1986 Midterms - A Reflection
Speaker Tip O'Neil (D-MA) opted not to run for reelection as Democrats maintained their majority in the House.
United States - The 1986 midterms have come and gone and there is little doubt that Washington is about to face a shakeup of a scale unheard of in recent history as both major parties find themselves leaderless. Speaker of the House Tip O'Neil (D-MA) announced early last year that he would not stand for reelection in 1986, opening up a Speakership contest that will reshape the House for the next two years. House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D-TX) has already announced that he intends to step away from leadership due to recent health-related issues, leaving no frontrunner for the position. Republicans similarly find themselves leaderless as House Minority Leader Robert Michel (R-IL) announced his desire to step down, making way for a new leader to take the reins of the House GOP. Pundits expect the upcoming leadership contests to bring politicians from both sides out of the woodwork to stake their claim in the futures of their respective parties.
Republicans find themselves on the losing end of the 1986 midterms despite significant gains relatively maintained in the House from the Reagan Landslide in 1984. Republicans will enter the 100th Session of Congress with 197 seats, a net lose of 2 seats from 1984. Democrats have increased their majority in the House to 238 seats following the surprisingly strong showing of House Republicans in 1984. Preliminary reports seem to indicate a larger number of freshman congressmen elected to serve in the upcoming session on both sides of the aisle.
The most significant event of the night is the Democratic retaking of the Senate, albeit, by a slim margin. Defeats in Florida, Alabama, North Carolina, and North Dakota have given Senate Democrats a 51-49 majority in the Senate. Senate Democrats are expected to be led by Robert Byrd in the upcoming session as Bob Dole returns to his old position as Senate Minority Leader. Republicans across the country faced tough battles due to scandal within the Reagan Administration and discontent with the current state of Congress. The loss of the Senate could be significant for the GOP as there are murmurs of a potential vacancy in the Supreme Court within the next year but those rumors have not been confirmed. All was not completely lost for the GOP in 1986 as they scored a net gain of eight governors mansions while holding key states like California and Illinois under their control.
House of Representatives - 100th Session of Congress
Democratic Party: 238 Seats
Republican Party: 197 Seas
U.S. Senate - 100th Session of Congress
Democratic Party: 51 Seats
Republican Party: 49 Seats