‘Democrats Dominate’: The Democratic Party in Congress and the Midterms of 1974 and 1978

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In most histories of the 1970s, the 1978 midterm elections are a harbinger of the ‘Reagan Revolution’ two years later. With the Carter presidency increasingly ensnared by the crises of the 1970s, the Republicans gained seats in the House of Representatives for the first time since Watergate.

This chapter instead puts the focus on the party that technically won those congressional elections: the governing Democratic Party. These were the last midterm elections (to date) in which the Democrats succeeded in maintaining congressional majorities under a Democratic president. Although the Democrats sustained losses in those elections, they still emerged with substantial majorities in both chambers (majorities that either party would envy today). ‘Democrats Dominate’ was the headline in one newspaper. Viewed from another angle, these midterms represented the Democrats consolidating the bumper majorities they had won in the 1974 post-Watergate landslide, and defended in 1976, even in the midst of an increasingly hostile political climate.

This chapter aims to re-capture this moment, not as the twilight of the long Democratic hegemony, but as a moment of contingency when the Democrats sought to rejuvenate their position as the nation’s majority party.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMidterms and Mandates
Subtitle of host publicationElectoral Reassessments of Presidents and Parties
EditorsPatrick Andelic, Robert Mason, Mark McLay
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9781474478212, 9781474478205
ISBN (Print)9781474478182
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2022

Publication series

NameNew Perspectives on the American Presidency
PublisherEdinburgh University Press

Cite this