United States midterm election

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 Election Day 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.

A 2018 Oklahoma general election ballot, listing candidates for state and local offices, and well as those for U.S. Congress

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]

Background edit

While Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution sets the U.S. President's term of office to four years, Article I, Section 2, Clause 1 sets a two-year term for congressmembers elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Article I, Section 3, Clause 1 then sets a six-year term for those elected to the U.S. Senate, with Clause 2 dividing the chamber into three "classes" so that approximately one-third of those seats are up for election every two years.[5]

The elections for many state and local government offices are held during the midterms so they are not overshadowed or influenced by the presidential election.[citation needed] Still, a number of state and local governments instead prefer to avoid presidential and midterm years altogether and schedule their local races during odd-numbered "off-years".[6]

Historical record of midterm edit

Midterm elections are regarded as a referendum on the sitting president's and/or incumbent party's performance.[7][8]

The party of the incumbent president tends to lose ground during midterm elections:[9] 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 eight of those (under presidents Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Donald Trump, and Joe Biden) 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,[10] in what is described as a "six-year itch".

Year Sitting president President's party Net gain/loss of president's party[a]
House seats Senate seats
1790 George Washington None[b] +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[c] -9: (109 ► 100) -2: (21 ► 19)
1830 Andrew Jackson Democratic[d] -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[e] -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 Democratic +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: (59 ► 53)
2014 -13: (201 ► 188) -9: (55 ► 46)
2018 Donald Trump Republican -41: (241 ► 200) +2: (51 ► 53)
2022 Joe Biden Democratic -9: (222 ► 213) +1: (50 ► 51)
2026 TBD TBD TBD TBD

Comparison with other U.S. general elections edit

Basic rotation of U.S. general elections (fixed-terms only[1])
Year 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026
Type Midterm Off-yeara Presidential year Off-yearb Midterm
President No Yes No
Senate Class III (34 seats) No Class I (33 seats) No Class II (33 seats)
House All 435 seats[3] No All 435 seats[2] No All 435 seats[2]
Governor 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
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
Lieutenant Governor[5] 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
1 state
VA
10 states [6]
AL, AR, CA, GA, ID, NV, OK, RI, TX, VT
Secretary of State 26 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
None 26 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
Attorney General 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
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
State Treasurer[7] 23 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
None 23 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
State Comptroller/Controller 8 states
CA, CT, IL, MD, NV, NY, SC, TX
None None None 8 states
CA, CT, IL, MD, NV, NY, SC, TX
State Auditor 15 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
None 15 states
AL, AR, DE, IN, IA, MA, MN, MO, NE, NM, OH, OK, SD, VT, WY
Superintendent of Public Instruction 8 states
AZ, CA, GA, ID, OK,
SC, SD (incl. Land), WY
None 4 states
MT, NC, ND, WA
1 state
WI
8 states
AZ, CA, GA, ID, OK,
SC, SD (incl. Land), WY
Agriculture Commissioner 7 states
AL, FL, GA, IA, ND, SC, TX
2 states
KY, MS
2 states
NC, WV
None 7 states
AL, FL, GA, IA, ND, SC, TX
Insurance Commissioner 5 states
DE, CA GA, KS, OK,
2 states
LA, MS
3 states
NC, ND, WA,
None 5 states
DE, CA GA, KS, OK,
Other commissioners & elected officials 8 states
AZ (Mine Inspector), AR (Land), GA (Land), NM (Land), ND (Tax), OK (Labor), OR (Labor), TX (Land)
None 1 state
NC (Labor)
None 8 states
AZ (Mine Inspector), AR (Land), GA (Land), NM (Land), ND (Tax), OK (Labor), OR (Labor), TX (Land)
State legislatures[8] 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, 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
State boards of education [9] 8 states, DC, & 3 territories
AL, CO, KS, MI, NE, OH, TX, UT, DC, GU, MP, VI
None 8 states, DC, & 3 territories
AL, CO, KS, MI, NE, OH, TX, UT, DC, GU, MP, VI
None 8 states, DC, & 3 territories
AL, CO, KS, MI, NE, OH, TX, UT, DC, GU, MP, VI
Other state, local, and tribal 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 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 edit

  1. ^ Party shading shows which party controls chamber after that election.
  2. ^ Gain/loss numbers are for the Pro-Administration faction (1790) and Federalist Party (1794).
  3. ^ Gain/loss numbers are for the anti-Jacksonian faction.
  4. ^ Gain/loss numbers are for the pro-Jacksonian faction.
  5. ^ Tyler was elected on the Whig ticket in 1840 but expelled from the party in 1841. Gain/loss numbers are for the Whig Party.

References edit

  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. ^ Waxman, Olivia (November 5, 2018). "Why Do Midterm Elections Even Exist? Here's Why the Framers Scheduled Things This Way". Time.com. Retrieved October 15, 2022.
  6. ^ "Why These 5 States Hold Odd-Year Elections, Bucking The Trend". NPR. November 4, 2019.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ Crockett, David (2002). The Opposition Presidency: Leadership and the Constraints of History. College Station: Texas A&M University Press. pp. 228. ISBN 1585441570.
  10. ^ "Explaining Midterm Election Outcomes: A New Theory and an Overview of Existing Explanations" (PDF).

External links edit