Wave elections in the United States

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In political science, a wave election is one in which a political party makes major gains. There is no one consensus definition of a wave election. [1] [2] [3]

Political science is a social science which deals with systems of governance, and the analysis of political activities, political thoughts, and political behavior.

A political party is an organized group of people who have the same ideology, or who otherwise have the same political positions, and who field candidates for elections, in an attempt to get them elected and thereby implement the party's agenda.

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Wave elections in the United States

Political analyst Charlie Cook describes wave elections as the result of a "overarching, nationwide dynamic," such as a high or low Presidential approval rating, economic conditions, and scandals. [4] [5] Cook contrasts wave elections with "micro-elections" in which neither party makes significant gains, and candidates, local issues, and other factors not strictly related to party alignment have a stronger role than in wave elections. [4] Although several wave elections may occur in a row, wave elections are usually considered to be the exception rather than the norm. [5] A pick-up of 20 seats in the United States House of Representatives has been used as a cut-off point by analysts such as Stuart Rothenberg. [6] [7] [8] However, political scientist Dan Hopkins has argued that the term has little utility in understanding elections and that there is no clear cut-off point between a wave election and other elections. [9]

Charles Edward Cook Jr. is an American political analyst who specializes in election forecasts and political trends.

United States House of Representatives lower house of the United States Congress

The United States House of Representatives is the lower house of the United States Congress, the Senate being the upper house. Together they compose the national legislature of the United States.

Stuart Rothenberg is an American editor, publisher, and political analyst. He is best known for his biweekly political newsletter The Rothenberg Political Report, now known as Inside Elections. He was also a regular columnist at Roll Call and an occasional op-ed contributor to other publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Orlando Sentinel.

Congressional incumbents in the United States enjoy an electoral advantage over challengers, but a wave election often boosts challengers, resulting in many more incumbents losing than usual during wave elections. [1] A wave election can put into play seats that would otherwise be considered safe for the party holding the seat, and help even flawed challengers defeat incumbents. [1] [6] Since at least 1954, wave elections have always benefited one party at the expense of the other, but the term has also been used to describe a hypothetical scenario in which numerous incumbents from both parties lose their seats. [1] [5] The first election after redistricting is often a wave election, since many incumbents are less firmly rooted in their districts following redistricting, and many other incumbents retire or suffer primary defeats. [1]

Redistricting is the process of drawing electoral district boundaries in the United States. A congressional act passed in 1967 requires that representatives be elected from single-member districts, except when a state has a single representative, in which case one state-wide at-large election be held.

A wave election may also be concurrent with a landslide election, a term which usually refers to decisive victories in Presidential contests. Many wave elections occur during midterm elections, with the party out of power picking up seats. [10] A common pattern involves a party with a victorious Presidential candidate benefiting from a wave election, followed by the opposing party winning a wave election in the next midterm election. [6]

List of wave elections in the United States

In the following elections, one party gained 30 or more seats in the House, picked up at least one seat in the Senate, and did not lose a Presidential election. Years in which significant gains were realized by both parties due to an increase in the size of the House or Senate are not included.

United States Senate Upper house of the United States Congress

The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress which, along with the United States House of Representatives—the lower chamber—comprises the legislature of the United States. The Senate chamber is located in the north wing of the Capitol Building, in Washington, D.C.

United States presidential election 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 50 U.S. states or in Washington, D.C. cast ballots not directly for those offices, but instead for members of the U.S. Electoral College, known as electors. These electors then in turn 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 chooses the winner; if no one receives an absolute majority of the votes for Vice President, then the Senate chooses the winner.

Incumbent Party ControlElection Results
YearPresidentCongressWinning PartyHouse gainSenate gain% of electoral votes
2010 DemocraticDemocraticRepublican636N/A
2006 RepublicanRepublicanDemocratic325N/A
1994 DemocraticDemocraticRepublican548N/A
1980 DemocraticDemocraticRepublican341291
1974 RepublicanDemocraticDemocratic494N/A
1966 DemocraticDemocraticRepublican473N/A
1964 DemocraticDemocraticDemocratic37290
1958 RepublicanDemocraticDemocratic4915N/A
1948 DemocraticRepublicanDemocratic75957
1946 DemocraticDemocraticRepublican5511N/A
1942 DemocraticDemocraticRepublican479N/A
1938 DemocraticDemocraticRepublican818N/A
1932 RepublicanSplitDemocratic971289
1930 RepublicanRepublicanDemocratic528N/A
1928 RepublicanRepublicanRepublican32884
1922 RepublicanRepublicanDemocratic766N/A
1920 DemocraticRepublicanRepublican631076
1912 RepublicanSplitDemocratic61482
1910 RepublicanRepublicanDemocratic587N/A
1894 DemocraticDemocraticRepublican1102N/A
1890 RepublicanRepublicanDemocratic862N/A
1874 RepublicanRepublicanDemocratic949N/A
1870 RepublicanRepublicanDemocratic373N/A
1864 RepublicanRepublicanRepublican50291
1842 Independent [11] WhigDemocratic493N/A
1840 DemocraticDemocraticWhig33680
YearPresidentCongressWinning PartyHouse gainSenate gain% of electoral votes
Incumbent Party ControlElection Results

See also

The coattail effect or down-ballot effect is the tendency for a popular political party leader to attract votes for other candidates of the same party in an election. For example, in the United States, the party of a victorious presidential candidate will often win many seats in Congress as well; these Members of Congress are voted into office "on the coattails" of the president.

A landslide victory is an electoral victory in a political system, when one candidate or party receives an overwhelming majority of the votes or seats in the elected body, thus all but utterly eliminating the opponents. The winning party has reached more voters than usual, and a landslide victory is often seen in hindsight as a turning point in people's views on political matters.

Party divisions of United States Congresses

Party divisions of United States Congresses have played a central role in the organization and operations of both chambers of the United States Congress—the Senate and the House of Representatives—since its establishment as the bicameral legislature of the Federal government of the United States in 1789. Political parties had not been anticipated when the U.S. Constitution was drafted in 1787, nor did they exist at the time the first Senate elections and House elections occurred in 1788 and 1789. Organized political parties developed in the U.S. in the 1790s, but political factions—from which organized parties evolved—began to appear almost immediately after the 1st Congress convened. Those who supported the Washington administration were referred to as "pro-administration" and would eventually form the Federalist Party, while those in opposition joined the emerging Democratic-Republican Party.

Related Research Articles

United States midterm election general elections in the United States that are held two years after the quadrennial elections

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. 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.

1934 United States Senate elections

The United States Senate elections of 1934 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. The Democrats picked up a net of nine seats, giving them a supermajority.

1902 United States House of Representatives elections House elections for the 58th U.S. Congress

Elections to the United States House of Representatives held in 1902 occurred in the middle of President Theodore Roosevelt's first term, about a year after the assassination of President William McKinley in September 1901.

2008 United States House of Representatives elections House elections for the 111th U.S. Congress

The 2008 United States House of Representatives elections were held on November 4, 2008, to elect members to the United States House of Representatives to serve in the 111th United States Congress from January 3, 2009, until January 3, 2011. It coincided with the election of Barack Obama as President. All 435 voting seats, as well as all 6 non-voting seats, were up for election. The Democratic Party, which won a majority of seats in the 2006 election, expanded its control in 2008. The Republican Party, hoping to regain the majority it lost in the 2006 election or at least expand its congressional membership, lost additional seats. With one exception, the only seats to switch from Democratic to Republican had been Republican-held prior to the 2006 elections. Republicans gained five Democratic seats total, while losing 26 of their own, giving the Democrats a net gain of 21 seats, effectively erasing all gains made by the GOP since 1994. In addition, with the defeat of Republican congressman Chris Shays in Connecticut's 4th district, this became the first time since the 1850s that no Republican represented the New England region. The 10.6% popular vote advantage by the Democrats was the largest by either party since 1982, 26 years earlier. Turnout increased due to the 2008 presidential election. The presidential election, 2008 Senate elections, and 2008 state gubernatorial elections, as well as many other state and local elections, occurred on the same date.

2010 United States elections elections in the United States on 2010

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.

The following tables indicate party affiliation in the U.S. state of Florida for the individual elected offices of:

2008 United States House of Representatives elections in New Mexico

The 2008 congressional elections in New Mexico were held on November 4, 2008 to determine New Mexico's representation in the United States House of Representatives. The party primary elections were held June 3, 2008. Martin Heinrich, Harry Teague, and Ben R. Luján, all Democrats, were elected to represent New Mexico in the House. Representatives are elected for two-year terms; the winners of the election currently serve in the 111th Congress, which began on January 4, 2009 and is scheduled to end on January 3, 2011. The election coincided with the 2008 U.S. presidential election and senatorial elections.

2010 United States House of Representatives elections House elections for the 112th U.S. Congress

The 2010 United States House of Representatives elections were held November 2, 2010 as part of the 2010 midterm elections during President Barack Obama's first term in office. Voters of the 50 U.S. states chose 435 U.S. Representatives. Also, voters of the U.S. territories, commonwealths, and the District of Columbia chose their non-voting delegates. U.S. Senate elections and various state and local elections were held on the same date.

2010 United States Senate election in Alabama

The 2010 United States Senate election in Alabama took place on November 2, 2010 alongside other elections to the United States Senate in other states, as well as elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections. Incumbent Republican United States Senator Richard Shelby won re-election to a fifth term.

1998 United States elections Election in the United States on 1998

The 1998 United States elections were held on November 3, 1998 in the middle of Democratic President Bill Clinton's second term. Though Republicans retained control of both chambers of Congress, the elections were unusual in that the president's party gained seats in the House of Representatives.

2012 United States House of Representatives elections House elections for the 113th U.S. Congress

The 2012 United States House of Representatives elections were held on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. It coincided with the reelection of President Barack Obama. Elections were held for all 435 seats representing the 50 U.S. states and also for the delegates from the District of Columbia and five major U.S. territories. The winners of this election cycle served in the 113th United States Congress. This was the first congressional election using districts drawn-up based on the 2010 United States Census.

2018 United States elections election in the United States in November 2018

The 2018 United States elections were held Tuesday, November 6, 2018. These midterm elections occurred during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump. 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.

2016 United States Senate election in Oklahoma

The 2016 United States Senate election in Oklahoma was held November 8, 2016 to elect a member of the United States Senate to represent the State of Oklahoma, concurrently with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as other elections to the United States Senate in other states and elections to the United States House of Representatives and various state and local elections. The primaries were held June 28.

1894 United States elections Election in the United States on 1894

The 1894 United States elections was held on November 6, and elected the members of the 54th United States Congress. These were mid-term elections during Democratic President Grover Cleveland's second term. The Republican landslide of 1894 marked a realigning election In American politics as the nation moved from the Third Party System that had focused on issues of civil war and reconstruction, and entered the Fourth Party System, known as the Progressive Era, which focused on middle class reforms.

1856 United States elections Election in the United States on 1856

The 1856 United States elections elected the members of the 35th United States Congress. The election took place during a major national debate over slavery, with the issue of "Bleeding Kansas" taking center stage. Along with the 1854 election, this election saw the start of the Third Party System, as the Republican Party absorbed the Northern anti-slavery representatives who had been elected in 1854 under the "Opposition Party" ticket as the second most powerful party in Congress. Minnesota and Oregon joined the union before the next election, and elected their respective Congressional delegations to the 35th Congress.

1852 United States elections Election in the United States on 1852

The 1852 United States elections elected the members of the 33rd United States Congress. The election marked the end of the Second Party System, as the Whig Party ceased to function as a national party following this election. Democrats won the presidency and retained control of both houses of Congress.

1848 United States elections Election in the United States on 1848

The 1848 United States elections elected the members of the 31st United States Congress. The election took place during the Second Party System, nine months after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican–American War. With the issue of slavery dividing the nation, the Free Soil Party established itself as the third most powerful party in Congress. California joined the union before the next election, and elected its first Congressional delegation to the 31st Congress. Whigs won the Presidency, but Democrats won a plurality in the House and retained control of the Senate.

1844 United States elections Election in the United States on 1844

The 1844 United States elections elected the members of the 29th United States Congress, and took place during the Second Party System in the midst of the debate over whether to annex Texas. Texas and Iowa joined the union during the 29th Congress. Democrats retained control of the House and took back control of the Presidency and the Senate, re-establishing the dominant position the party had lost in the 1840 election.

1836 United States elections Election in the United States on 1836

The 1836 United States elections elected the members of the 25th United States Congress. The election saw the emergence of the Whig Party, which succeeded the National Republican Party in the Second Party System as the primary opposition to the Democratic Party. The Whigs chose their name in symbolic defiance to the leader of the Democratic Party, "King" Andrew Jackson, and supported a national bank and the American System. Despite the emergence of the Whigs as a durable political party, Democrats retained the Presidency and a majority in both houses of Congress.

2020 United States elections Election in the United States on 2020

The 2020 United States elections will be held on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate, and the office of president of the United States will be contested. Thirteen state and territorial governorships, as well as numerous other state and local elections, will also be contested.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Abramowitz, Alan (22 December 2011). "The Anti-Incumbent Election Myth". University of Virginia Center for Politics. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  2. "Wave elections (1918-2016)/Full report". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2019-01-15.
  3. Green, Matthew (2018). "Was it a 'blue wave' or not? That depends on how you define a 'wave.'". The Washington Post.
  4. 1 2 Cook, Charlie (29 July 2013). "Midterm Elections Could Be a Wave, But Who's Going to Drown?". National Journal. Archived from the original on 1 August 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 Cook, Charlie (19 April 2011). "Wave Elections Might Be Washed Up for Now". National Journal. Archived from the original on 21 April 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 Bai, Matt (8 June 2010). "Democrat in Chief?". New York Times. Retrieved 24 June 2014.
  7. Murse, Tom. "What is a Wave Election?". About.com. Archived from the original on 13 July 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  8. Rothenberg, Stuart (3 February 2011). "Are We Headed for Four Wave Elections in a Row?". Rothenberg Report. Archived from the original on 9 February 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  9. Hopkins, Dan (9 September 2010). "Waves are for Surfing". Monkey Cage. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
  10. Murse, Tim. "5 Biggest Wave Elections". About.com. Archived from the original on 6 April 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  11. President John Tyler was elected as a Whig, but was expelled from the party after disagreements with Congressional Whigs.