United States midterm election

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Midterm elections in the United States refer to general elections in the United States that are held two years after the quadrennial (four-year) elections for the President of the United States (i.e. near the midpoint of the four-year presidential term). Federal offices that are up for election during the midterms are members of the United States Congress, including all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, and the full terms for 33 or 34 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate.

In addition, 34 of the 50 U.S. states elect their governors to 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, so additional Senators, governors and other local officials may be elected to partial terms.

Midterm elections usually 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 percent of those eligible to vote actually go to the polls in midterm elections.[1][2] Midterm elections usually see the president's party lose seats in Congress, and also frequently see the president's intraparty opponents gain power.[3]

Historical record of midterm elections[edit]

Midterm elections are sometimes regarded as a referendum on the sitting president's and/or incumbent party's performance.[4][5] The party of the incumbent president tends to lose ground during midterm elections: over the past 21 midterm elections, the President's party has lost an average 30 seats in the House, and an average 4 seats in the Senate; moreover, in only two of those has the President's party gained seats in both houses.

Year Sitting President President's Party Net gain/loss of President's Party
House seats Senate seats
1910 William Taft Republican R-57 R-3
1914 Woodrow Wilson Democratic D-60 D+4
1918 D-22 D-5
1922 Warren Harding Republican R-77 R-7
1926 Calvin Coolidge Republican R-9 R-7
1930 Herbert Hoover Republican R-52 R-8
1934 Franklin D. Roosevelt Democratic D+9 D+9
1938 D-72 D-7
1942 D-45 D-8
1946 Harry S Truman Democratic D-54 D-11
1950 D-28 D-5
1954 Dwight D Eisenhower Republican R-18 R-2
1958 R-48 R-13
1962 John F. Kennedy Democratic D-4 D+2
1966 Lyndon B. Johnson Democratic D-47 D-3
1970 Richard Nixon Republican R-12 R+1
1974 Gerald Ford Republican R-48 R-4
1978 Jimmy Carter Democratic D-15 D-3
1982 Ronald Reagan Republican R-26 0
1986 R-5 R-8
1990 George H. W. Bush Republican R-8 R-1
1994 Bill Clinton Democratic D-54 D-8
1998 D+5 0
2002 George W. Bush Republican R+8 R+2
2006 R-30 R-6
2010 Barack Obama Democratic D-63 D-6
2014 D-13 D-9

Comparison with other U.S. general elections[edit]

Basic rotation of U.S. general elections (fixed-terms only[1])
Year 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Type Presidential Off-yeara Midterm Off-yearb Presidential
President Yes No Yes
Senate Class III (34 seats) No Class I (33 seats) No Class II (33 seats)
House All 435 seats[2] No All 435 seats[3] No All 435 seats[2]
Gubernatorial 11 states, 2 territories
AS, DE, IN, MO, MT, NH, NC, ND, PR, UT, VT, WA, WV
2 states
NJ, VA
36 states, 3 territories[4]
AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, GU, HI, ID, IL, IA, KS, ME, MP, MD, MA, MI, MN, NE, NV, NH, NM, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VI, VT, WI, WY
3 states
KY, LA, MS
11 states, 2 territories
AS, DE, IN, MO, MT, NH, NC, ND, PR, UT, VT, WA, WV
Other state and local offices Varies
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 serve four-year terms.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Demand for Democracy". The Pew Center on the States. Archived from the original on 2017-12-03. Retrieved 2011-10-13. 
  2. ^ Desilver, D. (2014) Voter turnout always drops off for midterm elections, but why? Pew Research Center, July 24, 2014.
  3. ^ Busch, Andrew (1999). Horses in Midstream. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 18–21. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ "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. 

External links[edit]