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Which States Have the Longest-Serving U.S. House Delegations?

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Alaska, Massachusetts, and Michigan boast the longest average length of service; Democrats average 5+ years more experience than Republicans

With a turnover of more than one-fifth of the U.S. House in the 2010 election cycle, it is no surprise that the composition of the U.S. House in the 112th Congress is much less seasoned than the 111th.

Overall, the 434 voting members of the House (excluding the vacancy in NY-26) have recorded 4,313.1 years of service, or an average of 9.9 years per representative.

That marks a decrease of more than a year of service from a year ago, when the average length of service was 11.2 years in the nation's lower legislative chamber.

(By comparison, the average length of service in the U.S. Senate today is 11.3 years).

And what states currently have the delegations with the most experience?

Alaska continues to lead the way as it did a year ago, with its at-large Representative Don Young holding the sixth longest tenure in the House at 38 years.

With nine returning incumbents, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts jumped five spots from #7 in 2010 to #2 in 2011 with its 10-member delegation recording 160.2 years of service to date, or an average of 16.0 years.

Despite one-third of its 15 member caucus being freshmen, Michigan still holds the #3 slot, as it did a year ago, at 15.9 years - thanks in large part to holding the 1st (John Dingle), 2nd (John Conyers), 10th (Dale Kildee), and 22nd (Sander Levin) spots on the longest tenure list.

Rounding out the Top 10 are West Virginia at #4 (averaging 14.9 years per member), New Jersey at #5 (14.1 years), California at #6 (14.0 years), Washington at #7 (13.8 years), Wisconsin at #8 (13.7 years), Oregon at #9 (13.1 years), and New York at #10 (13.0 years).

The fasting-climbing states on the longest-tenure list from a year ago are:

· Connecticut (+18 spots): ranked #37 in 2010 to #19 in 2011.
· Iowa (+16): from #33 to #17
· Alabama (+16): from #36 to #20
· Kentucky (+15): from #27 to #12
· Montana (+15): from #30 to #15
· Maryland (+15): from #31 to #16
· Oklahoma (+14): from #35 to #21
· New Hampshire (+14): from #47 to #33
· Ohio (+13): from #38 to #25
· Nebraska (+13): from #39 to #26

The three states whose Representatives have the least amount of service in the House are all represented by freshmen at-large members: Delaware, North Dakota, and South Dakota (0.2 years each).

Kansas, at #47 (0.7 years), has the least experience among states with multi-member delegations, followed by Hawaii at #45 (2.2 years), Arkansas at #44 (2.7 years), Louisiana at #43 (3.2 years), New Mexico at #42 (3.5 years), and Colorado at #41 (3.9 years).

And just as there is significant variation in length of service among the states so too is there between the two parties.

The 193 Democrats remaining in the U.S. House after the 2010 Republican landslide now average more than five years more experience than their 241 GOP counterparts.

The average length of service for Democrats is 12.9 years compared to just 7.6 years for Republicans.

Although they are outnumbered by 48 seats, Democrats have logged 643.3 more years in the House under their belts (2,486.2 years collectively) than the GOP caucus (1,842.9 years).

Despite losing a trio of caucus members to retirement and defeat who had put in over 110 collective years of service (David Obey, Jim Oberstar, Ike Skelton), the average length of service for Democrats increased from 11.5 to 12.9 years from a year ago.

Overall, 10 of the Top 12 current longest-serving members of the U.S. House are Democrats: John Dingell (MI-15, pictured) at 55.3 years, John Conyers (MI-14) at 46.2 years, Charlie Rangel (NY-15) at 40.2 years, Pete Stark (CA-13) at 38.2 years, George Miller (CA-07) and Henry Waxman (CA-30) at 36.2 years, Ed Markey (MA-07) at 34.4 years, and Dale Kildee (MI-05), Norman Dicks (WA-06), and Nick Rahall (WV-03) at 34.2 years.

The only Republicans who have served for more than a third of a century are Bill Young (FL-10) at 40.2 years and Don Young (AK-AL) at 38 years.

This tenure imbalance between the parties is due in part, of course, to the fact that dozens of Democratic incumbents were voted out of office last November.

Only eight of the nearly eight dozen House Freshmen are Democrats, whereas 82 are Republicans. (With another two Republicans taking their seats in November 2010 just after the election - Marlin Stutzman (IN-03) and Tom Reed (NY-29)).

Of the 140 Representatives who have yet to serve two full terms in the House, 110 are Republicans and just 30 are Democrats.

By contrast, of the 189 Representatives who have served more than 10 years in the House, 114 are Democrats and just 75 are Republicans.

Length of Service in the U.S. House by State Delegation

Rank
State
Years
Districts
Average
1
Alaska
38.0
1
38.0
2
Massachusetts
160.2
10
16.0
3
Michigan
238.1
15
15.9
4
West Virginia
44.6
3
14.9
5
New Jersey
183.2
13
14.1
6
California
743.5
53
14.0
7
Washington
123.8
9
13.8
8
Wisconsin
109.3
8
13.7
9
Oregon
65.7
5
13.1
10
New York
362.6
28*
13.0
11
Texas
378.9
32
11.8
12
Kentucky
66.1
6
11.0
13
North Carolina
139.1
13
10.7
14
Virginia
112.9
11
10.3
15
Montana
10.2
1
10.2
16
Maryland
76.6
8
9.6
17
Iowa
47.0
5
9.4
18
Illinois
171.0
19
9.0
19
Connecticut
43.0
5
8.6
20
Alabama
57.4
7
8.2
21
Oklahoma
40.6
5
8.1
21
Indiana
72.7
9
8.1
23
Georgia
104.6
13
8.0
23
Florida
199.1
25
8.0
25
Ohio
142.3
18
7.9
26
Nebraska
22.6
3
7.5
27
Pennsylvania
136.8
19
7.2
28
Utah
20.6
3
6.9
29
Minnesota
53.6
8
6.7
29
Missouri
60.0
9
6.7
31
Tennessee
58.0
9
6.4
31
Arizona
50.9
8
6.4
33
Idaho
12.4
2
6.2
33
New Hampshire
12.4
2
6.2
35
Nevada
16.6
3
5.5
36
Maine
10.4
2
5.2
36
Rhode Island
10.4
2
5.2
38
Mississippi
20.5
4
5.1
39
South Carolina
28.3
6
4.7
40
Vermont
4.2
1
4.2
41
Colorado
27.4
7
3.9
42
New Mexico
10.6
3
3.5
43
Louisiana
22.1
7
3.2
44
Arkansas
10.8
4
2.7
45
Hawaii
4.4
2
2.2
45
Wyoming
2.2
1
2.2
47
Kansas
2.8
4
0.7
48
Delaware
0.2
1
0.2
48
North Dakota
0.2
1
0.2
48
South Dakota
0.2
1
0.2
 
Total
4,313.1
434
9.9
* New York's 26th District is currently vacant. Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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