A Visual Guide: The Balance Of Power Between Congress and The Presidency
Which party controls Congress? Which, the White House? The answer reveals the "balance of power" in the two branches of government that have elected officials (Congress and the White House).
Americans seem to prefer that the checks-and-balances envisioned by the founders be facilitated by having different parties control Congress and the White House. This is reflected in the 2010 election results, which will take effect when Congress convenes in January 2011. While the Senate's Democratic majority will remain intact, Republicans will gain at least 60 seats in the House of Representatives, putting it at odds with the Democratically-controlled White House and Senate.
Contrary to popular belief, most of the time (in modern political history) Congress and the President are at odds; that is, most of the time the same political party does not control the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. Only 10 times (20 years) since 1945 have both branches of Congress and the Presidency been controlled by the same party.
However, most of the time, Congress has been controlled by the same party. The "odd man out" has literally been the President. Since 1945, the House and Senate have been controlled by different parties only five times (10 years). And there have been only two complete turn-overs of Congress since 1945: one in 1949 and the other in 2007.
Updated 5 January 2009
Yellow years mark Presidential inauguration.
* There were 50 Ds and 50 Rs until May 24, 2001, when Sen. James Jeffords (R-VT) switched to Independent status, effective June 6, 2001; he announced that he would caucus with the Democrats, giving the Democrats a one-seat advantage.