Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Reapportionment Election Cycles See Highest Turnover in Partisan Control of Presidency

Bookmark and Share

Political parties have lost control of the White House in years ending in '2' at more than twice the rate than all other election cycles since the 1850s

With the U.S. Census Bureau set to announce new reapportionment numbers on Tuesday, political analysts are observing how the new allotment of U.S. House seats will make the 2012 electoral map more difficult for President Barack Obama during his reelection campaign.

Solid Republican states in presidential elections (e.g. Texas, Utah, South Carolina, Georgia) are poised to gain seats (and electoral votes) while solid Democratic states (e.g. New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey) are poised to lose seats.

If Obama does indeed lose reelection in 2012, it will not come as a surprise when viewed through the lens of history.

A Smart Politics study of presidential election results dating back 40 cycles to 1852 finds that presidential election years ending in '2' have seen more changes in partisan control of the White House than any other cycle.

Election cycles with newly apportioned congressional districts have seen a change in presidential control 75 percent of the time (six of eight cycles), compared to just 34 percent of the time in years ending in '0,' '4,' '6,' or '8' (11 of 32 cycles).

Since the 1890s, only once has a political party retained presidential power during a reapportionment cycle (Richard Nixon for the GOP in 1972):

· In 1892, Democrat Grover Cleveland defeated incumbent Republican Benjamin Harrison (who had defeated Cleveland in 1888).

· In 1912, Democrat Woodrow Wilson defeated incumbent Republican William Taft (and Progressive Teddy Roosevelt).

· In 1932, Democrat Franklin Roosevelt defeated incumbent Republican Herbert Hoover.

· In 1952, Republican Dwight Eisenhower won back the presidency for Republicans over Adlai Stevenson after Democrat Harry Truman opted not to run for reelection.

· In 1992, Democrat Bill Clinton, with an assist from Reform Party candidate Ross Perot, defeated incumbent Republican George H.W. Bush.

In 1852, Democrats also pried back control of the White House - this time from the Whigs - with Franklin Pierce's landslide victory over Whig nominee Winfield Scott.

The only other incumbent party victory in a reapportionment cycle since the 1850s was Republican Ulysses S. Grant's reelection rout in 1872 over Democrat Horace Greeley.

But while political parties have had difficulty maintaining control of the presidency during years ending in '2' - the reverse has been the case in other election cycles.

Since the 1850s, incumbent partisan control of the presidency has been maintained:

· In 7 of 8 cycles in years ending in '4': 1864 (Lincoln), 1904 (T. Roosevelt), 1924 (Coolidge), 1944 (FDR), 1964 (LBJ), 1984 (Reagan), and 2004 (George W. Bush)

· In 6 of 8 cycles ending in '6': 1856 (Buchanan), 1876 (Hayes), 1916 (Wilson), 1936 (FDR), 1956 (Eisenhower), and 1996 (Clinton)

· In 5 of 8 cycles ending in '8': 1868 (Grant), 1908 (Taft), 1928 (Hoover), 1948 (Truman), and 1988 (George H.W. Bush)

· In 3 of 8 cycles ending in '0': 1880 (Garfield), 1900 (McKinley), and 1940 (FDR)

Overall, incumbent parties have won 21 elections during non-reapportionment years and lost just 11, or a 66 percent rate of holding the presidency.

That compares to just a 25 percent success rate in reapportionment years (two of eight).

Incumbent Party Success in Presidential Elections By Cycle, 1852-2008

Year
Won
Lost
Percent
Ending in '2'
2
6
25.0
Ending in '4'
7
1
87.5
Ending in '6'
6
2
75.0
Ending in '8'
5
3
62.5
Ending in '0'
3
5
37.5
Non-reapportionment
21
11
65.6
Data compiled by Smart Politics.

The failure of political parties to keep the White House during reapportionment years comes despite the fact they have run incumbents in six of these eight cycles (in 1872, 1892, 1912, 1932, 1972, and 1992).

Incumbents have run for reelection in 17 of 32 cycles in non-reapportionment years.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Could Russ Feingold Win Herb Kohl's U.S. Senate Seat in 2012?
Next post: South Dakota Edges Minnesota for Largest Population Growth Rate in Midwest

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Which States Have the Longest and Shortest Election Day Voting Hours?

Residents in some North Dakota towns have less than half as many hours to cast their ballots as those in New York State.

Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting