amusing that Obama is viewed by the right in the States as a left-winger and and socialist. When I looked carefully at his campaign platform I realised that he was campaigning from about the same political position as the Conservative Party of Canada, and in some respects was to the right of them. And before an American tells me that this just shows how socialist we are in Canada, I’d like to point out that there are in fact very, very few countries in the world where the left is as far to the right as it is in the USA.


PamBG 11.13.10 at 8:04 pm

I’d like to point out that there are in fact very, very few countries in the world where the left is as far to the right as it is in the USA.

Which is part of the reason I feel so displaced in the US after 21 years in the UK.

I’m probably just mourning having left the UK but I really hate the culture here. It is so aggressive and selfish and just generally nasty and ill-willed. Which I think would surprise a lot of Midwesterners who, I believe, see themselves as caring and friendly and nice.

(I’m not talking about person-to-person interactions here. I’m talking about worldview and presuppositions about “how things are”.)


Joel 11.13.10 at 10:21 pm

Going back to 1854, when Republicans first became a really national party, but not giving a rundown by each election year, the Democrats’ biggest loss, up through 1910, was 116 seats in 1894, to leave Republicans with a majority of 246 to 104 Democrats and 7 of other parties or independent. In that same time of 1854 to 1910, the biggest loss for the Republicans was 96 seats in 1874, leaving the Democrats controlling the House 181-107, with 5 seats held by others or vacant.


Kim 11.13.10 at 10:22 pm

What you say, Pam, resonates with what Adam Kotsko, in a recent hard-hitting, bang-on post refers to as ” a society based on the premise of looting … the society of go fuck yourself … a society trying to pretend that we don’t have a society.” The theological tragedy - apostasy - of it is that a lot of US Christians seem to think that this fuck-you society is not far from the kingdom of God.

You are in our prayers here in the UK for your missionary endeavours in the US.

Keep the faith,


Allan R. Bevere 11.13.10 at 10:40 pm

Kim, I just do not think you get it… I do not live in an FU society, but I no longer have the energy nor the motivation to argue otherwise. Please continue in your own reality.


Allan R. Bevere 11.13.10 at 11:23 pm

Pam , you write, “I’m probably just mourning having left the UK but I really hate the culture here. It is so aggressive and selfish and just generally nasty and ill-willed. Which I think would surprise a lot of Midwesterners who, I believe, see themselves as caring and friendly and nice.”

I strongly disagree with you, but I have no desire to argue either. So, whatever you say is fine with me.


PamBG 11.14.10 at 2:30 am

I don’t have any desire to argue either. I’m not sure it can be explained if not experienced and I don’t think it can be experienced by going on vacation and business trips. The UK has a lot of problems, which I put down to apathy. I put the US’s problems down to a culture of selfishness; what we call “individual freedom and responsibility” seems more like selfishness and an unwillingness to share. And it’s not a matter of government hand-outs versus voluntary giving or any other public policy. It’s a mindset and a way of life. Kind of like no one in Rome ever questioning the sport of throwing people to the lions until the Christians came along and questioned it.


Allan R. Bevere 11.14.10 at 2:34 am

Pam, your experience is just not mine. I do not know what else to say.


PamBG 11.14.10 at 2:39 am


Want to dial the phone numbers of people over 50 implying that they are in trouble with the IRS? Absolutely, it’s freedom of speech; why make truth and protecting our elders a value when the freedom to lie is so much more important?

Want to publish outright lies about someone in the national media? Fantastic. Our liable laws only require the victim to prove that you didn’t know what you were saying was a lie. Destroying that person’s reputation through lies? No problem, freedom of speech is much more important than truth and a person’s life.

Want to defraud someone? No problem. This is the land of “buyer beware”. If something seems too good to be true, it is too good to be true and if you fall for the scam, it’s your problem because you’re a sucker. We can’t businesses not being able to do business because they are limited by the truth.

America. Where we don’t value the truth, but we do value those who can lie convincingly. All in the name of freedom of speech, of course. Because what we really value is the power of the powerful.

(I’m not cynical.)


Kim 11.14.10 at 7:26 am

Alan, as to what you might say, you might begin by not patronising me with Please continue in your own reality. I take my bearings not only from my annual visits to my mother in New York when I try to soak up the culture, or from the emails with ridiculous patriotic attachments that I regularly receive from my brother, but above all from what I read and hear in the media and on the better theological blogs. So it’s not as if my “own reality” is solipsistic, it reflects the reality of a lot of people, a lot of Americans, including, evidenlty, Pam, who has bi-national experience in this matter. So if I am, perhaps, too critical, perhaps you are too complacent.


Allan R. Bevere 11.14.10 at 12:43 pm

I don’t believe I’m complacent and have been highly critical of Christianity in America as well. What I object to is this painting with such broad brush strokes. There are certainly selfish people in the US, but to say the culture is one of selfishness is in my view over the top. The same is true when you say too many Christians in the US think an FU society is not far from the Kingdom of God.


PamBG 11.14.10 at 1:04 pm

We all have different perceptions and that makes life interesting. I know that you have been highly critical of Christianity in America, Allan, but I’m closer to Kim’s perspective. Maybe “FU” is a bit strong by “Who are you and you think I should care about you why????” isn’t, I don’t think. I’m not talking about family life or church life; I’m talking about the values of the culture in general. This is part of what I’ve been saying all along and may be the difference in our views.

In Britain, the society I experienced was “We should care about our communities and about pulling together. We should care that everyone has a basic standard of living and healthcare.” Where this is now breaking down, I think, is that there is a more apathetic selfishness. Not so much “FU” as “Why bother because the problems aren’t going to go away, are they, and consumer culture is absorbing me at the moment.”

To me, the healthcare debate was paradigmatic. I think that Europeans can understand vigorous debate about exactly how healthcare should be delivered in order to be medically effective and cost effective. But only an American could culturally understand the concept that it would be immoral for a society to take on the responsibility of the healthcare of all individuals in it. And that’s because we value money, selfishness and the power of the powerful over the good of the community.


PamBG 11.14.10 at 1:04 pm

Messed up coding.


Joel 11.15.10 at 4:28 pm

I think their is substantial greed in the U.S.A. , and one that has been increasing. One statistic on its own reveals that greed has become greatly ingrained into the American psyche. In 1965, the average CEO pay was 24 times that of the average worker. Forty years later, in 2005, the ratio was 262 to 1.

In the the United Methodist Church as of eight years ago, the highest U.S. clergy compensation was $230,000, (it would be $279,000 today if compensation kept up with the inflation rate) while the lowest paid clergy with a spouse and family could sometimes qualify for various public welfare programs. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that fellowship with fellow clergy has become more aligned by the amount of salary. Now it could be said that fellowship aligns this way due to shared interest by church size. But I think it has become more than that in some conferences, reflecting a more secular value than a Biblical model.


Earl 11.16.10 at 3:18 pm

The above bittersweet expatriate perspectives of the American political and social experience prove how apt is the observation that right or wrong, good or bad depend upon whose ox is being gored.


dh 11.16.10 at 4:10 pm

Kim, you deserve to be patronized. The fact is the super majority disagree with your hogwash. To quote something that is hypocritical by using language like Adam Kotsko shows more apostasy than anything I have ever heard. What is the problem with the US is not unlike the UK: the promotion of sexual sin wherever and whatever it may be, the lack of morality in language, the promtion of reletavism that attempts to diminish the need for Faith, the growing amount of atheism/agnostiscm, the denial of the deity of Christ/Trinity, the promotion of abortion, the promotion pornography, pursuit of greed either from the rich toward the poor or from the poor to the rich, envy of everything including of the rich, etc.

No one seems to address that care for the poor should not be pursued in such a way that more poor people are created.


dh 11.16.10 at 6:16 pm

To get back to the post: Can we just say that this was the biggest loss to a political party since 1948?

2000 elected by the Supreme Court what hogwash. To force the ocunting of ballots that had multiple chads missing is a violation of election law and the Supreme Court upheld that. Florida had the law and the Supreme Court upheld that Florida law and that is the facts. The rest is conspiracy hypothesis lala land. Are you going to be unbiased and go back to the JFK election where dead people voted in Illinois and bring up (for the sake of argument) the fact that Nixon had more popular vote than JFK? No you will continue to pick and choose your conspiracy.

For me personally I have no problem with JFK winning other than the dead people voting part but I’m not going to wine and complain about it for JFK had won more state votes than Nixon. The beauty of the founding fathers is that they understood the proper balance of power between states and the federal government and the importance for candidates to go to each and every state for votes as opposed to the larger states. If the popular vote was solely in place for elections nobody would ever step foot away from the coasts. I’m also not going to complain that Perot ran taking away votes from Bush I keeping Bush I from winning against Clinton. Clinton didn’t win the majority of the electorate but won the electoral college and as such deserved the win without any complaints. I’m only mentioning this to point out how ridiculous it is to say that the Supreme Court gave the elelction to GWB and how there are many arguments from the other side that can be brought up that I would never bring up that are just as ridiculous as your Supreme Court comment.


dh 11.16.10 at 6:22 pm

The Founding Fathers also understood the beauty of coming up with the proper checks and balance that the Congress/Presidency/Supreme Court (three branches) are. If the people who voted in 2010 truly understood checks and balances maybe they would have changed their votes in Congress in 2008? However, there is one area where the founding fathers might not have understood the concept of “caucusing with a party”. My view is that if you leave a party you should not be allowed to causus with any party. If you run as an independent you should not be allowed to caucus with a party as well. aka Lieberman, Spector, Sanders, etc., etc.


Earl 11.17.10 at 5:34 pm

“Can we just say that this was the biggest loss to a political party since 1948?” There is that and much more to be said. Briefly liberal democrats are picking up the pieces that remain of a November disaster that has wiped out a generation of democrats at the state and federal level. Wholesale turnover of state legislatures and governorships combined with population loss in blue states and population gains in red states means Conservatives and Republicans will control the process of redistricting that will shape the composition of the House for the next decade and dramatically influence the election cycle of 2012. That election cycle will determine the fate of the presidency. And of extreme significance, during that election cycle democrats will have 21 senate seats vulnerable with a very real risk of losing a net of 15-17 seats. This reality means few democrat senators will have much stomach to support the administration’s legislative policies. Many will have to maintain their overt opposition to the administration in order to survive 2012. For a few their only option will be to bolt to the Republicans.


dh 11.17.10 at 6:04 pm

Thanks Earl. I totally agree and like your analysis. However, when one looks at it from a headline persepctive it is pretty dramatic: “Biggest Loss by a US Party Since 1948″ is not only a fact but a dramatic fact. At the same time on top of that, just as you point out, the negative impact is worse when one or for that matter the Democrats dig deeper factually as you pointed out. Grim for the Democrat Party is all that one can say. However, I will continue to stay humble for a lot can happen in 2 years.


Kim 11.17.10 at 6:22 pm

For me personally I have no problem with JFK winning other than the dead people voting part

Yeah, but they all had more sense than the people who voted for Nixon.

However, I will continue to stay humble for a lot can happen in 2 years.

DH, doesn’t it occur to you that if a person calls himself humble he isn’t?


dh 11.17.10 at 6:48 pm

Kim, where have I stated anything other than facts? I truly am not gloating. facts are facts. If one doesn’t like the facts then there is nothing more that needs to be said unless the facts are in question and that is where discussion can take place and interaction as everybody on blogs do.

With regard to Nixon, other than being a narcisist and a crook, he actually did some things that any liberal person would appreciate. He negotiated with the Chinese, USSR, etc. without preconditions just like Obama said he would do during the election. He probably was one of the great diplomats of the day but under difficult circumstances.

Also interesting that Nixon gets the ridicule for Vietnam when it was LBJ who magnified the campaign. At least Nixon would have been and was better at the same time than LBJ. The point being it was known late after Nixon won the second time that he was a crook. Up until that time he actualy was a fairly good President. He might not have been as Conservative as I would like (his Supreme Court justice nominees, etc., etc.) but many political scientists laud Nixon up to a point.


Earl 11.17.10 at 7:37 pm

“JFK winning other than the dead people voting part.” That’s old school. Now they simply go out to the parking lot and look in the trunk of the car to get the necessary votes to turn an election.

dh … remember, facts are hard things. Some folks have a hard time with hard things… like facts. The facts are that the current administration and its party supporters in the congress and senate have been given a “shellacking” by the ballot pen of the American voter on a scale not seen in the modern era. The facts are that unless there is a dramatic economic turn-around, democrats are very vulnerable to and must prepare themselves for a second tidal wave of in Nov. 2012.


dh 11.17.10 at 7:54 pm

I totally agree with you. Hopefully you appreciate how I’m presenting them to those who have a difficulty with facts “Greatest loss to a party since 1948″. For those with a difficulty with facts you have to present them in a “childlike way” or “bullet point” (aka headlines) to get the point across. I totally agree that the loss is way bigger as you mentioned. However, for some strange reason when people are addressed with facts that are long winded that they disagree with are more quick to deny them for length just for the sake of length.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>