In five elections since 1920, the winning presidential candidate’s party has lost seats in the U.S. House

On Dec. 14, 2020, the Electoral College cast votes for president and vice president of the United States. Joe Biden (D) won 306 electoral votes, defeating President Donald Trump (R) who won 232. In the same 2020 election cycle, Biden’s Democratic party lost 13 U.S. House seats (one race remains uncalled). How many times has a winning presidential candidate’s party lost U.S. House seats in modern American history?

Since 1920, there have been five presidential election years where where the winning presidential candidate’s party lost U.S. House seats. In all of these cases, the party that lost seats in the House maintained the majority it had going into the election.

The greatest loss of seats in the House by a party that won the presidency happened in 1960. That year, John F. Kennedy (D) won the White House for Democrats and the party lost 21 House seats.

The three other cases all occurred after 1990:

  1. In 1992, Bill Clinton (D) won the White House and the Democratic Party lost nine seats in the House.
  2. In 2000, George W. Bush (R) won the White House and the Republican Party lost two seats in the House.
  3. In 2016, Donald Trump (R) won the White House and the Republican Party lost six seats in the House.

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About the author

Samuel Wonacott

Samuel Wonacott is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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