No Speaker since 1933 was elected with more than one vote from the minority party

With the Republican party now selecting their nominee for the next Speaker of the House, there’s been some discussion of whether a moderate Republican candidate could secure enough Democratic votes to secure a win without the support of the conservative wing of the party. The data says that’s unlikely.

Not since 1856 was a Speaker elected with a significant number of votes from multiple parties, when Nathaniel Banks, a Republican, won the speakership by three votes with the help of Democrats and the American party, according to the below data. Since 1933, no Speaker has been elected with more than one vote from the other party(s).

The table below shows every roll call vote to elect the Speaker of the House that I could find since 1841. The candidates for Speaker and vote tallies are indicated in each row. The column “Minority Party Votes for Winner” is a count of the votes the winner received from outside his or her party (more or less — see note at end). Not every year has a vote. That might be because the vote that year was not a roll call vote. It might have been a voice vote or other archaic form of a non-recorded vote. Or it might not be labeled as a Speaker vote in the underlying data correctly.

Year Candidates Minority-Party Votes for Winner Source
2015 Boehner, 216; Pelosi, 164; Not Voting, 25; Webster (FL), 12; Gohmert, 3; Jordan, 2; Yoho, 2; Cooper, 1; Duncan (SC), 1; Hon. Rand Paul, 1; Hon. Jeff Sessions, 1; Lewis, 1; Gowdy, 1; McCarthy, 1; DeFazio, 1; Colin Powell, 1; Present, 1 0 house.gov
2013 Boehner, 220; Pelosi, 192; Not Voting, 6; Cantor, 3; Allen West, 2; Cooper, 2; Labrador, 1; Jordan, 1; Present, 1; David Walker, 1; Lewis, 1; Colin Powell, 1; Dingell, 1; Amash, 1 0 house.gov
2011 Boehner, 241; Pelosi, 173; Shuler, 11; Lewis (GA), 2; Not Voting, 1; Costa, 1; Present, 1; Cooper, 1; Cardoza, 1; Kaptur, 1; Hoyer, 1 0 house.gov
2009 Pelosi, 255; Boehner, 174; Not Voting, 5 1 house.gov
2007 Pelosi, 233; Boehner, 202 0 house.gov
2005 Hastert, 226; Pelosi, 199; Not Voting, 7; Present, 1; Murtha, 1 0 house.gov
2003 Hastert, 227; Pelosi, 202; Present, 4; Not Voting, 1; Murtha, 1 0 house.gov
1999 Hastert, 220; Gephardt, 205; Not Voting, 7; Present, 2 1 house.gov
1997 Gingrich, 216; Gephardt, 205; Present, 6; Leach, 2; Michel, 1; Not Voting, 1; Walker, 1 0 house.gov
1983 O’NEILL, 259; MICHEL, 155; Not Voting, 18; Unknown, 2 1 VoteView.com
1977 O’NEILL, 290; RHODES, 142; Not Voting, 2 0 VoteView.com
1975 CARL ALBERT, DEM, 287; JOHN RHODES (R), 143; Unknown, 3; Not Voting, 2 1 VoteView.com
1971 ALBERT, 250; Unknown, 176; Not Voting, 2 0 VoteView.com
1969 JOHN MC CORMACK (D), 241; Unknown, 187; Not Voting, 2 0 VoteView.com
1935 BYRNS, 317; SNELL, 95; SCHNEIDER, 9; Unknown, 3; LAMBERTSON, 2 0 VoteView.com
1933 RAINEY (DEM), 302; SNELL (REP), 110; KVALE(FL), 5 1 VoteView.com
1931 J.N. GARNER, 218; B.H. SNELL, 207; G.J. SCHNEIDER., 5; Unknown, 3 2 VoteView.com
1927 LONGWORTH, 225; GARRETT, 187; Not Voting, 19; Unknown, 5 1 VoteView.com
1919 F.H. GILLETT, 228; CHAMP CLARK, 171; Not Voting, 6 0 VoteView.com
1917 CLARK, 217; MANN, 205; OTHERS/PRESENT, 6 5 VoteView.com
1915 CHAMP CLARK (DEM.), 222; J. R. MANN (REP.), 195; Unknown, 5; Not Voting, 1 1 VoteView.com
1907 CANNON, J.G. (REP), 212; WILLIAMS, J.S. (DEM), 162; Not Voting, 14 1 VoteView.com
1905 J. S. WILLIAMS (D), 243; J. G. CANNON (R), 128; Not Voting, 15 0 VoteView.com
1903 J.G. CANNON, 197; J.S. WILLIAMS, 166; Not Voting, 22 4 VoteView.com
1901 HENDERSON (REP), 192; RICHARDSON (DEM), 150; Not Voting, 10; STARK, 1; CUMMING, 1 1 VoteView.com
1897 T.B. REED (R), 200; J.W. BAILEY (D), 114; J.C. BILL, 21; Not Voting, 19; F.G. NEWLANDS, 1 1 VoteView.com
1893 C. F. CRISP, 212; T. B. REED, 121; J. SIMPSON, 9 3 VoteView.com
1889 T.B. REED, 166; J.G. CARLISLE, 154; Unknown, 1 0 VoteView.com
1887 CARLISLE, 163; REED, 147; Not Voting, 13; Unknown, 2 2 VoteView.com
1885 CARLISLE, 178; KEIFER, 138; Not Voting, 9 2 VoteView.com
1883 CARLISLE, 187; KEIFER, 114; Not Voting, 15; ROBINSON, 2; WADSWORTH, 1; LACEY, 1; WISE, 1 3 VoteView.com
1881 KEIFER, 148; RANDALL, 129; FORD, 8 3 VoteView.com
1879 RANDALL, 144; GARFIELD, 125; WRIGHT, 13; Not Voting, 1 7 VoteView.com
1877 RANDALL, 149; GARFIELD, 132 2 VoteView.com
1871 BLAINE, 126; MORGAN, 93; Not Voting, 2 2 VoteView.com
1867 COLFAX (WHIG), 127; MARSHALL (DEMOCRAT), 30 4 VoteView.com
1865 COLFAX (REPUBLICAN), 129; Unknown, 35; Not Voting, 14 7 VoteView.com
1856 NATHANIAL BANKS, 103; W. AIKEN, 100; Not Voting, 18; LEWIS CAMPBELL, 6; Unknown, 5 22 VoteView.com
1853 L. BOYD (DEM), 143; JOS. CHANDLER (WHIG), 35; Unknown, 21; Not Voting, 17; L. CAMPBELL, (WHIG), 11; P. ERVING (WHIG), 7 3 VoteView.com
1847 ROBERT WINTHROP, 110; LINN BOYD, 64; ALL OTHERS, 25; MC CLELLAND, 14; Not Voting, 11; MC CLERNAND, 4 1 VoteView.com
1845 DAVIS, 120; VINTON, 70; OTHER CANDIDATES, 19; Not Voting, 11 0 VoteView.com
1841 JOHN WHITE, 121; JOHN W. JONES, 84; Not Voting, 20; HENRY A. WISE, 8; JOSEPH LAWRENCE, 5; WILLIAM C. JOHNSON, 2; Unknown, 1 0 VoteView.com

Notes

From 1990 to the present, votes are from the House Clerk’s website. Prior to that, vote data is from Rosenthal & Poole’s United States Congressional Roll Call Voting Records, 1789-1990, Carnegie Mellon University. Some of the historical roll call vote data were first collected & entered many decades ago and suffers from significant data coding errors. I am reasonably sure some of the candidate tally totals are incorrect.

To compute the minority party votes, I first assumed the winner was the candidate that received the most number of votes. Then I looked at the party totals for that candidate and assumed the party that made up the most number of votes for that candidate is the majority party (because I don’t know the actual party of the candidate). The minority party votes is the sum of those party totals excluding the majority party.

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