Before the election there was much speculation as to how the impeachment hearings on President Clinton would influence the vote, but there was also a general consensus that Republicans would more than likely gain seats in the House of Representatives and the Senate. As a result of the election, however, while the Senate ratio of 55 Republicans to 45 Democrats remained unchanged, the Republicans actually lost seats in the House, retaining only a slight majority,
The Republican losses (and Democratic gains) in the House were unprecedented because it had been decades since the party of the sitting President had won seats in a "mid-term" Congressional election ("mid-term" meaning in the middle of the president's term) The election results were widely attributed to voter dissatisfaction with Republican efforts to impeach Clinton.
Almost immediately after the election, numerous disgruntled Republicans openly began to call for a change in leadership, and several declared their candidacy for various positions. Representative Robert L. Livingston of Louisiana emerged as the leading challenger for the Speaker's job, putting himself forward as a level-headed manager who did not have Gingrich's propensity for self-created crises. Gingrich was criticized by many Republicans for being too confrontational and too relentless in his pursuit of Clinton's impeachment, thereby creating an overly negative image of the Republican party as sex-scandal obsessed persecutors of the President.
Newt Gingrich, who himself had been just re-elected, decided to resign
as Speaker to avoid a damaging internal struggle within the Republican
party. He also resigned his seat in the House as a representative of Marietta,
Georgia, effectively retiring from Washington politics with the explanation
that "for me to stay in the House would make it impossible for a new leader
to have a chance to grow, to learn and to do what they need to do. I think
there comes a time when you've got to step out and let a new team take
November 3, 1998 -- Congressional Elections: Republicans lose seats in the House of Representatives, but maintain majorities in both House and Senate.
November 6, 1998 -- Republican Representative Robert L. Livingston announces
his challenge to Newt Gingrich's speakership; Gingrich resigns as Speaker
and retires from the House of Representatives.