Last modified on September 24, 2019, at 12:02

Republican Revolution (1994)

Newt Gingrich, the most important figure behind the 1994 Republican Revolution

The Republican Revolution of 1994 refers to the massive gains the Republican Party experienced in the 1994 midterm elections. The party took the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate for the first time in 40 years. It is also referred to by some as the Gingrich Revolution.[1][2][3][4]


Leftist Democrat Bill Clinton was elected U.S. president in 1992, defeating George H. W. Bush. After he took office, Democrats held a national trifecta. They passed or attempted to pass left-wing legislation, including raising taxes, passing NAFTA, enacting gun control, and unsuccessfully attempting to pass left-wing healthcare laws.[5] Arguably, the most unpopular of these actions was the assault weapon ban.[5]

U.S. Representative Newt Gingrich, who was rising in the Republican Party, played a leading role in drafting the Contract with America, a 10-point list of conservative policies that the GOP promised to pass if elected into power.[6][7]

Numerous voters strongly disapproved of the leftist Democrat policies and Democrat corruption, and thus chose to vote Republican.[8]

The election

The Republican Party won the 1994 midterm elections in a landslide. The GOP retook the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years.[9] In the House, the GOP gained a massive 54 seats.[8] In addition to the House and Senate, the GOP gained a large amount of state governorships.[9]

34 Democrat incumbents were defeated in the election, including House Speaker Tom Foley.[8] Not a single Republican incumbent,[8] either in the House, Senate, or state governorships, was defeated.[9]

Evangelical Christians played an important part in the election. They greatly increased their share of the electorate—27 percent in 1994, according to one estimate, compared to just 18 percent in 1988.[8] Additionally, 76 percent of evangelical Christians voted for the Republican House candidate over the Democrat.[8]


After the election, Gingrich became Speaker of the House.[7][8] In the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, House Republicans passed every bill promised in the Contract with America, with the exception of a constitutional amendment instituting term limits on Congress.[7][8]

Conservative Republicans also successfully enacted several pieces of legislation, including welfare reform, a balanced budget, and a capital gains tax cut.[6] The freshman Republican class in Congress was described as "consequential."[10]

During the 104th Congress in 1995 and 1996, several conservative Democrat Representatives switched party affiliations to the Republicans, who represented their views dramatically more.

President Clinton recognized the ramifications of the major GOP victory by stating in his 1996 State of the Union Address that "the era of big government is over."[11] However, this statement turned out to be false, as could be seen in the later years of Clinton's presidency as well as the succeeding presidents,[12] including Barack Obama.


The 1994 Republican Revolution exposes the left-wing policies of Bill Clinton. While some people view Clinton as a moderate, the actions he took as president clearly show otherwise. He supported the leftist Democrat agenda prior to the midterm elections. Even after Republicans took the House and Senate, he strongly opposed most GOP legislation, and only signed welfare reform after two vetoes.[6] In fact, Clinton is likely only remembered as a moderate because of the fact that he had to deal with Republican congressional majorities for six years, something which prevented his left-wing agenda from being enacted.

Other "Republican Revolutions"

The 2010 Midterm Election was very similar to the 1994 Republican Revolution. The American people were fed up with leftist, big government Democrat policies and voted for the GOP in a landslide. In that election, the GOP won even more house seats—63—than in 1994, gained some Senate seats (but not enough for form a majority), and made massive gains in governorships and state legislatures.

The Republican Party won record gains in the 2014 elections, gaining a greater number of Senate seats than it had in 1994 and winning a record amount of seats in the House, and 2016 elections, where the GOP gained a national trifecta and won the presidency under Donald Trump.


  1. Gingrich Lost and Found, Hoover Institute
  2. The Oxford Handbook of Legislative Studies
  3. Citizen Newt: The Rise, Fall, and Future of Speaker Gingrich
  4. The Enduring Revolution: How the Contract with America Continues to Shape the Nation
  5. 5.0 5.1 Fox, Lauren (January 17, 2013). Gun Control Laws Weren't Primary Reason Dems Lost in 1994. U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Newt Gingrich Biography. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 The Republican Revolution - This Day in History. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 8.6 8.7 Glass, Andrew (November 8, 2007). Congress runs into 'Republican Revolution' Nov. 8, 1994. Politico. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Clymer, Adam (November 10, 1994). The 1994 Elections: Congress The Overview; G.O.P. Celebrates Its Sweek To Power; Clinton Vows To Find Common Ground. The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  10. Wilson, Reid (September 24, 2019). Consequential GOP class of 1994 all but disappears. The Hill. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  11. William J. Clinton: Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union. The American Presidency Project. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  12. Moore, Stephen (February 7, 2000). Clinton and Gore Reinvent Big Government. The Cato Institute (originally in The Washington Times). Retrieved February 25, 2017.

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