The Roosevelt Revolution Applied to Congress, 1930-1936

The New Deal period was nothing short of another revolution in American history. A non-violent one to be sure, but this era transformed the public’s expectations from their government, raised taxes left and right, and dramatically expanded the federal government’s size. Welfare and Social Security were created during this period and the national minimum wage was established. These developments likely would not have been possible without substantial legislative gains, and boy did the Democrats ever get them during the Great Depression.

I cannot overstate the devastating impact on Republican influence and policy that the elections from 1930 to 1936 had. These were unquestionably the most disastrous set of elections in the history of the party. The following 26 (27% of the Senate at the time!) Republican senators would lose elections to Democrats from 1930 to 1936. Of these, only John Thomas of Idaho and W. Warren Barbour of New Jersey would return to the Senate, while John Robsion of Kentucky would be elected to the House seat he previously held.

Hiram Bingham III, Connecticut – 1932

Frederic Walcott, Connecticut – 1934

Daniel O. Hastings, Delaware – 1936

John Thomas, Idaho – 1932

Otis F. Glenn, Illinois – 1932

Arthur Robinson, Indiana – 1934

James E. Watson, Indiana – 1932

Lester J. Dickinson, Iowa – 1936

Henry J. Allen, Kansas – 1930

John Robsion, Kentucky  – 1930

Roscoe C. Patterson, Missouri – 1934

George Moses, New Hampshire  – 1932

Warren Barbour, New Jersey – 1936

Hamilton F. Kean, New Jersey – 1934

Tasker L. Oddie, Nevada, 1932

Simeon D. Fess, Ohio – 1934

Roscoe McCulloch, Ohio  – 1930

David A. Reed, Pennsylvania – 1934

Jesse H. Metcalf, Rhode Island – 1936

William B. Pine, Oklahoma – 1930

Felix Hebert, Rhode Island – 1934

William H. McMaster, South Dakota – 1930

Reed Smoot, Utah – 1932

Wesley L. Jones, Washington – 1932

Henry D. Hatfield, West Virginia – 1934

Robert D. Carey, Wyoming  – 1936

When the 75th Congress convened at the start of 1937, only 18 Republican senators remained. The political overreaches of the Roosevelt Administration combined with increasing defections on key votes from Southern Democrats would bring conservatives back as an influential force in Washington after the 1938 election. The GOP, however, was still a minority force. Up until 1995, they would only control the Senate for ten years.

The House names are too numerous to type down, but 161 (37% of the House!) Republican incumbents lost to Democrats from 1930 to 1936. As with the Senate, few of these people returned to office. The breakdown for the years:

1930 – 42

1932 – 73

1934 – 23

1936 – 23

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/94/75th_Congress_United_States_House_of_Representatives.svg/2000px-75th_Congress_United_States_House_of_Representatives.svg.png

When the 75th Congress convened at the start of 1937, only 88 Republicans held seats in the House. While the story in the House was similar to the Senate in terms of influence, until 1995 the Republicans would only control the chamber for four years.

This part of history is why I absolutely never believe doomsday prophecies about the Republicans (or Democrats for that matter). The GOP has sunk to about as low as you can get for a major party and come back.

References

United States House of Representatives elections, 1930. Wikipedia.

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_of_Representatives_elections,_1930

United States House of Representatives elections, 1932. Wikipedia.

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_of_Representatives_elections,_1932

United States House of Representatives elections, 1934. Wikipedia.

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_of_Representatives_elections,_1934

United States House of Representatives elections, 1936. Wikipedia.

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_of_Representatives_elections,_1936

United States Senate elections, 1930. Wikipedia.

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_1930

United States Senate elections, 1932. Wikipedia.

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_1932

United States Senate elections, 1934. Wikipedia.

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_1934

United States Senate elections, 1936. Wikipedia.

Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_1936

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