Coulter misstated midterm election history, declared Democrats will "go away as a party" if they don't achieve what would be historic gains in House

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On Fox News, Ann Coulter asserted that Democrats "ought to be picking up 60 or 70 seats" in the House of Representatives in this November's midterm elections or "they may as well go away as a party." Coulter based her assertion about Democratic gains on her false claim that "[t]he average of the midterm election pickup since World War II is about 40 seats." In fact, since World War II, the average gain in the House after a midterm election has been about 25 seats.

On the October 25 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter asserted that Democrats "ought to be picking up 60 or 70 seats" in the House of Representatives in this November's midterm elections or "they may as well go away as a party." Coulter based her assertion about Democratic gains on her false claim that "[t]he average of the midterm election pickup since World War II is about 40 seats," and claimed that because Democrats "lost seats in Bush's first midterm election," they "ought to be picking up 60 or 70" seats in the House, given what she said was the average. In fact, the average gain in the House for any party after a post-World War II midterm election is about 25 seats. Moreover, no party has gained "60 or 70" seats in any midterm election since World War II. With the exception of the 1994 election, neither party has gained more than 10 House seats in a midterm election since 1982, and the last time either party gained more than 40 seats in a midterm election was in 1974.

Coulter's appearance on the October 25 edition of The Big Story marks at least the fourth time since early August that she has appeared on Fox News making bold predictions that the Democrats will retake the House because of "historical precedent." Despite these claims, on the October 11 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Coulter said of the upcoming midterms: "I don't have a prediction."

Below is a chart illustrating the number of House seats gained (and by which party) in each midterm election since the end of World War II. According to data from the website of the Office of the Clerk for the U.S. House of Representatives, the average gain of House seats in a midterm election since World War II has been 25.47, not 40, as Coulter claimed:

Year

Seat gains

Party

1946

55

Republicans

1950

28

Republicans

1954

19

Democrats

1958

49

Democrats

1962

2

Republicans

1966

47

Republicans

1970

12

Democrats

1974

49

Democrats

1978

15

Republicans

1982

27

Democrats

1986

5

Democrats

1990

7

Democrats

1994

54

Republicans

1998

5

Democrats

2002

8

Republicans

Average gain:

25.47

Despite Coulter's October 11 remark that "I don't have a prediction" on the outcome of the 2006 elections, Coulter also predicted a 60-seat Democratic gain in the House during an October 3 Fox News appearance and cited "historical precedent" to predict the outcome of the elections on August 9 and 31 appearances:

  • On the October 3 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, Coulter asserted that "[t]he party out of power is supposed to be picking up 60 seats. This is their 1994 election" and that "this is the Democrats' year to win" because "Republicans can't keep winning everything."
  • On the August 9 edition of The Big Story with John Gibson, Coulter claimed that "unfortunately, I mean, the Republicans can't keep winning every election. The fall elections will probably be a very good year for the Democrats. They ought to be just out of historical precedent, having nothing to do with George Bush, having to do with the war in Iraq."
  • On the August 31 edition of Hannity & Colmes, Coulter said that "[t]his will be a disaster for America if the Democrats do take control of the House and the Senate. And I think just by historical precedent, it's very likely."

From the October 25 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:

JOHN GIBSON (host): Look, the election is what, whatever that number of days away, it's not very many. And here's the latest CNN/Gallup poll that -- USA Today/Gallup poll. Republicans are generally behind, and Democrats are generally ahead. Meantime, you notice a little surge in some races. What do you make of these polls? Just that it's close?

COULTER: Is this poll a generic?

GIBSON: Generally Republicans or Democrats in Congress.

COULTER: So it's not done seat by seat. I don't think that sort of poll means as much. Right?

GIBSON: It's a general view of Democrats versus Republicans.

COULTER: Right, I don't think that doesn't mean as much.

GIBSON: Why not?

COULTER: You need to do the [U.S. News & World Report senior writer] Michael Barone poll where you look at each individual race. I mean, people may say, "Because Republicans have been in office for a long time and have been winning everything" -- I mean, if the Democrats -- the point is, if the Democrats do not win 60 or 70 seats in the House, a dozen seats in the Senate, then they may as well, you know, go away as a party. This is their year. We've been winning everything. We can't keep winning everything.

The average of the midterm election pickup since World War II is about 40 seats. They lost seats in Bush's first midterm election. So they ought to be picking up 60 or 70 seats, and I don't think they will do that because Americans do think that we have to win the war in Iraq.

From the October 3 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

COULTER: Midterm election. The party out of power is supposed to be picking up 60 seats. This is their 1994 election.

[...]

COULTER: The only thing that makes me pessimistic is the fact that this is the Democrats' year to win. Republicans can't keep winning everything. We already picked up seats in the midterm election. And if Democrats take the House and the Senate --

From the August 31 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

COULTER: This will be a disaster for America if the Democrats do take control of the House and the Senate. And I think just by historical precedent, it's very likely. But people forget how bad the Democrats were, and they vote for them again. Right, Doug?

From the August 9 edition of The Big Story with John Gibson:

COULTER: And, unfortunately, I mean, the Republicans can't keep winning every election. The fall elections will probably be a very good year for the Democrats. They ought to be just out of historical precedent, having nothing to do with George Bush, having to do with the war in Iraq. We picked up an enormous number of seats in the last midterm election.

From the October 11 edition of Fox News' Hannity & Colmes:

SEAN HANNITY (co-host): Last question. Do you think -- do you have any prediction, House, Senate? Which way it goes? We're 27 days away.

COULTER: I -- it's the six-year election. Even [President Ronald] Reagan lost seats in the sixth year.

HANNITY: Prediction?

COULTER: Unfortunately, this is a very, very dangerous time for America, and I'm sorry about it.

ALAN COLMES (co-host): Good to see you conceding. By the way, Ann --

COULTER: I don't think it's going to be a good year for Republicans.

HANNITY: What's the prediction? They hold the House and the Senate, or no?

COULTER: I don't have a prediction.

Posted In
Elections
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Ann Coulter
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, The Big Story with John Gibson
Stories/Interests
2006 Elections
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