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United States Senate election, 1946

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United States Senate election, 1946

United States Senate elections, 1946
United States
width="" colspan=4 |
1944 ←
November 5, 1946
→ 1948
width="" colspan=4 |

width="" colspan = 4 style="text-align: center" | 37 of the 96 seats in the United States Senate
49 seats were needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
 
Leader Wallace White Alben Barkley
Party Republican Democratic
Leader's seat Maine Kentucky
Last election 38 seats 57 seats
Seats before 39 56
Seats won 51 45
Seat change Increase 12 Decrease 11
Popular vote 14,984,498 11,369,078
Percentage 54.5% 41.4%
Swing Increase 8.4% Decrease 8.9%
width="" style="text-align: center" colspan=4 |

width="" colspan=4 style="text-align: center" |
  Republican holds
  Republican gains
  Democratic holds
width="" colspan=4 |
Majority Leader before election

Alben Barkley
Democratic

Elected Majority Leader

Wallace White
Republican

The United States Senate elections of 1946 were in the middle of Democratic President Harry Truman's first term.

The Republican Party took control of the Senate by winning eleven seats from the Democrats.

The vote was largely seen as a referendum on Truman, whose approval rating had sunk to 32% over the president's controversial handling of a wave of post-war labor strikes, such as a nationwide railroad strike in May, at a time when Americans depended on train service for both commuter and long-distance travel. Just as damaging was Truman's back-and-forth over whether to end unpopular wartime price controls to handle shortages, particularly in foodstuffs. For example, price controls on beef had led to a "hamburger famine", but when Truman, in a surprise move, lifted the controls on October 14 — just weeks before the election — meat prices shot up to record levels.

Change in Senate composition

Senate composition before the elections

D8 D7 D6 D5 D4 D3 D2 D1
D9 D10 D11 D12 D13 D14 D15 D16 D17 D18
D28 D27 D26 D25 D24 D23 D22 D21 D20 D19
D29 D30 D31 D32 | D33 | D34 | D35 | D36 | D37 | D38
| D48 | D47 | D46 | D45 | D44 | D43 | D42 | D41 | D40 | D39
rowspan=2 | D49 ← Majority
| D50 | D51 | D52 | D53 | D54 | D55 | D56 | P1 | R39
| R29 | R30 | R31 | R32 | R33 | R34 | R35 | R36 | R37 | R38
| R28 R27 R26 R25 R24 R23 R22 R21 R20 R19
R9 R10 R11 R12 R13 R14 R15 R16 R17 R18
R8 R7 R6 R5 R4 R3 R2 R1

Senate composition as a result of the elections

D8 D7 D6 D5 D4 D3 D2 D1
D9 D10 D11 D12 D13 D14 D15 D16 D17 D18
D28 D27 D26 D25 D24 D23 D22 D21 D20 D19
D29 D30 D31 D32 | D33 | D34 | D35 | D36 | D37 | D38
rowspan=2 | R49+ | R50+ | R51+ | D45O | D44O | D43O | D42O | D41 | D40 | D39
← Majority
| R48+ | R47+ | R46+ | R45+ | R44+ | R43+ | R42+ | R41+ | R40+ | R39O
| R29 | R30 | R31 | R32 | R33 | R34 | R35O | R36O | R37O | R38O
| R28 R27 R26 R25 R24 R23 R22 R21 R20 R19
R9 R10 R11 R12 R13 R14 R15 R16 R17 R18
R8 R7 R6 R5 R4 R3 R2 R1
Key:
D Democratic
P Progressive
R Republican
 
Incumbent re-elected or appointee elected to finish term
O Party hold: New senator elected from same party
+ Party gain: New senator elected from different party


Republican wave

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.

However, the Republicans also benefited from what today would be called "a good map," meaning that of the one-third of Senate seats up for election, the majority were held by Democrats.

Besides the Republicans being able to hold onto all of their seats, this was the party's largest senate gain since 1920.

Gains and losses

In addition to a net Republican gain by appointment before the election, the Republicans picked up twelve seats, eleven of them from Democrats, and one from Progressive Robert M. La Follette, Jr. (P-WI). This gave them a Senate majority for the first time since Hoover's administration. This election is also notable for the election of Joe McCarthy who would become famous for his investigations of communism in the 1950s.

In addition to capturing open seats in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, and New York, the Republicans defeated seven Democratic incumbents:

Complete list of races

State Incumbent Party Result Opposing Candidates
Alabama
Special: Class 2
George R. Swift Democratic Appointee retired when successor elected to finish term
Democratic hold
John Sparkman (Democratic) unopposed
Arizona Ernest W. McFarland Democratic Re-elected Ernest W. McFarland (Democratic) 69.2%
Ward S. Powers (Republican) 30.1%
California William F. Knowland Republican Re-elected William F. Knowland (Republican) 54.1%
Will Rogers, Jr. (Democratic) 44.2%
Connecticut Thomas C. Hart Republican Retired
Republican hold
Raymond E. Baldwin (Republican) 56.1%
Joseph M. Tone (Democratic) 40.7%
Delaware James M. Tunnell Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
John J. Williams (Republican) 55.2%
James M. Tunnell (Democratic) 44.9%
Florida Spessard Holland Democratic Re-elected Spessard Holland (Democratic) 78.7%
J. Harry Schad (Republican) 21.4%
Idaho
Special: Class 2
Charles C. Gossett Democratic Appointee lost nomination to finish term
Republican gain
Henry C. Dworshak (Republican) 58.6%
George E. Donart (Democratic) 41.4%
Indiana Raymond E. Willis Republican Retired
Republican hold
William E. Jenner (Republican) 52.4%
M. Clifford Townsend (Democratic) 46.8%
Kentucky
Special: Class 2
William A. Stanfill Republican Appointee retired when successor elected to finish term
Republican hold
John S. Cooper (Republican) 53.3%
John Y. Brown (Democratic) 46.5%
Maine Ralph O. Brewster Republican Re-elected Ralph O. Brewster (Republican) 63.6%
Peter M. MacDonald (Democratic) 36.5%
Maryland George L. P. Radcliffe Democratic Lost renomination
Democratic hold
Herbert R. O'Conor (Democratic) 50.2%
David J. Markey (Republican) 49.8%
Massachusetts David I. Walsh Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (Republican) 59.6%
David I. Walsh (Democratic) 39.7%
Michigan Arthur H. Vandenberg Republican Re-elected Arthur H. Vandenberg (Republican) 67.1%
James H. Lee (Democratic) 32.0%
Minnesota Henrik Shipstead Republican Lost renomination
Republican hold
Edward John Thye (Republican) 58.9%
Theodore Jorgenson (Democratic) 39.8%
Mississippi Theodore G. Bilbo Democratic Re-elected Theodore G. Bilbo (Democratic) unopposed
Missouri Frank P. Briggs Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
James P. Kem (Republican) 52.7%
Frank P. Briggs (Democratic) 47.1%
Montana Burton K. Wheeler Democratic Lost renomination
Republican gain
Zales N. Ecton (Republican) 53.5%
Leif Erickson (Democratic) 45.4%
Nebraska Hugh Butler Republican Re-elected Hugh Butler (Republican) 70.8%
John E. Mekota (Democratic) 29.2%
Nevada Edward P. Carville Democratic Lost renomination
Republican gain
George W. Malone (Republican) 55.2%
Berkeley L. Bunker (Democratic) 44.8%
New Jersey H. Alexander Smith Republican Re-elected H. Alexander Smith (Republican) 58.5%
George E. Brunner (Democratic) 40.1%
New Mexico Dennis Chavez Democratic Re-elected Dennis Chavez (Democratic) 51.5%
Patrick J. Hurley (Republican) 48.5%
New York James M. Mead Democratic Retired
Republican gain
Irving M. Ives (Republican) 52.6%
Herbert H. Lehman (Democratic) 47.6%
North Dakota William Langer Republican Re-elected William Langer (Republican) 53.3%
Arthur E. Thompson (Independent) 23.5%
Abner B. Larson (Democratic) 23.2%
North Dakota
Special: Class 3
Milton R. Young Republican Appointee elected to finish term Milton R. Young (Republican) 55.5%
William Lanier (Democratic) 27.4%
Gerald P. Nye (Independent) 15.2%
Ohio James W. Huffman Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
John W. Bricker (Republican) 57.0%
James W. Huffman (Democratic) 42.4%
Pennsylvania Joseph F. Guffey Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
Edward Martin (Republican) 59.3%
Joseph F. Guffey (Democratic) 39.8%
Rhode Island Peter G. Gerry Democratic Retired
Democratic hold
J. Howard McGrath (Democratic) 55.1%
W. Gurnee Dwyer (Republican) 44.9%
Tennessee Kenneth D. McKellar Democratic Re-elected Kenneth D. McKellar (Democratic) 66.6%
W. B. Ladd (Republican) 26.2%
Texas Tom Connally Democratic Re-elected Kenneth D. McKellar (Democratic) 88.5%
Murray C. Sells (Republican) 11.5%
Utah Abe Murdock Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
Arthur V. Watkins (Republican) 51.2%
Abe Murdock (Democratic) 48.8%
Vermont Warren R. Austin Republican Retired
Republican hold
Ralph E. Flanders (Republican) 74.6%
Charles P. McDevitt (Democratic) 25.4%
Virginia Harry F. Byrd Democratic Re-elected Harry F. Byrd (Democratic) 64.9%
Lester S. Parsons (Republican) 30.5%
Virginia
Special: Class 2
Thomas G. Burch Democratic Appointee retired when successor elected to finish term
Democratic hold
A. Willis Robertson (Democratic) 68.2%
Robert H. Woods (Republican) 29.0%
Washington Hugh B. Mitchell Democratic Lost re-election
Republican gain
Harry P. Cain (Republican) 54.3%
Hugh B. Mitchell (Democratic) 45.2%
West Virginia Harley M. Kilgore Democratic Re-elected Harley M. Kilgore (Democratic) 50.3%
Thomas Sweeney (Republican) 49.7%
Wisconsin Robert M. La Follette, Jr. Progressive Lost renomination as a Republican
Republican gain
Joseph R. McCarthy (Republican) 61.3%
Howard J. McMurray (Democratic) 37.4%
Edwin Knappe (Socialist) 1.2%
Wyoming Joseph C. O'Mahoney Democratic Re-elected Joseph C. O'Mahoney (Democratic) 56.2%
Harry B. Henderson (Republican) 43.8%

See also

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