Incumbent Turnover in the House: A New Record?

I ran across this at CBS News today:

Losing 25 incumbents in a single election cycle seems like a lot to me.
Has there ever been a higher rate of retirement among congressmen?

There are also six Democrats not running for reelection, adding to your list.


I’ve found quite a few pages with titles like “Analysis of Turnover in the U.S. House of Representatives”, but the actual data is always behind a subscription wall.


I remember from a newspaper article on this a while back and not findable, that 25 is nowhere near a maximum amount.

It may be true that it is unusual for recent years, since incumbants now have a much higher percentage of re-election than ever before.

The only thing I can really find is that Wikipedia says that in 2006, there were 28 congressmen not seeking re-election for either retirement or seeking another office.

This article claims that there were 50 open House seats in 1994. I can’t independently verify that without doing some serious work.

This is purely my opinion as a frequent Congress-watcher: the number of open seats leading into 2008 may be a bit higher than normal, but it’s really not anything historic.

So the numbers are high this year, but not yet a record.

Just as a further datapoint, Tom Davis (R-VA) announced he wasn’t running for reelection yesterday.

Is the number historically high among either party? That is, the total number may not be unusual, but the number/percentage of Republicans retiring is.