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By Bruce Stanford (@brhstanford)
You often here the phrase “The presidents party loses an average of 32 House seats in their first midterm”
And because of this, we are to assume that the Republicans will automatically lose the House since the Democrats only need 23 seats to take the House back.
However, after further research by our team- we realized those averages weren’t exactly true. Democrat presidents first midterms have been much worse historically than Republican presidents first midterms- much worse. We did an analysis on every presidents first midterm since WWII, and averaged out how each party has done over time. Here were the results.
On average, Democrat presidents lose 35.2 seats in the House. Republican presidents only lose 11.2 seats in the House in their first midterm on average. Again, this is every president since WWII, so this is a very extensive analysis. We studied all first after each president was elected. Which means, Gerald Ford didn’t ever have a midterm since he wasn’t elected, and Harry Truman didn’t have his first midterm until 1950- since he was first elected in 1948.
So when we hear the old saying “the President always loses the House”- this has been much more hard on Democrat presidents. The worst first midterm we’ve ever seen from a President on this list was President Obama in 2010. As for the Republicans, their last 2 opening midterm have been rather quiet- losing only 7 seats in 1990 and actually gaining 8 seats in 2002 (although much of that has to do with 9/11). But even if we toss out 2002 because it was an anomaly due to 9/11, the Republicans average loss would still only 16.0 seats in the House. Not the 23 seats the Democrats need at a minimum.
Here’s one final thought: The Democrats need 23 seats at a minimum to claim the House back. Only once since WWII have the Republicans ever lost more than 23 seats in their first midterm- and it was 26 seats in 1982. Based on these odds, the Democrats would need something historic to take back the House.