- The term can also refer to the 1911 Xinhai Revolution that led to the establishment of the Republic of China.
The Republican Revolution, Revolution of '94 or Gingrich Revolution is what the media dubbed the Republican Party (GOP) success in the 1994 U.S. midterm elections, which resulted in a net gain of 54 seats in the House of Representatives, and a pickup of eight seats in the Senate.
The clear leader of the so-called revolution was Republican congressman Newt Gingrich, who became Speaker of the House as a result of the victory. The Republicans alleged Clinton was not the New Democrat he claimed he was during his 1992 campaign and was a liberal. Offering an alternative to Clinton's policies Gingrich and other Republicans encouraged voters to rally behind the proposed Contract with America. The day after the election, Democratic Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama changed parties, becoming a Republican.
The gains in seats in the mid-term election resulted in the Republicans gaining control of both the House and the Senate in January 1995. Republicans had not held the majority in the House for forty years, since the 83rd Congress (elected in 1952).
Large Republican gains were made in state houses as well when the GOP picked up twelve gubernatorial seats and 472 legislative seats. In so doing, it took control of 20 state legislatures from the Democrats. Prior to this, Republicans had not held the majority of governorships since 1972. In addition, this was the first time in 50 years that the GOP controlled a majority of state legislatures.
Discontent against the Democrats was foreshadowed by a string of elections after 1992, including the capture of the mayoralties of New York and Los Angeles by the Republicans in 1993. In that same year, Christine Todd Whitman captured the New Jersey governorship from the Democrats and Bret Schundler became the first Republican mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey that had been held by the Democratic Party since 1917.
Republican George Allen won the 1993 Virginia Governor election. Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison took a U.S. Senate seat from the Democrats in the 1993 special election. Republicans Frank Lucas and Ron Lewis picked up two congressional seats from Democrats in Oklahoma and Kentucky in May 1994.
When the 104th United States Congress convened in January 1995, House Republicans voted former Minority Whip Newt Gingrich – the chief author of the Contract with America – to become Speaker of the House, while the new senatorial Republican majority chose Bob Dole, previously Minority Leader, as Majority Leader. With their newfound power, Republicans pursued an ambitious agenda but were often forced to compromise with Democratic President Bill Clinton, who wielded veto power.
The 1994 election also marked the end of the Conservative Coalition, a bipartisan coalition of conservative Republicans and Democrats (often referred to as "boll weevil Democrats" for their association with the U.S. South), which had often managed to control Congressional outcomes since the New Deal era.
In the 1996, 1998, and 2000 elections, Republicans lost Congressional seats but still retained control of the House and, more narrowly, the Senate. After the 2000 election, the Senate was divided evenly between the parties, with Republicans retaining the right to organize the Senate due to the election of Dick Cheney as Vice President and ex officio presiding officer of the Senate.
The Senate shifted to control by the Democrats (though they technically were the plurality party as they were one short of a majority) after GOP senator Jim Jeffords changed party registration to "Independent" in June 2001, but later returned to Republican control after the November 2002 elections. In the 2006 elections, Democrats won both the House of Representatives (233 Democrats, 202 Republicans) and the Senate (49 Democrats, 49 Republicans, and 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats) as well as the majority of state governorships (28-22).
In what was reminiscent of the 1994 elections, Republicans won back control of the House in the 2010 elections. The Senate however remained with the Democrats (51 Democrats, 47 Republicans, and 2 Independents caucusing with the Democrats). Republicans also won a majority of state governorships and State Legislatures. The congressional elections of 2012 brought no change of control in either the House or Senate.
The 1994 elections ushered in a great number of Republican freshmen. For example, of the 230 Republican House members of the 104th Congress, almost a third (73.32%) were new to the House. In the Senate, 11 of 54 (20%) Republicans were freshmen.
|Jon Kyl||Arizona||Dennis DeConcini||Retired|
|Olympia Snowe||Maine||George Mitchell||Retired|
|Spencer Abraham||Michigan||Don Riegle||Retired|
|Mike DeWine||Ohio||Howard Metzenbaum||Retired|
|Jim Inhofe||Oklahoma||David Boren||Retired*|
|Rick Santorum||Pennsylvania||Harris Wofford||Defeated|
|Fred Thompson||Tennessee||Harlan Mathews||Retired§|
|Bill Frist||Tennessee||Jim Sasser||Defeated|
(*) David Boren resigned to assume the presidency of the University of Oklahoma; Inhofe was elected to serve the remaining two years of the term.
House of Representatives
|Fob James||Alabama||Jim Folsom, Jr.||Defeated|
|John Rowland||Connecticut||Lowell Weicker*||Retired|
|Phil Batt||Idaho||Cecil Andrus||Term limited|
|Bill Graves||Kansas||Joan Finney||Retired|
|Gary Johnson||New Mexico||Bruce King||Defeated|
|George Pataki||New York||Mario Cuomo||Defeated|
|Frank Keating||Oklahoma||David Walters||Retired|
|Tom Ridge||Pennsylvania||Bob Casey||Term limited|
|Lincoln Almond||Rhode Island||Bruce Sundlun||Defeated (in primary)|
|Don Sundquist||Tennessee||Ned McWherter||Term limited|
|George W. Bush||Texas||Ann Richards||Defeated|
|Jim Geringer||Wyoming||Mike Sullivan||Term limited|
(*) Lowell Weicker was a member of A Connecticut Party.
- Republican Revolution Fades USA Today, January 19 2003
- Amer, Mildred (2005-06-16). "Freshmen in the House of Representatives and Senate by Political Party: 1913-2005". CRS Report for Congress (The Library of Congress): 1–6. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
- Booknotes interview with Dan Balz on Storming the Gates: Protest Politics and the Republican Revival, February 18, 1996.