United States midterm election

Last updated

Midterm elections in the United States are the general elections that are held near the midpoint of a president's four-year term of office, on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Federal offices that are up for election during the midterms include all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, and 33 or 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate.

Contents

In addition, 34 of the 50 U.S. states elect their governors for four-year terms during midterm elections, while Vermont and New Hampshire elect governors to two-year terms in both midterm and presidential elections. Thus, 36 governors are elected during midterm elections. Many states also elect officers to their state legislatures in midterm years. There are also elections held at the municipal level. On the ballot are many mayors, other local public offices, and a wide variety of citizen initiatives.

Special elections are often held in conjunction with regular elections, [1] so additional Senators, governors and other local officials may be elected to partial terms.

Midterm elections historically generate lower voter turnout than presidential elections. While the latter have had turnouts of about 50–60% over the past 60 years, only about 40% of those eligible to vote go to the polls in midterm elections. [2] [3] Historically, midterm elections often see the president's party lose seats in Congress, and also frequently see the president's opposite-party opponents gain control of one or both houses of Congress. [4]

Historical record of midterm

Midterm elections are sometimes regarded as a referendum on the sitting president's and/or incumbent party's performance. [5] [6]

The party of the incumbent president tends to lose ground during midterm elections: [7] since World War II, the President's party has lost an average of 26 seats in the House, and an average of four seats in the Senate.

Moreover, since direct public midterm elections were introduced, in only seven of those (under presidents Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump) has the President's party gained seats in the House or the Senate, and of those only two (1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and 2002, George W. Bush) have seen the President's party gain seats in both houses.

The losses suffered during a president's second midterm tend to be more pronounced than during their first midterm, [8] in what is described as a "six-year itch".

YearSitting presidentPresident's partyNet gain/loss of president's party 1
House seatsSenate seats
1790 George Washington None [lower-alpha 1] +3: (37 ► 40) 0: (18 ► 18)
1794 -4: (51 ► 47) +3: (16 ► 19)
1798 John Adams Federalist +3: (57 ► 60) 0: (22 ► 22)
1802 Thomas Jefferson Democratic-Republican +35: (68 ► 103) +5: (17 ► 22)
1806 +2: (114 ► 116) +1: (27 ► 28)
1810 James Madison Democratic-Republican +13: (94 ► 107) 0: (26 ► 26)
1814 +5: (114 ► 119) -3: (26 ► 22)
1818 James Monroe Democratic-Republican +13: (145 ► 158) +2: (28 ► 30)
1822 +34: (155 ► 189) 0: (44 ► 44)
1826 John Quincy Adams Democratic-Republican [lower-alpha 2] -9: (109 ► 100) -2: (21 ► 19)
1830 Andrew Jackson Democratic [lower-alpha 3] -10: (136 ► 126) +1: (25 ► 26)
1834 0: (143 ► 143) +1: (21 ► 22)
1838 Martin Van Buren Democratic -3: (128 ► 125) -7: (35 ► 28)
1842 John Tyler None [lower-alpha 4] -69: (142 ► 73) -3: (30 ► 27)
1846 James K. Polk Democratic -30: (142 ► 112) +2: (33 ► 35)
1850 Millard Fillmore Whig -22: (108 ► 86) -3: (36 ► 33)
1854 Franklin Pierce Democratic -75: (158 ► 83) -3: (36 ► 33)
1858 James Buchanan Democratic -35: (133 ► 98) -4: (32 ► 38)
1862 Abraham Lincoln Republican -23: (108 ► 85) +1: (31 ► 32)
1866 Andrew Johnson National Union [lower-alpha 5] +9: (38 ► 47) 0: (10 ► 10)
1870 Ulysses S. Grant Republican -32: (171 ► 139) -5: (63 ► 58)
1874 -93: (199 ► 106) -10: (52 ► 42)
1878 Rutherford B. Hayes Republican -4: (136 ► 132) -7: (38 ► 31)
1882 Chester A. Arthur Republican -29: (151 ► 118) 0: (37 ► 37)
1886 Grover Cleveland Democratic -16: (183 ► 167) +2: (34 ► 36)
1890 Benjamin Harrison Republican -93: (179 ► 86) -4: (47 ► 43)
1894 Grover Cleveland Democratic -127: (220 ► 93) -4: (44 ► 40)
1898 William McKinley Republican -21: (205 ► 189) +6: (44 ► 50)
1902 Theodore Roosevelt Republican +9: (201 ► 210) 0: (55 ► 55)
1906 -27: (251 ► 224) +2: (58 ► 60)
1910 William Howard Taft Republican -56: (219 ► 163) -9: (59 ► 50)
1914 Woodrow Wilson Democratic -61: (291 ► 230) +3: (50 ► 53)
1918 -22: (214 ► 192) -4: (52 ► 48)
1922 Warren G. Harding Republican -77: (302 ► 225) -7: (60 ► 53)
1926 Calvin Coolidge Republican -9: (247 ► 238) -6: (56 ► 50)
1930 Herbert Hoover Republican -52: (270 ► 218) -6: (56 ► 50)
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic +9: (313 ► 322) +9: (60 ► 69)
1938 -72: (334 ► 262) -7: (75 ► 68)
1942 -45: (267 ► 222) -8: (65 ► 57)
1946 Harry S. Truman Democratic -54: (242 ► 188) -10: (56 ► 46)
1950 -28: (263 ► 235) -5: (54 ► 49)
1954 Dwight D. Eisenhower Republican -18: (221 ► 203) -2: (49 ► 47)
1958 -48: (201 ► 153) -12: (47 ► 35)
1962 John F. Kennedy Democratic -4: (262 ► 258) +4: (64 ► 68)
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic -47: (295 ► 248) -3: (67 ► 64)
1970 Richard Nixon Republican -12: (192 ► 180) +2: (43 ► 45)
1974 Gerald Ford Republican -48: (192 ► 144) -4: (42 ► 38)
1978 Jimmy Carter Democratic -15: (292 ► 277) -2: (61 ► 59)
1982 Ronald Reagan Republican -26: (192 ► 166) 0: (54 ► 54)
1986 -5: (182 ► 177) -8: (53 ► 45)
1990 George H. W. Bush Republican -8: (175 ► 167) -1: (45 ► 44)
1994 Bill Clinton Democratic -54: (258 ► 204) -10: (57 ► 47)
1998 +4: (207 ► 211) 0: (45 ► 45)
2002 George W. Bush Republican +8: (221 ► 229) +2: (49 ► 51)
2006 -32: (231 ► 199) -6: (55 ► 49)
2010 Barack Obama Democratic -63: (256 ► 193) -6: (57 ► 51)
2014 -13: (201 ► 188) -9: (53 ► 44)
2018 Donald Trump Republican -40: (240 ► 200) [lower-alpha 6] +2: (51 ► 53)

1Party shading shows which party controls chamber after that election.

Comparison with other U.S. general elections

Basic rotation of U.S. general elections (fixed-terms only [1] )
Year 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024
TypeGeneral Off-yeara Midterm Off-yearb General
President Yes No Yes
Senate Class II (33 seats) No Class III (34 seats) No Class I (33 seats)
House All 435 seats [2] No All 435 seats [3] No All 435 seats [2]
Governor 11 states, 2 territories
DE, IN, MO, MT, NH, NC, ND, UT, VT, WA, WV, AS, PR
2 states
NJ, VA
36 states, DC, & 3 territories [4]
AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IA, KS, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, NE, NV, NH, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VT, WI, WY, DC (Mayor), GU, MP, VI
3 states
KY, LA, MS
11 states, 2 territories
DE, IN, MO, MT, NH, NC, ND, UT, VT, WA, WV, AS, PR
Lieutenant Governor [5] 5 states, 1 territory
DE, MO, NC, VT, WA, AS
1 state
VA
10 states [6]
AL, AR, CA, GA, ID, NV, OK, RI, TX, VT
2 states
LA, MS
5 states, 1 territory
DE, MO, NC, VT, WA, AS
Secretary of State 8 states
MO, MT, NC, OR, PA, VT, WA, WV
None26 states
AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MA, MI, MN, NE, NV, NM, ND, OH, RI, SC, TX, VT, WI, WY
2 states
KY, MS
8 states
MO, MT, NC, OR, PA, VT, WA, WV
Attorney General 10 states
IN, MO, MT, NC, OR, PA, UT, VT, WA, WV
1 state
VA
29 states, DC, & 2 territories
AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IL, IA, KS, MD, MA, MI, MN, NE, NV, NM, NY, ND, OH, OK, RI, SC, TX, VT, WI, WY, DC, GU, MP
2 states
KY, MS
10 states
IN, MO, MT, NC, OR, PA, UT, VT, WA, WV
State Treasurer [7] 9 states
MO, NC, ND, OR, PA, UT, VT, WA, WV
None23 states
AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, FL (CFO), ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MA, NE, NV, NM, OH, OK, RI, SC, VT, WI, WY
2 states
KY, MS
9 states
MO, NC, ND, OR, PA, UT, VT, WA, WV
State Comptroller/ControllerNoneNone8 states
CA, CT, IL, MD, NV, NY, SC, TX
NoneNone
State Auditor 9 states
MT, NC, ND, PA, UT, VT, WA, WV, GU
None15 states
AL, AR, DE, IN, IA, MA, MN, MO, NE, NM, OH, OK, SD, VT, WY
1 state
KY
9 states
MT, NC, ND, PA, UT, VT, WA, WV, GU
Superintendent of Public Instruction 4 states
MT, NC, ND, WA
1 state
WI
8 states
AZ, CA, GA, ID, OK,
SC, SD (incl. Land), WY
None4 states
MT, NC, ND, WA
Agriculture Commissioner 2 states
NC, WV
None7 states
AL, FL, GA, IA, ND, SC, TX
2 states
KY, MS
2 states
NC, WV
Insurance Commissioner 3 states
NC, ND, WA,
None5 states
DE, CA GA, KS, OK,
2 states
LA, MS
3 states
NC, ND, WA,
Other commissioners & elected officials1 state
NC (Labor)
None8 states
AZ (Mine Inspector), AR (Land), GA (Land), NM (Land), ND (Tax), OK (Labor), OR (Labor), TX (Land)
None1 state
NC (Labor)
State legislatures [8] 44 states, DC, & 5 territories
AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IO, KS, KY, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, MN, NE, NV, NH, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY, DC, AS, GU, MP, PR, VI
2 states
VA, NJ
46 states, DC, & 4 territories
AK, AL, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IO, KS, KY, ME, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MN, NE, NV, NH, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY, DC, AS, GU, MP, VI
4 states
LA, MS, NJ, VA
44 states, DC, & 5 territories
AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IO, KA, KY, ME, MA, MI, MN, MO, MN, NE, NV, NH, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY, DC, AS, GU, MP, PR, VI
State boards of education [9] 8 states, DC, & 3 territories
AL, CO, KS, MI, NE, OH, TX, UT, DC, GU, MP, VI
None8 states, DC, & 3 territories
AL, CO, KS, MI, NE, OH, TX, UT, DC, GU, MP, VI
None8 states, DC, & 3 territories
AL, CO, KS, MI, NE, OH, TX, UT, DC, GU, MP, VI
Other state, local, and tribal officesVaries
1 This table does not include special elections, which may be held to fill political offices that have become vacant between the regularly scheduled elections.
2 As well as all six non-voting delegates of the U.S. House.
3 As well as five non-voting delegates of the U.S. House. The Resident Commissioner of Puerto Rico instead serves a four-year term that coincides with the presidential term.
4 The Governors of New Hampshire and Vermont are each elected to two-year terms. The other 48 state governors and all five territorial governors serve four-year terms.
5 In 26 states and 3 territories the Lieutenant Governor is elected on the same ticket as the Governor: AK, CO, CT, FL, HI, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MD, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, PA, SC, SD, UT, WI, GU, MP, VI.
6 Like the Governor, Vermont's other officials are each elected to two-year terms. All other state officers for all other states listed serve four-year terms.
7 In some states, the comptroller or controller has the duties equivalent to a treasurer. There are some states with both positions, so both have been included separately.
8 This list does not differentiate chambers of each legislature. Forty-nine state legislatures are bicameral; Nebraska is unicameral. Additionally, Washington, DC, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands are unicameral; the other territories are bicameral. All legislatures have varying terms for their members. Many have two-year terms for the lower house and four-year terms for the upper house. Some have all two-year terms and some all four-year terms. Arkansas has a combination of both two- and four-year terms in the same chamber.
9 Most states not listed here have a board appointed by the Governor and legislature. All boards listed here have members that serve four-year staggered terms, except Colorado, which has six-year terms, and Guam, which has two-year terms. Most are elected statewide, some are elected from districts. Louisiana, Ohio, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands have additional members who are appointed.

Notes

  1. Gain/loss numbers are for the Pro-Administration faction (1790) and Federalist Party (1794).
  2. Gain/loss numbers are for the anti-Jacksonian faction.
  3. Gain/loss numbers are for the pro-Jacksonian faction.
  4. Tyler was elected on the Whig ticket in 1840 but expelled from the party in 1841. Gain/loss numbers are for the Whig Party.
  5. Though primarily affiliated with the Democratic Party, Johnson was elected on the National Union ticket in 1864. Gain/loss numbers are for the Democratic Party.
  6. Net loss for President's party include vacancies but not vacancies filled before election day

Related Research Articles

The 100 seats in the United States Senate are divided into three classes for the purpose of determining which seats will be up for election in any two-year cycle, with only one class being up for election at a time. With senators being elected to fixed terms of six years, the classes allow about a third of the seats to be up for election in any presidential or midterm election year instead of having all 100 be up for election at the same time every six years. The seats are also divided in such a way that any given state's two senators are in different classes so that each seat's term ends in different years. Class 1 and 2 consist of 33 seats each, while class 3 consists of 34 seats. Elections for class 1 seats took place in 2018, class 2 in 2020, and the elections for class 3 seats will be held in 2022.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Colorado General Assembly</span> Legislative branch of the state government of Colorado

The Colorado General Assembly is the state legislature of the State of Colorado. It is a bicameral legislature that was created by the 1876 state constitution. Its statutes are codified in the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.). The session laws are published in the Session Laws of Colorado.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vermont General Assembly</span> Legislative branch of the state government of Vermont

The Vermont General Assembly is the legislative body of the state of Vermont, in the United States. The Legislature is formally known as the "General Assembly," but the style of "Legislature" is commonly used, including by the body itself. The General Assembly is a bicameral legislature, consisting of the 150-member Vermont House of Representatives and the 30-member Vermont Senate. Members of the House are elected by single and two-member districts. 58 districts choose one member, and 46 choose two, with the term of service being two years. The Senate includes 30 Senators, elected by eight single-member and nine multi-member districts with two or three members each. It is the only state legislative body in the United States in which a third-party has had continuous representation and been consecutively elected alongside Democrats and Republicans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Elections in the United States</span> Political elections for public offices in the United States

Elections in the United States are held for government officials at the federal, state, and local levels. At the federal level, the nation's head of state, the president, is elected indirectly by the people of each state, through an Electoral College. Today, these electors almost always vote with the popular vote of their state. All members of the federal legislature, the Congress, are directly elected by the people of each state. There are many elected offices at state level, each state having at least an elective governor and legislature. There are also elected offices at the local level, in counties, cities, towns, townships, boroughs, and villages; as well as for special districts and school districts which may transcend county and municipal boundaries. According to a study by political scientist Jennifer Lawless, there were 519,682 elected officials in the United States as of 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">1934 United States Senate elections</span>

The 1934 United States Senate elections were held in the middle of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt's first term. During the Great Depression, voters strongly backed Roosevelt's New Deal and his allies in the Senate, with Democrats picking up a net of nine seats, giving them a supermajority.

An off-year election, sometimes referred to as an "off-cycle election" or a "stealth election", is a general election in the United States which is held when neither a presidential election nor a midterm election takes place. Almost all "off-year" elections are held on odd-numbered years. At times, the term "off-year" may also be used to refer to midterm election years. "Off-cycle" can also refer any election that doesn't take place on November of an even-numbered year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2006 United States elections</span>

The 2006 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 7, 2006, in the middle of Republican President George W. Bush's second term. Democrats won control of both houses of Congress, which was the first and only time either party did so since the 1994 elections. These elections were widely categorized as a Democratic wave.

1998 United States gubernatorial elections

United States gubernatorial elections were held on November 3, 1998, in 36 states and two territories. Going into the election 24 of the seats were held by Republicans, 11 by Democrats, and one by an Independent. The elections changed the national balance of power by the loss of one Republican and the gain of one Independent, although it shifted in nine states. Democrats gained open seats in California and Iowa and defeated incumbents Fob James of Alabama and David Beasley of South Carolina, while Republicans won open seats in Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, and Nevada and the Reform Party won an open Republican governorship in Minnesota. By the end of the election, 23 seats were held by Republicans, 11 by Democrats, one by the Reform Party, and one by an Independent.

Apart from general elections and by-elections, midterm election refers to a type of election where the people can elect their representatives and other subnational officeholders in the middle of the term of the executive. This is usually used to describe elections to a governmental body that are staggered so that the number of offices of that body would not be up for election at the same time. Only a fraction of a body seats are up for election while others are not until the terms of the next set of members are to expire. The legislators may have the same or longer fixed term of office as the executive, which facilitates an election midterm of the tenure of the higher office.

In the United States, a governor serves as the chief executive and commander-in-chief in each of the fifty states and in the five permanently inhabited territories, functioning as head of government therein. As such, governors are responsible for implementing state laws and overseeing the operation of the state executive branch. As state leaders, governors advance and pursue new and revised policies and programs using a variety of tools, among them executive orders, executive budgets, and legislative proposals and vetoes. Governors carry out their management and leadership responsibilities and objectives with the support and assistance of department and agency heads, many of whom they are empowered to appoint. A majority of governors have the authority to appoint state court judges as well, in most cases from a list of names submitted by a nominations committee.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Government of South Dakota</span>

The structure of the Government of South Dakota is based on that of the federal government, with three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial. The structure of the state government is laid out in the Constitution of South Dakota, the highest law in the state. The constitution may be amended either by a majority vote of both houses of the legislature, or by voter initiative.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2008 United States elections</span>

The 2008 United States elections were held on November 4. Democratic Senator Barack Obama of Illinois won the presidential election, by defeating his near rival John McCain and the Democrats bolstered their majority in both Houses of Congress.

2010 United States elections

The 2010 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 2, 2010, in the middle of Democratic President Barack Obama's first term. Republicans ended unified Democratic control of Congress and the presidency by winning a majority in the House of Representatives.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2002 United States elections</span>

The 2002 United States elections were held on November 5, in the middle of Republican President George W. Bush's first term. Republicans won unified control of Congress. In the gubernatorial elections, Democrats won a net gain of one seat. The elections were held just a little under fourteen months after the September 11 attacks. Thus, the elections were heavily overshadowed by the War on Terror, the impending Iraq War, the early 2000s recession, and the sudden death of Democratic Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota about one week before the election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Six-year itch</span> American political pattern

The six-year itch, according to political scientists, is the pattern which takes place during a US president's sixth year in office. This year is characterized by the nation's disgruntled attitude towards the president and their political party. During this time, there is a midterm election and the party in power usually loses a significant number of seats in Congress.

Elections in Vermont Elections in a U.S. state

Elections in Vermont are authorized under Chapter II of the Vermont State Constitution, articles 43–49, which establishes elections for the state level officers, cabinet, and legislature. Articles 50–53 establish the election of county-level officers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">United States presidential election</span> Type of election in the United States

The election of the president and the vice president of the United States is an indirect election in which citizens of the United States who are registered to vote in one of the fifty U.S. states or in Washington, D.C., cast ballots not directly for those offices, but instead for members of the Electoral College. These electors then cast direct votes, known as electoral votes, for president, and for vice president. The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes is then elected to that office. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes for president, the House of Representatives elects the president; likewise if no one receives an absolute majority of the votes for vice president, then the Senate elects the vice president.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2014 United States elections</span>

The 2014 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, in the middle of Democratic President Barack Obama's second term. Republicans retained control of the House of Representatives and won control of the Senate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2018 United States elections</span>

The 2018 United States elections were held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. These midterm elections occurred during Republican Donald Trump's term. Thirty-five of the 100 seats in the United States Senate and all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives were contested. Thirty-nine state and territorial governorships as well as numerous state and local elections were also contested.

2002 Illinois elections

Elections were held in Illinois on Tuesday, November 5, 2002. Primary elections were held on March 19, 2002.

References

  1. Dewhirst, Robert; Rausch, John David (2007). Encyclopedia of the United States Congress. New York: Infobase Publishing. p. 138. ISBN   978-0816050581.
  2. "Demand for Democracy". The Pew Center on the States. Archived from the original on 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  3. Desilver, D. (2014) Voter turnout always drops off for midterm elections, but why? Pew Research Center, July 24, 2014.
  4. Busch, Andrew (1999). Horses in Midstream . University of Pittsburgh Press. pp.  18–21.
  5. Baker, Peter; VandeHei, Jim (2006-11-08). "A Voter Rebuke For Bush, the War And the Right". Washington Post . Retrieved 2010-05-26. Bush and senior adviser Karl Rove tried to replicate that strategy this fall, hoping to keep the election from becoming a referendum on the president's leadership.
  6. "Election '98 Lewinsky factor never materialized". CNN. 1998-11-04. Americans shunned the opportunity to turn Tuesday's midterm elections into a referendum on President Bill Clinton's behavior, dashing Republican hopes of gaining seats in the House and Senate.
  7. Crockett, David (2002). The Opposition Presidency: Leadership and the Constraints of History . College Station: Texas A&M University Press. pp.  228. ISBN   1585441570.
  8. "Explaining Midterm Election Outcomes: A New Theory and an Overview of Existing Explanations" (PDF).