United States Senate elections, 1938

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United States Senate elections, 1938
United States
← 1936 / 1937 November 8, 1938 1940 / 1941 →

32 of the 96 seats in the United States Senate
49 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
  AlbenBarkley.jpg Charles mcnary.jpg
Leader Alben Barkley Charles McNary
Party Democratic Republican
Leader's seat Kentucky Oregon
Seats before 75 17
Seats won 22 10
Seats after 68 23
Seat change Decrease 7 Increase 7
Seats up 29 3
Races won 22 10

  Third party Fourth party
 
Party Farmer–Labor Progressive
Seats before 2 1
Seats won 0 0
Seats after 2 1
Seat change Steady Steady
Seats up 0 0
Races won 0 0

  Fifth party
 
Party Independent
Seats before 1
Seats won 0
Seats after 1
Seat change Steady
Seats up 0
Races won 0

US 1938 senate election map.svg
Results including special elections
     Democratic gain      Democratic hold
     Republican gain      Republican hold

Majority Leader before election

Alben Barkley
Democratic

Elected Majority Leader

Alben Barkley
Democratic

The United States Senate elections of 1938 occurred in the middle of Franklin D. Roosevelt's second term. This occurred six years after the Democratic landslide in the 1932 election, and so the opposition Republicans gained seven seats from the Democrats. However, the Democrats retained a commanding lead over the Republicans with more than two-thirds of the chamber.

Background[edit]

A contemporary account [1] cited a number of reasons for the losses suffered by the Democrats. The first was the Recession of 1937, which had continued into the first half of 1938, and which had arguably weakened public confidence in the administration's New Deal economic policies. Controversy over the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 (Roosevelt's "court-packing" plan) was also a major factor. There were, in addition, strains between the more liberal New Deal supporters and the conservative wing of the Democratic party centered in the Southern states. These strains were exacerbated by an effort led by President Roosevelt to target certain conservative senators for defeat in Democratic primaries, including Walter George of Georgia, Millard Tydings of Maryland and Ellison Smith of South Carolina, along with the chairman of the House Rules Committee, John J. O'Connor of New York. While a number of New Deal supporters won primary elections, such as Sen. Alben Barkley in Kentucky, who defeated future baseball commissioner Happy Chandler, Sen. James P. Pope of Idaho, a prominent New Deal supporter, lost his bid for re-nomination, as did California senator William McAdoo, though McAdoo's Democratic opponent Sheridan Downey had campaigned as a liberal New Dealer who would also do more to improve pension plans.[2]

Given the high levels of Democratic success in the 1930, 1932, 1934 and 1936 elections, the Democrats were in a difficult position in defending a large number of seats, even without these pressures. Ironically, this was the first of five consecutive elections where the GOP made gains in the Senate.

Gains and losses[edit]

Overall, the Democrats lost 7 seats to Republicans

  1. Augustine Lonergan (D-CT)
  2. George McGill (D-KS), the last Democrat ever elected to the Senate from Kansas
  3. Fred H. Brown (D-NH)
  4. John Gerald Milton (D-NJ) had been appointed to replace A. Harry Moore (D), who resigned. Milton did not run in the special election to finish the current term (ending in 1941).
  5. Robert J. Bulkley (D-OH)
  6. Herbert Hitchcock (D-SD) had been appointed to replace Peter Norbeck (R), who died. Hitchock lost the Democratic primary both to finish the current term (ending in 1939) and for the new term (ending in 1945).
  7. F. Ryan Duffy (D-WI)

Change in Senate composition[edit]

Before the general elections[edit]

After the February 1, 1938 appointment in Oregon.

  D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8
D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11 D10 D9
D19 D20 D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28
D38 D37 D36 D35 D34 D33 D32 D31 D30 D29
D39 D40 D41 D42 D43 D44 D45 D46 D47 D48
Majority → D49
Ran
D58
Ran
D57
Ran
D56
Ran
D55
Ran
D54
Ran
D53
Ran
D52
Ran
D51
Retired
D50
Retired
D59
Ran
D60
Ran
D61
Ran
D62
Ran
D63
Ran
D64
Ran
D65
Ran
D66
Ran
D67
Ran
D68
Ran
I1 D77
Ran
D76
Ran
D75
Ran
D74
Ran
D73
Ran
D72
Ran
D71
Ran
D70
Ran
D69
Ran
P1 FL2 FL1 R15
Ran
R14
Ran
R13
Ran
R12 R11 R10 R9
R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8

General election results[edit]

  D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8
D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11 D10 D9
D19 D20 D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28
D38 D37 D36 D35 D34 D33 D32 D31 D30 D29
D39 D40 D41 D42 D43 D44 D45 D46 D47 D48
Majority → D49
Re-elected
D58
Re-elected
D57
Hold
D56
Re-elected
D55
Re-elected
D54
Re-elected
D53
Re-elected
D52
Hold
D51
Re-elected
D50
Re-elected
D59
Re-elected
D60
Re-elected
D61
Re-elected
D62
Re-elected
D63
Re-elected
D64
Re-elected
D65
Re-elected
D66
Re-elected
D67
Re-elected
D68
Hold
R19
Gain
R20
Gain
R21
Gain
R22
Gain
P1 FL1 FL2 I1 D70
Re-elected
D69
Re-elected
R18
Gain
R17
Gain
R16
Gain
R15
Re-elected
R14
Re-elected
R13
Re-elected
R12 R11 R10 R9
R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8

Special election results[edit]

  D1 D2 D3 D4 D5 D6 D7 D8
D18 D17 D16 D15 D14 D13 D12 D11 D10 D9
D19 D20 D21 D22 D23 D24 D25 D26 D27 D28
D38 D37 D36 D35 D34 D33 D32 D31 D30 D29
D39 D40 D41 D42 D43 D44 D45 D49 D46
Hold
D47
Hold
Majority → D45
Appointee elected
D58 D57 D56 D55 D54 D53 D52 D51 D50
D59 D60 D61 D62 D63 D64 D65 D66 D67 D68
R19 R20 R21
Gain
R22
Gain
R23
Gain
P1 FL1 FL2 I1 D69
R18 R17 R16 R15 R14 R13 R12 R11 R10 R9
R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8
Key:
D# Democratic
FL# Farmer-Labor
P# Progressive
R# Republican
I# Independent
V# Vacant

Race summaries[edit]

Special elections during the 75th Congress[edit]

In these special elections, the winner was seated during 1938 or before January 3, 1939; ordered by election date.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral history
Alabama
(Class 2)
J. Lister Hill Democratic 1938 (Appointed) Interim appointee elected April 26, 1938. J. Lister Hill (Democratic)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
New Jersey
(Class 1)
John G. Milton Democratic 1938 (Appointed) Interim appointee retired.
Winner elected November 8, 1938.
Republican gain.
W. Warren Barbour (Republican) 53.0%
William H. J. Ely (Democratic) 45.7%
New York
(Class 1)
Royal S. Copeland Democratic 1922
1928
1934
Incumbent died June 17, 1938.
Winner elected November 8, 1938.
Democratic hold.
James M. Mead (Democratic) 53.6%
Edward F. Corsi (Republican) 45.8%
Oregon
(Class 3)
Alfred E. Reames Democratic 1938 (Appointed) Interim appointee retired.
Winner elected November 8, 1938.
Republican gain.
Winner also elected to next term, see below.
Alexander G. Barry (Republican)
[Data unknown/missing. You can help!]
South Dakota
(Class 3)
Herbert E. Hitchcock Democratic 1936 (Appointed) Interim appointee lost nomination to finish the term.
Winner elected November 8, 1938.
Republican gain.
Winner did not run for the next term, however, see below.
Gladys Pyle (Republican) 58.1%
John T. McCullen (Democratic) 41.9%
Tennessee
(Class 1)
George L. Berry Democratic 1937 (Appointed) Interim appointee lost nomination to finish the term.
Winner elected November 8, 1938.
Democratic hold.
Tom Stewart (Democratic)[3] 70.5%
Harley G. Fowler (Republican) 26.2%

Races leading to the 76th Congress[edit]

In these general elections, the winners were elected for the term beginning January 3, 1939; ordered by state.

All of the elections involved the Class 3 seats.

State Incumbent Results Candidates
Senator Party Electoral
history
Alabama J. Lister Hill Democratic 1938 (Appointed)
1938 (Special)
Incumbent re-elected. J. Lister Hill (Democratic) 86.4%
J. M. Pennington (Republican) 13.6%
Arizona Carl Hayden Democratic 1926
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Carl Hayden (Democratic) 76.5%
B. H. Clingan (Republican) 23.5%
Arkansas Hattie W. Caraway Democratic 1931 (Appointed)
1932 (Special)
Incumbent re-elected. Hattie W. Caraway (Democratic) 89.6%
C. D. Atkinson (Republican) 10.4%
California William G. McAdoo Democratic 1932 Incumbent lost renomination.
New senator elected.
Democratic hold.
Incumbent then resigned and Thomas M. Storke (D) was appointed to finish the term.
Sheridan Downey (Democratic) 54.4%
Philip Bancroft (Republican) 44.7%
Lillain Symes Clements (Socialist) 0.9%
Colorado Alva B. Adams Democratic 1923 (Appointed)
1924 (Retired)
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Alva B. Adams (Democratic) 58.2%
Archibald A. Lee (Republican) 40.2%
Connecticut Augustine Lonergan Democratic 1932 Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
John A. Danaher (Republican) 42.9%
Augustine Lonergan (Democratic) 40.0%
Bellani Trombley (Socialist) 15.8%
Florida Claude Pepper Democratic 1936 (Special) Incumbent re-elected. Claude Pepper (Democratic) 82.5%
Thomas E. Swanson (Republican) 17.6%
Georgia Walter F. George Democratic 1922 (Special)
1926
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Walter F. George (Democratic)
Unopposed
Idaho James P. Pope Democratic 1932 Incumbent lost renomination.
New senator elected.
Democratic hold.
D. Worth Clark (Democratic) 54.7%
Donald A. Callahan (Republican) 44.9%
Illinois William H. Dieterich Democratic 1932 Incumbent retired.
New senator elected.
Democratic hold.
Scott W. Lucas (Democratic) 51.3%
Richard J. Lyons (Republican) 48.3%
Indiana Frederick Van Nuys Democratic 1932 Incumbent re-elected. Frederick Van Nuys (Democratic) 49.8%
Raymond E. Willis (Republican) 49.5%
Herman L. Seeger (Prohibition) 0.4%
Louis E. Roebuck (Socialist) 0.1%
Miles Blansett (Communist) 0.1%
Iowa Guy M. Gillette Democratic 1936 (Special) Incumbent re-elected. Guy M. Gillette (Democratic) 49.7%
Lester J. Dickinson (Republican) 49.4%
Kansas George McGill Democratic 1930 (Special)
1932
Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
Clyde M. Reed (Republican) 56.2%
George McGill (Democratic) 43.8%
Kentucky Alben W. Barkley Democratic 1926
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Alben W. Barkley (Democratic) 62.0%
John P. Haswell (Republican) 38.0%
Louisiana John H. Overton Democratic 1932 Incumbent re-elected. John H. Overton (Democratic)
Unopposed.
Maryland Millard E. Tydings Democratic 1926
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Millard E. Tydings (Democratic) 68.3%
Oscar Lesser (Republican) 29.3%
Missouri Bennett Champ Clark Democratic 1932
1933 (Appointed)
Incumbent re-elected. Bennett Champ Clark (Democratic) 60.7%
Harry S. Caulfield (Republican) 39.2%
Nevada Patrick A. McCarran Democratic 1932 Incumbent re-elected. Patrick A. McCarran (Democratic) 59.0%
Tasker L. Oddie (Republican) 41.0%
New Hampshire Fred H. Brown Democratic 1932 Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
Charles W. Tobey (Republican) 54.2%
Fred H. Brown (Democratic) 45.8%
New York Robert F. Wagner Democratic 1926
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Robert F. Wagner (Democratic) 54.5%
John Lord O'Brian (Republican) 45.0%
North Carolina Robert R. Reynolds Democratic 1932 (Special)
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Robert R. Reynolds (Democratic) 63.8%
Charles A. Jonas (Republican) 36.2%
North Dakota Gerald P. Nye Republican 1925 (Appointed)
1926 (Special)
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Gerald P. Nye (Republican) 50.1%
William Langer (Independent) 42.6%
J. J. Nygard (Democratic) 7.3%
Ohio Robert J. Bulkley Democratic 1930 (Special)
1932
Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
Robert A. Taft (Republican) 53.6%
Robert J. Bulkley (Democratic) 46.4%
Oklahoma Elmer Thomas Democratic 1926
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Elmer Thomas (Democratic) 65.4%
Harry G. Glasser (Republican) 33.9%
Oregon Alfred E. Reames Democratic 1938 (Appointed) Interim appointee retired.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
Winner also elected to finish term, see above.
Rufus C. Holman (Republican) 54.9%
Willis Mahoney (Democratic) 45.1%
Pennsylvania James J. Davis Republican 1930 (Special)
1932
Incumbent re-elected. James J. Davis (Republican) 54.7%
George H. Earle (Democratic) 44.4%
South Carolina Ellison D. Smith Democratic 1909
1914
1920
1926
1932
Incumbent re-elected. Ellison D. Smith (Democratic)
Unopposed
South Dakota Herbert E. Hitchcock Democratic 1936 (Appointed) Interim appointee lost nomination to next term.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
Chandler Gurney (Republican) 52.5%
Tom Berry (Democratic) 47.5%
Utah Elbert D. Thomas Democratic 1932 Incumbent re-elected. Elbert D. Thomas (Democratic) 55.8%
Franklin S. Harris (Republican) 44.2%
Vermont Ernest W. Gibson Republican 1933 (Appointed)
1934 (Special)
Incumbent re-elected. Ernest W. Gibson (Republican) 65.7%
John McGrath (Democratic) 34.3%
Washington Homer T. Bone Democratic 1932 Incumbent re-elected. Homer T. Bone (Democratic) 62.6%
Ewing D. Colvin (Republican) 37.1%
Eugene Solie (Socialist Labor) 0.3%
Wisconsin F. Ryan Duffy Democratic 1932 Incumbent lost re-election.
New senator elected.
Republican gain.
Alexander Wiley (Republican) 47.7%
Herman L. Ekern (Progressive) 26.6%
F. Ryan Duffy (Democratic) 24.7%

Elections during the 76th Congress[edit]

There were no elections in 1939.

Further reading[edit]

  • Dunn, Susan. Roosevelt's Purge: How FDR Fought to Change the Democratic Party (2010) excerpt and text search
  • Hixson, Walter L. "The 1938 Kentucky Senate Election: Alben W. Barkley, "Happy" Chandler, and The New Deal." Register of the Kentucky Historical Society (1982): 309-329. in JSTOR
  • Plesur, Milton. "The Republican Congressional Comeback of 1938", Review of Politics Vol. 24, No. 4 (October 1962), pp. 525–562 in JSTOR

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 1939 Britannica Book of the Year, "Democratic Party", pages 205-6
  2. ^ LIFE. Time Inc. p. 13. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ Won special election in November 1938, but remained district attorney general until January 16, 1939, after the next Congress began.