Control Of The Us Senate: What Does History Tell Us About How Much It Affects Legislative Policy
Two USC Dornsife political science scholars examine a period in the 1950s when the Senate was evenly divided, nine U.S. senators died and party control of the Senate flipped twice.
With the U.S. Senate evenly split between the Republican and Democratic caucuses something thats only happened three other times two political science scholars at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences were inspired to study one of those periods. Their research regarding the Senate during the 195354 session of Congress, , examines a period of time when nine senators died and one resigned, flipping party control twice.
USC Dornsifes Christian Grose, associate professor of political science and public policy, and Nicholas Napolio, a Ph.D. candidate in political science, share insight on their research and what it might tell us about todays Senate.
The period you studied was particularly tumultuous for the U.S. Senate. What from your research surprised you the most?
I was also surprised by the suddenness of the changes in the Senate and that so many titans of the upper house unexpectedly and sadly died in such a short time period. Its a reminder that history is shaped by who lives, and who does not.
Were not even a year into the current session of Congress. How likely do you think it is that the 50/50 party balance in todays Senate will change before the 2022 election?
USC Dornsife political science scholars Nicholas Napolio and Christian Grose.
Don’t Write Off The Senate Democrats Just Yet
state of GeorgiaQuinnipiac University polllong-term average for the raceThe 3 things that need to happen for Democrats to keep the Senatesimple data modelArizonaNevadaNew HampshirePennsylvaniaOff-the-charts gas price hikes are a big problem for Democrats Arkansas in 2014Indiana in 2016Missouri in 2018Montana in 2020national elections
Republicans Hold The House And Senate But Will That End The Washington Gridlock Even With President Trump
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Buoyed by the victory of Donald Trump, Republicans kept control of the House on Tuesday and hung on to their majority in the U.S. Senate, enshrining at least two years of single-party rule in Washington.
Democrats lost the chamber in 2014 and would have needed a net gain of five seats to retake the Senate with Trump in the White House.
They fell well short.
Many experts and political analysts had predicted a Democratic takeover, given the daunting math facing Republicans who had to defend far more seats and Trumps erratic campaign.
But just as they underestimated the Republican nominee, they failed to account for the resiliency of some of the GOPs most endangered incumbents.
Republicans staked victories in every one of the hardest-fought contests, with one exception. In Illinois, Democratic Rep. Tammy Duckworth knocked off Mark Kirk, long seen as the most vulnerable GOP member of the Senate.
In Wisconsin, Ron Johnson had been all but written off by strategists in both parties. Instead, he handily fended off a comeback attempt by former Democratic Sen. Russell D. Feingold. In North Carolina, Richard M. Burr won a second term despite waging a lackluster campaign.
Republicans, who currently hold 54 of 100 seats, also posted victories in two states once eyed by Democrats as promising takeover opportunities.
Voters seemed equally skeptical of change.
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New Hampshire Hasnt Been Called Yet But That Wont Change The Balance Of Power In The Senate
- New Hampshire, where Sen. Kelly Ayotte has a narrow margin over Gov. Maggie Hassan . Votes have only been counted from 94 percent of precincts, so there is a possibility that Hassan could still win, but with Ayotte wining 48.1 percent of the vote compared to Hassans 47.8 percent, it seems as if Ayotte will hold onto her seat.
Has Trump Put The Republican Party In Danger Of Repeating The 2010 Senate Race
In the course of a sizzling hot summer, predictions for how Democrats will do in the midterm elections have gone from dismal to cautiously optimistic. Many factors have contributed to this turnaround. The Supreme Court reversed a half century of precedent when they overturned Roe v. Wade, giving dispirited Democrats an issue to rally around Biden finally made a deal with his recalcitrant Democrats to pass important elements of his domestic policy agenda and surprisingly strong job numbers countered the threat of imminent recession and proved a strong, if brief, counterpart to the bad economic news around inflation. By August Democrats were tied with Republicans in the generic ballot a question that asks whether voters want Democrats or Republicans in Congress.
At the beginning of the summer, FiveThirtyEight was giving Republicans a 60% chance of holding the Senate but by August 10 their prediction had flipped and they now give Democrats a 60% chance of holding the Senate.
What happened? In addition to a string of positive news for the Democrats, a field of Trump acolytes have been nominated as Republican candidates for the House and Senate . Many of these nominees have won with Trumps endorsement and against the better judgment of others in the Republican Party. These candidates could decrease the chances of a Republican blowout this year, especially in the Senate.
So, what about Trumps 2022 choices?
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Republicans Rule House And Senate For First Time In 8 Years
Republicans captured total control of Congress on Tuesday, riding a wave of voter discontent to take the Senate for the first time in eight years and expand its majority in the House, according to NBC News projections.
The vote will recalibrate the balance of power for President Barack Obamas final two years in office as attention begins to turn to who will succeed him.
NBC News projections showed Republicans picking up Senate seats held by Democrats in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia one more than the six they needed to take the chamber.
In the House, Republicans were projected to finish the night with an advantage of 246-189, plus or minus six seats, well ahead of their current edge of 233-199.
Mitch McConnell of Kentucky survived a challenge from Alison Lundergan Grimes and appeared poised to achieve his dream of becoming majority leader.
Who Ended Up With Majority Control Of The Us Senate
All eyes were on which party would control the U.S. Senate in 2015. The Democratic-controlled Senate in the 113th Congress had a partisan breakdown of 53-45-2, with the two Independents caucusing with the Democrats. For Republicans to take the majority in the Senate, they needed to take at least six of the 36 seats up for election that were held by Democrats, and retain control of the 15 seats held by Republicans. The section updated the seat count for each party throughout the night and the vote totals in the hotly contested races.
* indicates that the incumbent retired in 2014.
|U.S. Senate, Alabama General Election, 2014|
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Visual Guide: The Balance Of Power Between Congress And The Presidency
Which party controls Congress? Which, the White House? The answer reveals the balance of power in the two branches of government that have elected officials .
Americans seem to prefer that the checks-and-balances envisioned by the founders be facilitated by having different parties control Congress and the White House.
- Contrary to popular belief, since post-WWII Congress and the President have been at odds. That is, most of the time the same political party does not control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. Only 16 times since 1945 have both branches of Congress and the Presidency been controlled by the same party Democrats have held this advantage more often than Republicans . However, it has happened five times since 2003, making this seem more common that it has been, historically .
- Congress has usually been controlled by the same party making the odd man out be the President. Since 1945, the House and Senate have been controlled by different parties only seven times . But since 2001, the House and Senate have been controlled by the same party six times. The first three were under Reagan . The other three have been since the 2000 elections, which makes this seem more normal to us than it is, historically. From 1901-1945, this happened only twice.
There have been only two complete turn-overs of Congress since 1949: in 1953, 1955, 1995 and 2007.
Republicans Now Enjoy Unmatched Power In The States It Was A 40
Over the past 40 years, Republicans have quietly gained overwhelming power in state legislatures. It did not happen overnight, and it wont reverse itself soon. The implications could linger for years.
Who controls state legislatures
Who controls state legislatures
Even after the 1980 election when Ronald Reagan was first elected president Democrats still controlled most statehouses: 29 to the Republicans 15. The two parties shared power in the few that remained, all in the Midwest and Northeast.
After the 2020 election, the numbers nearly reversed. Republicans control 30 state legislatures, while Democrats hold only 18.
How did the GOP make such big gains? And what do those gains mean?
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Mcconnell Not Troubled At All By Trumps Suggestion Of Supreme Court Challenge
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended Mr. Trump for falsely claiming that he won reelection, although he acknowledged that the presidential race had not yet been decided.
âItâs not unusual for people to claim they have won the election. I can think of that happening on numerous occasions,â McConnell told reporters in Kentucky. âBut, claiming to win the election is different from finishing the counting.â
âClaiming to win the election is different from finishing the counting,â Mitch McConnell says, adding that Americans âshould not be shockedâ that Democrats and Republicans are both lawyering up for the close races
He also said he was ânot troubled at allâ by the president suggesting that the outcome of the election might be determined by the Supreme Court. The president cannot unilaterally bring a case to the Supreme Court, what itâs unclear what case the Trump campaign would have if it challenged the counting of legally cast absentee ballots.
McConnell, who won his own closely watched reelection race on Tuesday evening, expressed measured confidence about Republicans maintaining their majority in the Senate. He said he believed there is a âchance we will know by the end of the dayâ if Republicans won races in states like Georgia and North Carolina.
Mcconnell Casts Doubt On Republicans Gaining Senate Control
Even though history strongly favors the party out of power in this case the GOP to make gains in midterm races, McConnell has long worried that subpar candidates could play into Democrats’ hands.
While he didn’t mention any names, there are examples across the country.
In Pennsylvania’s open Senate race, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report changed its rating Thursday from “toss up” to “lean Democrat” as GOP nominee Mehmet Oz, a celebrity doctor, struggles against Democrat John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor, who leads in recent polls.
Apart from Oz, Republicans have nominated numerous first-time candidates backed by former President Donald Trump in states such as Georgia, Arizona and Ohio to run against seasoned Democratic politicians. The Senate Leadership Fund, a group aligned with McConnell, recently bought $28 million worth of airtime in Ohio to support Republican nominee J.D. Vance.
The Republican Party establishment alsofailed to recruit preferred candidates in other states, like New Hampshire.
McConnell may be feeling déjà vu from 2010 and 2012 when his party fell short of capturing control of the chamber in part due to weak candidates such as Christine ODonnell in Delaware, Sharron Angle in Nevada and Todd Akin in Missouri.
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What The Midterms Mean For President Obama And 2016
Only one in three voters in exit polls said the country was on the right track, and one in five said the government in Washington could never be trusted to do whats right. Two-thirds said the economic system is unfair.
The Republican swing fit a historical pattern: The last three two-term presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush all served their last two years with the opposing party controlling both houses of Congress.
And the party controlling the White House has lost seats in the House in the midterm election every time but twice since World War II.
In the Senate, Democrat Mark Pryor of Arkansas was ousted by Rep. Tom Cotton, and Mark Udall of Colorado was bounced by Rep. Cory Gardner. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan lost her seat to Thom Tillis.
Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire held off a furious challenge by ex-Sen. Scott Brown.
Republicans Joni Ernst in Iowa, Steve Daines in Montana, Mike Rounds in South Dakota and Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia all captured seats held by retiring Democrats.
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The House of Representatives voted to pass legislation on Tuesday to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the month and suspend the nations borrowing limit, setting up a showdown with Republicans who insist Democrats should act alone to stave off a looming debt crisis. The party line vote was 220-211.
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Balance Of Power Between Congress And The Presidency
Yellow years mark Presidential inauguration.
Brown University, InfoPlease, , Wikipedia
There were 48 Republicans, 47 Democrats and one Farmer-Labor who caucused with Ds.
President Richard Nixon resigned on 07 August 1974. Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in on 08 August 1974. He had been appointed Vice President on 06 December 1973 Spiro Agnew, who ran with Nixon on the 1972 ticket, resigned on 10 October 1973, the same day he pleaded no contest to a felony charge of federal tax evasion.
There were 50 Ds and 50 Rs until May 24, 2001, when Sen. James Jeffords switched to Independent status, effective June 6, 2001 he announced that he would caucus with the Democrats, giving the Democrats a one-seat advantage.
Two Independents . Lieberman was reelected in 2006 as an independent candidate and became an Independent Democrat Sanders was elected in 2006 as an Independent.
Two Independents Arlen Specter was reelected in 2004 as a Republican and became a Democrat on April 30, 2009.
House data Senate independents caucus with Democrats
As of October 20, 2016, there was one vacancy
The party division is 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and 2 Independents . Democrats hold the majority due to the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.
I created this table while I was the US Politics guide at About.com. I left that position in March 2009.
Senator John Barrasso Republican Of Wyoming
Recently re-elected as chairman of GOP policy committee
Barrasso, a medical doctor who graduated from Georgetown and Yale, runs the committee in charge of summarizing and analyzing major GOP legislation. Last week he called the recently announced US-China deal irresponsible and expensive.
To me, this is an agreement thats terrible for the United States and terrific for the Chinese government and for the politicians there, because it allows China to continue to raise their emissions over the next 16 years, Barrasso said.
All of us want to make energy as clean as we can as fast as we can, he said. We want to do it in ways that dont raise the energy costs for American families and impact their jobs, income, ability to provide for their families. Those are the issues we need to be focusing on.
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Mcconnell Turns Senate Republicans Against Jan 6 Commission
Former President Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are also against the commission proposal.
05/19/2021 03:07 PM EDT
Mitch McConnells opposition to a bipartisan proposal to independently investigate the Capitol insurrection is turning GOP senators against the bill, potentially dooming its prospects in the Senate.
The Senate minority leader informed Republicans on Wednesday that he is opposed to the 9/11-style commission that would probe the deadly Jan. 6 riot, as envisioned by the House. And in the wake of McConnells remarks, Sen. Mike Rounds who had expressed support on Tuesday for the idea said he could no longer back the commission in its current form.
Weve had a chance to hear from House leadership about what they saw in the bill. It doesnt appear right now that they believe that it is bipartisan in nature, which to me is extremely disappointing, Rounds said. The way that the bill is written right now, I would feel compelled to vote against it.
McConnell made his remarks opposing the Houses Jan. 6 commission bill, which passed that chamber later Wednesday, at a private breakfast event. A number of Republican senators attended, including Rounds, as well as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.
Its not at all clear what new facts or additional investigation yet another commission could lay on top of the existing efforts by law enforcement and Congress, McConnell said.
Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.
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Th United States Congress
|115th United States Congress|
|1st: January 3, 2017 January 3, 20182nd: January 3, 2018 January 3, 2019|
The 115th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States of America federal government, composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C., from January 3, 2017, to January 3, 2019, during the final weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency and the first two years of Donald Trump’s presidency. The seats in the House were apportioned based on the 2010 United States Census.
The Republican Party retained their majorities in both the House and the Senate, and with Donald Trump being sworn in as President on January 20, 2017, this gave the Republicans an overall federal government trifecta for the first time since the 109th Congress in 2005.
Several political scientists described the legislative accomplishments of this Congress as modest, considering that both Congress and the presidency were under unified Republican Party control. According to a contemporary study, “House and Senate GOP majorities struggled to legislate: GOP fissures and the president frequently undermined the Republican agenda. Most notably, clashes within and between the two parties strained old ways of doing business.”
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