1938 United States elections

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1938 United States elections
Midterm elections
Election day November 8
Incumbent president Franklin D. Roosevelt (Democratic)
Next Congress 76th
Senate elections
Overall control Democratic Hold
Seats contested 36 of 96 seats
(32 Class 3 seats + 6 special elections)[1]
Net seat change Republican +8[2]
US 1938 senate election map.svg
1938 Senate election results

  Democratic gain   Democratic hold
  Republican gain   Republican hold

House elections
Overall control Democratic Hold
Seats contested All 435 voting seats
Popular vote margin Democratic +1.2%
Net seat change Republican +81

The 1938 United States elections were held on November 8, 1938, in the middle of Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt's second term. The Democratic Party lost 72 seats, mostly to the Republican Party, in the House of Representatives. The Democrats also lost seven seats to the Republicans in the U.S. Senate.[3] This election marked the first time since the Civil War that the six-year itch phenomenon did not result in the president's party losing control of either house, as the Democrats still maintained majorities in both houses of Congress.

The election was a defeat for Roosevelt, as the conservative coalition (an alliance of Republicans and Southern Democrats) took control of Congress and stymied Roosevelt's domestic agenda. Roosevelt had campaigned openly against members of his own party who had not supported the New Deal, but Roosevelt's preferred candidates met with little success across the country. The election took place in the aftermath of the recession of 1937–38 and the defeat of the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 ("the court-packing plan"), and President Roosevelt was at the nadir of his popularity. Republicans picked up Congressional seats for the first time since the start of the Great Depression, and few new major domestic programs became law until the advent of the Great Society in the 1960s.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Two Class 3 seats held both a regularly-scheduled election and a special election in 1938. These two seats are not double-counted for the total number of seats contested.
  2. ^ Republicans picked up seven seats in the regularly-scheduled elections and won an additional seat in the special elections.
  3. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 8, 1938" (PDF). U.S. House of Reps, Office of the Clerk. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  4. ^ Busch, Andrew (1999). Horses in Midstream. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 122–126.
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