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How many national seats did the Republicans lose under Reagan/Bush?

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Approximately 14% of their national seats: Ten seats in the Senate (19%). Nineteen in the House (8%).

To get the percentage we computed seats lost / initial seats for both chambers to get individual seats lost percentages. We then average the percentages together to get a single number, essentially weighting the seats (Senate vs. House) by their relative individual significance.

Origin and Prevalence

Congressional elections are often counter-cyclical, and a recent question that has arisen is how out of line the Republican gain in the legislature and at the state level with historical norms. Here we examine how many seats George Bush lost during his presidency at the national level.

Issues and Analysis

The theory is that while a presidential election may have coattails, they are more than offset but subsequent mid-terms, and higher mobilization of the opposition in the end of the president's term. So we will be measuring the difference between the number of seats held in January 2001 vs. number of seats held in January 2009. It is worth noting that this does not give us the greatest difference, since early vacancies generally swing towards the President's

Senate

On opening day 1981, the Senate was split 53-47, favor of Republicans ( Harry F. Byrd, an independent, represents the 47th vote for the Democrats). By the 1993 opening day, the Senate was split 43-57 in favor of the Democrats, for a total loss of ten seats.

House

In January 1981, the House was split 244-191 in favor of Democrats. By opening day, 1993, there were 259-176 in favor of Democrats.

Further Reading & Data

Data -- every year of the Senate


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