After both Democratic candidates have been projected as winners in Georgia’s Senate runoff election, the party has regained control of the upper chamber in U.S. Congress. Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock will raise the number of Democratic senators in the 117th Congress to 50, which will revert the tiebreaking vote to Democratic Vice President Kamala Harris. The development means that after one term of split chambers, a single party will once again control Congress. Historically, this has more often been the case, as our chart shows. Since 1900, there have only been eight two-year terms of split chambers.
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More common historically is a president going up against a Congress controlled entirely by the rival party. In the same time frame, this has been the case in 17 terms. Richard Nixon and later Gerald Ford went up against a Democratically controlled Congress for eight years. The chambers also flipped all Democratic in the final two years of the Reagan administration and stayed that way during the successive four years George H. W. Bush governed the country. Bill Clinton spent six out of eight years in office with a Congress that was controlled by Republicans, while George W. Bush and Barack Obama spent only one term each in this scenario.
When Joe Biden starts his term later this month, the Democratic Party will control both Congress and the White House. What might feel lucky has actually been the case for every first-term president since Clinton in 1993. All in all, Democrats have been in control of the House as well as the Senate more than Republicans since 1900, while time in the White House has been almost evenly split between the two parties in the past 120 years.
This chart shows which party held the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate upon election from 1900 to 2020.
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