The 1994 United States elections were held on November 8, 1994. The election occurred in the middle of Democratic President Bill Clinton's first term in office, and elected the members of 104th United States Congress. This was the year known as the Republican Revolution, in which members of the Republican Party captured majorities in the House of Representatives, Senate and governors mansions. Republicans were able to gain eight Senate seats, fifty-four House seats, and ten governorships. In addition, many state legislative chambers switched from Democratic to Republican control. This became the first time since 1954 that control of both Congressional chambers switched at the same time.
Republicans were able to nationalize the election by campaigning on a "Contract with America," and the new Republican majorities passed conservative legislation such as the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, and the Defense of Marriage Act. The election was a major defeat for Clinton's health care plan, but Clinton's subsequent move to the center may have helped him win re-election in 1996. George W. Bush's election as Governor of Texas laid the groundwork for his successful campaign for president in 2000.
During the 1994 Congressional election campaign, the United States Republican Party released a document that it called the Contract with America. Written by Larry Hunter, who was aided by Newt Gingrich, Robert Walker, Richard Armey, Bill Paxon, Tom DeLay, John Boehner and Jim Nussle, and in part using text from former President Ronald Reagan's 1985 State of the Union Address, the Contract detailed the actions the Republicans promised to take if they became the majority party in the United States House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Many of the Contract's policy ideas originated at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.
The Contract with America was introduced six weeks before the 1994 Congressional election, the first mid-term election of President Bill Clinton's Administration, and was signed by all but two of the Republican members of the House and all of the Party's non-incumbent Republican Congressional candidates.
Proponents say the Contract was revolutionary in its commitment to offering specific legislation for a vote, describing in detail the precise plan of the Congressional Representatives, and marked the first time since 1918 that a Congressional election had been run broadly on a national level. Furthermore, its provisions represented the view of many conservative Republicans on the issues of shrinking the size of government, promoting lower taxes and greater entrepreneurial activity, and both tort reform and welfare reform.
When the Republicans gained a majority of seats in the 104th Congress, the Contract was seen as a triumph by Party leaders such as Minority Whip Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, and the American conservative movement in general.
In 2014, historian John Steele Gordon, writing in The American, an online magazine published by the American Enterprise Institute, said that "(t)he main reason (for the Republican victory in 1994) was surely the Contract with America..." in part because it "nationalized the election, making it one of reform versus business as usual. The people voted for reform." He said that the Contract "turned out to be a brilliant political ploy. The contract tuned in to the American electorate’s deep yearning for reform in Washington, a yearning that had expressed itself in the elections of both (U.S. Presidents) Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan."