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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The House Democrats' Seat Pickup in Historical Perspective

The latest count puts the national popular vote at 50.8 percent for President Obama, 47.51 percent for Governor Romney, giving the president a 3.29 percent margin.  (This figure is still subject to change as the last of the late votes trickle in.)  With Rep. Allen West's concession in Florida and Rep. Mike McIntyre's apparent lead in North Carolina, House Democrats have scored a net gain of eight seats over their 2010 level.  So how does this seat change rank with other elections since 1896?  About in the middle:  17th of 30 elections.  Actually, the House Democrats' showing is better than it might look at first:  in all the elections where the winning party picked up more seats, the presidential margin was bigger.  Accordingly, 2012 does not seem to be a "coattail" election like 1920, 1932, or 1964.  Rather it was more like a "snapback" election following a  large change in the previous election (i.e., 2010).

Margin Seat Change
1 1932 Franklin D. Roosevelt 17.76% 93
2 1948 Harry S. Truman 4.48% 75
3 1920 Warren G. Harding 26.17% 63
4 1912 Woodrow Wilson 14.44% 62
5 1904 Theodore Roosevelt 18.83% 43
6 1964 Lyndon B. Johnson 22.58% 37
7 1980 Ronald Reagan 9.74% 34
8 1928 Herbert Hoover 17.41% 30
9 1924 Calvin Coolidge 25.22% 22
10 1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower 10.85% 22
11 1944 Franklin D. Roosevelt 7.50% 21
12 2008 Barack Obama 7.27% 21
13 1984 Ronald Reagan 18.21% 16
14 1900 William McKinley 6.12% 13
15 1972 Richard Nixon 23.15% 12
16 1936 Franklin D. Roosevelt 24.26% 11
17 2012 Barack Obama 3.29% 8
18 1940 Franklin D. Roosevelt 9.96% 5
19 1968 Richard Nixon 0.70% 5
20 1996 Bill Clinton 8.51% 3
21 2004 George W. Bush 2.46% 3
22 1976 Jimmy Carter 2.06% 1
23 1956 Dwight D. Eisenhower 15.40% -2
24 2000 George W. Bush -0.51% -2
25 1908 William H. Taft 8.53% -3
26 1988 George H.W. Bush 7.72% -3
27 1992 Bill Clinton 5.56% -9
28 1960 John F. Kennedy 0.17% -20
29 1916 Woodrow Wilson 3.12% -21
30 1896 William McKinley 4.31% -40