1946 United States House of Representatives elections

← 1944 November 5, 1946[a] 1948 →

All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
218 seats needed for a majority
  Majority party Minority party
  SPEAKER JWMartin.jpg Rayburn-Sam-LOC.jpg
Leader Joseph Martin Sam Rayburn
Party Republican Democratic
Leader since January 3, 1939 January 3, 1937
Leader's seat Massachusetts 14th Texas 4th
Last election 191 seats 242 seats
Seats won 246 188
Seat change Increase 55 Decrease 54
Popular vote 18,422,363 15,491,113
Percentage 53.5% 45.0%
Swing Increase 6.4% Decrease 6.8%

  Third party Fourth party
 
Party American Labor Progressive
Last election 1 seat 1 seats
Seats won 1 0
Seat change Steady Decrease 1
Popular vote 196,866 44,930
Percentage 0.6% 0.1%
Swing Increase 0.3%

Speaker before election

Sam Rayburn
Democratic

Elected Speaker

Joseph Martin
Republican

Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 80th United States Congress took place in 1946. These midterm elections occurred 19 months after President Harry S. Truman assumed office upon the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Truman was Vice President under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and was thrust into the presidency following Roosevelt's death. Truman did not garner the same support as the deceased president. Democrats had controlled Congress since 1931, for 16 years, and Roosevelt had been elected to a record four terms in office. The 1946 election resulted in Republicans picking up 55 seats to win majority control. Joseph William Martin, Jr., Republican of Massachusetts, became Speaker of the House, exchanging places with Sam Rayburn, Democrat of Texas, who became the new Minority Leader. The Democratic defeat was the largest since they were trounced in the 1928 pro-Republican wave that brought Herbert Hoover to power.

The vote was largely seen as a referendum on Truman, whose approval rating had sunk to 32 percent[1] over the president's controversial handling of a wave of post-war labor strikes, including a United Auto Workers strike against Ford and General Motors in 1945, a United Mine Workers strike starting in April 1946, and a national railroad worker strike that began in May. Further damage resulted from 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 Republican majority was short-lived however, with Democrats winning control of the House two years later.

Overall results

246 1 188
Republican AL Democratic
Party Total
seats
Change Seat
percentage
Popular
vote
Vote
percentage
Republican Party 246 Increase 55 56.5% 18,422,363 53.5%
Democratic Party 188 Decrease 54 43.2% 15,491,113 45.0%
American Labor Party 1 Steady 0.2% 196,866 0.6%
Independent 0 Steady 0.0% 77,425 0.2%
Liberal Party 0 Steady 0.0% 61,111 0.2%
Prohibition Party 0 Steady 0.0% 47,792 0.1%
Socialist Party 0 Steady 0.0% 38,307 0.1%
J. Veterans Party 0 Steady 0.0% 9,791 <0.1%
U. Citizens Party 0 Steady 0.0% 5,688 <0.1%
Communist Party 0 Steady 0.0% 3,408 <0.1%
Independent Voters Party 0 Steady 0.0% 2,834 <0.1%
Veterans' Victory Party 0 Steady 0.0% 2,208 <0.1%
Socialist Workers Party 0 Steady 0.0% 1,936 <0.1%
Justice, Decency, Independence Party 0 Steady 0.0% 1,865 <0.1%
Socialist Labor Party 0 Steady 0.0% 980 <0.1%
Constitutional Government Party 0 Steady 0.0% 890 <0.1%
No Foreign Loans Party