Compared to previous midterm cycles, Democrat gains in 2018 smaller than usual

The 2018 election cycle, President Donald Trump’s first midterm, saw gains by the Democratic Party in every federal and state government office except the U.S. Senate. However, compared to the first midterms of Presidents Barack Obama (D) (2010), George W. Bush (R) (2002), and Bill Clinton (D) (1994), Democrats’ 2018 gains were the smallest for every office type except governor.
• In the U.S. House, Democrats picked up 41 seats, the lowest number for the out-of-power party since 1994. Republicans gained 64 seats in 2010 and 54 seats in 1994. In 2002, Democrats lost eight seats and they were the out-of-power party. The last time the out-of-power party had lost House seats in a president’s first midterm was 1934.
• Democrats lost one Senate seat between 2016 and 2018, the same number they lost between 2000 and 2002. Republicans picked up five Senate seats in both the 1994 and 2010 midterms.
• Democrats gained 349 state legislative seats, the lowest for the out-of-power party since 1994. Their six pick-ups in state legislative chambers (five state senates and one state house) are also the lowest since 1994.
• In gubernatorial races, Democrats gained seven seats, the most for an out-of-power party since 1994 when Republicans picked up 10. In 2010, Republicans picked up six seats. In 2002 Democrats picked up three seats.
All comparisons are between the midterm’s result and the result of the preceding election (i.e. 2018 is compared to the results of 2016). Some results in the U.S. House and state legislatures are still pending.

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Rob Oldham

Rob Oldham is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at