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1944 United States 1948
United States House of Representatives elections, 1946
All 435 seats to the United States House of Representatives
November 2, 1946
Majority party Minority party
Joseph William Martin.jpg Rayburn-Sam-LOC.jpg
Leader Joseph Martin Sam Rayburn
Party Republican Democratic
Leader's seat Massachusetts-14th Texas-4th
Last election 191 seats 242 seats
Seats won 246 188
Seat change +55 -54
Percentage 53.5% 48.9%
Swing +6.3% -6.3%

Incumbent Speaker
Sam Rayburn

Joseph Martin

The U.S. House election, 1946 elected (1946) the United States House of Representatives of the 80th United States Congress. It occurred in the middle of President Harry Truman's first term. Truman was thrust into the presidency following the death of Franklin Roosevelt and did not garner the same support as the deceased president. Following many years of Democratic majorities in Congress and Democratic presidents, this election resulted in a Republican majority, with the Republicans picking up 55 seats.

The vote was largely seen as a referendum on Truman, whose approval rating had sunk to 32%[1] over the president's controversial handling of a wave of post-war labor strikes, and even more so, the back-and-forth over whether to end unpopular wartime price controls to handle shortages, particularly in meat and other foodstuffs. While Truman's early months in the White House had been plagued with questions of "What would Roosevelt do if he were alive?" Republicans now began to joke "What would Truman do if he were alive?" and "To err is Truman."[2]

The president's lack of popular support is widely seen as the reason for the Democrats' congressional defeat, the largest since they were trounced in the 1928 pro-Republican wave that brought Herbert Hoover to power. And for the first time since before the Great Depression, Republicans were seen as the party which could best handle the American economy.

Joseph W. Martin, Jr. (R-Massachusetts) became Speaker of the House, exchanging places with Sam Rayburn (D-Texas) who became the new Minority Leader. Notable freshmen included future Presidents (and opponents) John F. Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) and Richard Nixon (R-California), among other veterans of World War II.


Overall results

Party Total seats (change) Seat percentage Popular vote
Democratic Party 188 -54 43.2% 44.3%
Other 1 +0 0.2% 2.3%
Progressive Party 0 -1 0.0% 0.0%
Republican Party 246 +55 56.5% 53.5%
Totals 435 +0 100.0% 100.0%
     80.1-100% Republican      80.1-100% Democratic
     60.1-80% Republican      60.1-80% Democratic
House seats by party holding plurality in state
     6+ Republican gain      6+ Democratic gain
     3-5 Republican gain      3-5 Democratic gain
     1-2 Republican gain      1-2 Democratic gain
     no net change

Results by state



District Incumbent Party Elected Status Opponent
California 1 Clarence F. Lea Democratic
Running Clarence F. Lea (D) (unopposed)
California 2 Clair Engle Democratic
Running Clair Engle (D) (unopposed)
California 3 Justin L. Johnson Republican
Running Justin L. Johnson (R) (unopposed)
California 4 Franck R. Havenner Democratic
Running Franck R. Havenner (D) 52.9%
Truman R. Young (R) 47.1%
California 5 Richard J. Welch Republican
Running Richard J. Welch (R) (unopposed)
California 6 George P. Miller Democratic
Running George P. Miller (D) (unopposed)
California 7 John H. Tolan Democratic
Retiring John J. Allen, Jr. (R) 56.2%
Patrick W. McDonough (D) 43.8%
California 8 John Z. Anderson Republican
Running John Z. Anderson (R) (unopposed)
California 9 Bertrand W. Gearhart Republican
Running Bertrand W. Gearhart (R) 53.7%
Hubert Phillips (D) 46.3%
California 10 Alfred J. Elliott Democratic
Running Alfred J. Elliott (D) (unopposed)
California 11 George E. Outland Democratic
Running Ernest K. Bramblett (R) 53.1%
George E. Outland (D) 46.9%
California 12 Jerry Voorhis Democratic
Running Richard Nixon (R) 56.0%
Jerry Voorhis (D) 42.7%
John Henry Hoeppel (Proh.) 1.3%
California 13 Ned R. Healy Democratic
Running Norris Poulson (R) 51.8%
Ned R. Healy (D) 48.2%
California 14 Helen Gahagan Douglas Democratic
Running Helen Gahagan Douglas (D) 54.4%
Frederick M. Roberts (R) 45.6%
California 15 Gordon L. McDonough Republican
Running Gordon L. McDonough (R) (unopposed)
California 16 Ellis E. Patterson Democratic
Defeated in primary Donald L. Jackson (R) 53.9%
Harold Harby (D) 31.7%
Ellis E. Patterson (W/I) 14.4%
California 17 Cecil R. King Democratic
Running Cecil R. King (D) (unopposed)
California 18 Clyde Doyle Democratic
Running Willis W. Bradley (R) 55.7%
Clyde Doyle (D) 44.3%
California 19 Chet Holifield Democratic
Running Chet Holifield (D) 97.6%
Marshall J. Morrill (W/I) 2.4%
California 20 John Carl Hinshaw Republican
Running John Carl Hinshaw (R) 63.2%
Everett G. Burkhalter (D) 36.8%
California 21 Harry R. Sheppard Democratic
Running Harry R. Sheppard (D) 52.7%
Lowell E. Lathrop (R) 47.3%
California 22 John J. Phillips Republican
Running John J. Phillips (R) 62.1%
Ray Adkinson (D) 37.9%
California 23 Edouard Izac Democratic
Running Charles K. Fletcher (R) 56.3%
Edouard Izac (D) 43.7%


  1. ^ Leuchtenburg, William E. (November 2006). "New Faces of 1946: An unpopular president. A war-weary people. In the midterm elections of 60 years ago, voters took aim at incumbents". Smithsonian (magazine) (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution): p. 2 of 5. Retrieved 2009-05-12. "On October 14, scarcely more than three weeks before midterm elections, Truman bit the bullet. Even when his approval rating dropped to 32 percent, he had told reporters that controls were indispensable. On this night, however, speaking to the largest radio audience since the end of the war, Truman lashed out at "the few men in Congress who, in the service of selfish interests, have been determined for some time to wreck price controls no matter what the cost might be to our people." Then he stunned the nation by announcing that he was lifting controls on meat. With the lid off, prices skyrocketed. The New York Daily News headlined: PRICES SOAR, BUYERS SORE/STEERS JUMP OVER THE MOON. Brickbats flew at the president. "Brother," said Ohio's Clarence J. Brown, chair of the Republican Congressional Committee, "the tide is sweepin' our way.""  
  2. ^ Leuchtenburg. p. 1 of 5.  

See also


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