Noah M. Weiss

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20082009 Forum on Change

Noah M. Weiss


College '09

"A campaign promise is one thing, a signed pledge is quite another": A Political History of the 1994 Republican Revolution

January 4, 1995, signaled a momentous change in American politics as Rep. Richard Gephardt (D-MO) handed the gavel of the House of Representatives to the newly elected Speaker of the House, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA). For the first time in four decades, Republicans constituted a majority of the House. This research will examine the 1994 U.S. midterm elections, the so-called Republican Revolution, in which 54 seats changed hands. Was the Republican landslide truly a revolution? And, was it fundamentally a triumph of ideas or of partisan politics? To answer these questions, I will examine Republican strategy, the formulation of the “Contract with America,” the Democratic Party’s response, the Contract’s legislative implementation, and finally the stalling of the Revolution with the government shutdowns of 1995–1996.