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

Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

Political Crumbs

Six for Thirteen

Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


Seeing Red

Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


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