Freshmen in the House of Representatives and Senate by Political Party: 1913-2008

Freshmen in the House of Representatives
and Senate by Political Party: 1913-2008
Mildred Amer
Specialist in American National Government
Government and Finance Division
Sixty-five freshmen were elected in November 2006 to the 110th Congress: 55 to
the House and 10 to the Senate. Most of the freshmen were Democrats, thus enabling
the party to regain control of both houses of Congress after 12 years. The 103rd Congress
freshmen class (elected in November 1992), which was composed of 110 new
Representatives and 12 new Senators, represented the largest freshman class in more
than four decades. Two years later, in 1994, the Republicans gained control of both the
House and the Senate for the first time in some 40 years when 97 new Members (86 inth
the House, 11 in the Senate) were elected to the 104 Congress. This report will be
updated after the November 2008 elections.
Analysis of Data
Table 1 shows, by party, the number of freshmen elected to the House in each
election beginning in 1912 and those elected to the Senate beginning in 1914. These
starting points were used because the size of the House was fixed at 435 before the
election of 1912 and direct election of Senators commenced after ratification of the
Seventeenth Amendment in 1912. Italicized entries in the table denote the party which
elected the majority of freshmen Members.
Table 1 demonstrates that there can be a rebound effect in which one party has a
majority of freshmen at the beginning of a Congress and the other party recovers part or
all of the loss within the next two elections.1 Another pattern is a party shift occurringnd
and prevailing over time. For example, in the time frame of this report, the 72 through

1 For example, in the House in the 63rd Congress, Democratic freshmen numbered 102,
Republican 44. In the House in the 64th Congress, Republican freshmen numbered 93, Democrats

38. Thus, the total for the two Congresses was 140 new Democrats and 137 new Republicans.

This pattern appears repeatedly in both the House and the Senate. After the Republicans gainedth
control of the House in the 104 Congress with 73 freshmen, the Democratic freshmen totaled

65 in the following two Congresses, while the number of Republican freshmen totaled 49.

75th Congresses (1931-1938) established a Democratic dominance in the House that has
since been overcome by the Republicans three times, in 1947-1948 (80th Congress), 1953-

1954 (83rd Congress), and 1995-2006 (104th -109th Congresses).

The table shows instances in the House and Senate throughout the period of this
study when one party has had a majority of freshmen, but that majority was insufficient
to achieve control of a chamber. For example, see the Senate in the 107th Congress and
both houses for the 76th, 78th, 105th, and 106th Congresses.
Data Sources
The data for the House from 1913 to 1953 were drawn from the lists of freshmen in
Congressional Directories. Congressional Quarterly Inc. publications (including the
yearly Almanacs and Weekly Reports), various Congressional Directories, and other
published accounts were the sources for data on Representatives in subsequent years.
Included in the House numbers are freshmen who were elected in November to fill a
vacancy and then sworn in prior to the convening of the next Congress, as well as
Representatives elected between the November election and the opening day of the next
Congress. Representatives elected to fill vacancies during the course of a Congress were
not counted. Delegates and Resident Commissioners were also not counted.
The majority of data on Senators was obtained from The Senate, Historical Statistics,
1789-1992, by Senator Robert C. Byrd. Data for more recent years were obtained from
Congressional Directories and various published accounts of congressional elections.
Gubernatorial appointees, Senators elected in special elections not held in November, and
Senators who were appointed in an election year and then subsequently elected were not
Returning former Members with interrupted service were also counted as freshmen.
Footnoted are Congresses that included large numbers of these former Members. Those
in which the number of such returnees was small are not identified.

Table 1. Freshmen Members in the House of Representatives and
Senate by Political Party: 1913-2008
Congress andHouseMajorityHouse FreshmenSenateMajoritySenate Freshmen
Y e ars Party PartyDemocrats Republicans O ther Total Democrats Republicans O ther Total
rd, 1913-1914Democratic102447153-----
th, 1915-1916Democratic38934135aDemocratic73-10
th, 1917-1918Democratic3943284Democratic810-18
th, 1919-1920Republican38701109Republican610-16
th, 1921-1922Republican28971126bRepublican413-17
iki/CRS-RS20723th, 1923-1924Republican89413133cRepublican125118
g/wth, 1925-1926Republican2158180Republican39-12
s.orth, 1927-1928Republican2829-57Republican85-13
, 1929-1930Republican2459-83Republican19-10
://wikind, 1931-1932Democratic6219-81Republican144-18
httprd, 1933-1934Democratic134274165Democratic160-6
th, 1935-1936Democratic75286109Democratic1313
th, 1937-1938Democratic7515494Democratic12215
th, 1939-1940Democratic33821116Democratic58-13
th, 1941-1942Democratic4626173Democratic57-12
th, 1943-1944Democratic41641106Democratic310-13
th, 1945-1946Democratic6221-83dDemocratic86-14
th, 1947-1948Republican3573-108Republican415-19
st, 1949-1950Democratic10414-118eDemocratic144-18
nd, 1951-1952Democratic2151173Democratic67-13
rd, 1953-1954Republican3150-81Republican69-15

Congress andHouseMajorityHouse FreshmenSenateMajoritySenate Freshmen
Y e ars Party PartyDemocrats Republicans O ther Total Democrats Republicans O ther Total
th, 1955-1956Democratic3917-56Democratic77-14
th, 1957-1958Democratic2422-46Democratic64-0
th, 1959-1960Democratic6319-82Democratic153-18
th, 1961-1962Democratic1944-63Democratic32-5
th, 1963-1964Democratic3631-67Democratic810
th, 1965-1966Democratic7120-91Democratic51-6
th, 1967-1968Democratic1459-73Democratic25-7
st, 1969-1970Democratic2019-39Democratic59-14
iki/CRS-RS20723nd, 1971-1972Democratic3323-56Democratic55111
g/wrd, 1973-1974Democratic2741169Democratic85-3
leak, 1975-1976Democratic7517-92Democratic82-10
th, 1977-1978Democratic4720-67Democratic98-7
://wikith, 1979-1980Democratic4136-77Democratic911-20
, 1981-1982Democratic2252-74Republican216-18
th, 1983-1984Democratic5724f-81Republican23-5
th, 1985-1986Democratic1231-43Republican52-7
th, 1987-1988Democratic2723-50Democratic1113
st, 1989-1990Democratic1716-33Democratic55-10
nd, 1991-1992Democratic2518144Democratic13-4
rd, 1993-1994Democratic6347-110Democratic75-12
th, 1995-1996Republican1373-86Republican-11-11
th, 1997-1998Republican4232-74Republican69-15
th, 1999-2000Republican2317-40Republican44-8
th, 2001-2002Republican1328-41Repub/Demh8i2-10

Congress andHouseMajorityHouse FreshmenSenateMajoritySenate Freshmen
Y e ars Party PartyDemocrats Republicans O ther Total Democrats Republicans O ther Total
th, 2003-2004Republican2133-54Republican28j-10
th, 2005-2006Republican1624-40Republican279
th, 2007-2008Democratic4213-55Democratic81110
otal 2028 1803 39 3870 g 308 278 4 590

52.4% 46.6%1.0%100%52.2%47.1%0.7%100%

: For House freshmen, various Congressional Directories, 1913-1951, Congressional Quarterly, Inc., and other published accounts of congressional elections from 1953-2006.
the House, the numbers are based on November election results and any special elections held between November and the convening of the next Congress. The numbers include
er Members as well as Representatives simultaneously elected to fill a vacancy in an existing Congress and to their own seat in a new Congress. The numbers do not include special
iki/CRS-RS20723ions or appointments during the course of a Congress. For Senate freshmen, the source was Byrd, Senator Robert C. The Senate, Historical Statistics, 1789-1992 (Washington:
g/w, 1993), pp. 414-415. From 1993 forward, the sources were various Congressional Directories and published accounts of congressional elections. The Senate numbers do not
s.orude gubernatorial appointments, special elections not held in November, or Senators appointed earlier in an election year and then elected in November. Italicized entries in the
leakote the party which elected the majority of freshmen Members.
://wikicludes 19 former Members.
httpcludes 18 former Members.cludes 26 former Members.
cludes 16 former Members.
cludes 22 former Members.
cludes Member-elect who died before taking the oath of office.
he numbers do not include Delegates or Resident
s a result of the November 2000, election, the Senate had 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans at the beginning of the 107 Congress. However, a party switch by a Republican
Senator in June 2000 shifted control of the Senate to the Democrats.
not include Democratic Senator Jean Carnahan (D-MO), who was appointed in December 2000 to fill the vacancy caused by the posthumous election of her husband, Governor
Mel Carnahan.
not include Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who was appointed in December 2002 by her father, Frank Murkowski, to fill the vacancy caused by his election as governor
of Alaska.