11/05/2014 08:29 am ET Updated Jan 05, 2015

10 Worst Senate/House Defeats of the Last 100 Years

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As I write this, the Democrats have lost seven seats in the Senate and nine seats in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2014 elections. Other election results are too close now or require a run-off election. Some liken the Republican victory to a giant wave. However, when compared to historical elections involving the houses of congress, this win is more like spilling a glass of water.

The following elections are the worst defeats of either Democrats or Republicans in the last 100 years. Surprisingly, these all happen to be midterm elections:

1. 1946

President: Harry S Truman -- Democrat
Senate losses: 12
U.S. House losses: 54

Truman's popularity was at a George W. Bush-level after his unpopular break up of labor strikes and his mishaps with price controls. Republicans took both houses of congress.

2. 1958

President: Dwight D. Eisenhower -- Republican
Senate losses: 13
U.S. Houses losses: 48

While Eisenhower remained personally popular, his party took a huge hit because of a recession, anti-union policies and possibly because we were losing the space race against the Soviet Union at the time. Republicans already had both houses against them going into the election.

3. 1994

President: Bill Clinton -- Democrat
Senate losses: 8
U.S. House losses: 54

Newt Gingrich's "Contract with America" gathered steam amid Clinton's failed health care program. Republicans took both houses of congress from the Democrats. It was the first time the Republicans controlled the US House since 1952.

4. 1922

President: Warren G. Harding -- Republican
Senate losses: 6
U.S. House losses: 77

This tops the list for House of Representative losses in an election for a political party. It was caused because the Republican's split between their liberal and conservative wings, just as they had done ten years previously, sending Woodrow Wilson to the White House in 1912. President Warren G. Harding's lack of leadership may be a huge reason for this result as well. Despite the losses, Republicans held the majority in both houses.

5. 1938

President: Franklin D. Roosevelt -- Democrat
Senate losses: 7
U.S. House losses: 72

Despite FDR's personal popularity, voters punished Roosevelt for attempting to pack the Supreme Court and for removing conservative Democrats. Another major factor was the 1937 recession, which was more of a setback in trying to end the Great Depression. Democrats retained a massive lead in both houses.

6. 1930

President: Herbert Hoover -- Republican
Senate losses: 8
U.S. House losses: 52

The Great Depression hit Hoover and his Republicans hard. Hoover's economic measures to fix the depression seemed to make things worse. Although Republicans lost 60 total seats, they retained a slim majority in both houses, due to gains during the "Roaring Twenties".

7. 2010

President: Barack Obama -- Democrat
Senate losses: 6
U.S. House losses: 63

Democrats suffered major losses due to a perceived weakness in handling the recession, as well as conservative and Tea Party fury towards President Obama and Obamacare. Despite linger on, this was probably the high tide of the Tea Party. Democrats barely held on to the Senate, but they had major losses in the U.S. House from which they still have not recovered.

8. 1942

President: Franklin D. Roosevelt -- Democrat
Senate losses: 8
U.S. House losses: 45

With reservations over the recent entry into World War II, many voters opted for the Republicans. Democrats had major losses in both houses, but still kept the majority in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

9. 2006

President: George W. Bush -- Republican
Senate losses: 6
U.S. House losses: 30

The Iraq War, the mishandling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster and numerous political scandals had voters electing Democrats. With the help of two Independent senators, the Democrats were able to regain both houses of congress. Nancy Pelosi became the first woman to become Speaker of the House.

10. 1974

President: Gerald Ford -- Republican
Senate losses: 4
U.S. House losses: 48

Republican losses were due to Watergate, Nixon's resignation and high inflation. The losses increased the Republican's already large deficit in both houses of congress.

Honorable Mention:


President: Lyndon B. Johnson -- Democrat
Senate losses: 3
U.S. House losses: 47

LBJ's popularity plummeted due to Vietnam, race riots, as well as some backlash to his Great Society program. The Democratic Party's popularity had been so high in the 1964 election that these losses did not lead to a house switch.


President: Woodrow Wilson -- Democrat
Senate losses: none, Democrats gained 4 seats
U.S. House losses: 60

The Republican party, which had split in 1912, reunited. Businesses were booming, which led many people to elect the Republican Party, which was the pro-businesses party at the time. Unlike these other elections, the Democrats were able to gain four senators, despite massive losses in the U.S. House. Democrats retained the lead in both Houses

Note:The worst losses occurred before 1914. In 1894, Democrats lost 107 US Reps due to an economic panic, which was the worst depression in US history at the time. The record for losses in the US senate is 23, when the Democrats lost seats due to the early stages of the Civil War in 1860.