The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Almost half of the 114th Congress has been elected since 2010

You can say a lot of things about the U.S. Congress. One thing you can't really say, though, is that they'v been in Washington way too long.

Come January, nearly half of Congress (48.8 percent) will have been in office for four years or less -- i.e. elected in 2010 or later. That includes 49.7 percent of the House and 45 percent of the Senate  -- assuming GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy defeats Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu in the Louisiana runoff Dec. 6.

Going back a little further (based on numbers crunched from Fair Vote data), 63 percent of the new Congress will have been elected in 2006 or later. That 63 percent figure is equal to where new membership stood after the GOP wave of 1994. After the 2012 election, the same figure was just 54 percent.

Below is a look at the breakdowns of Congress after the elections of 1818, 1914, 1994, 2012 and 2014. A century ago, nearly eight in 10 members of the House had served eight years or less.

There are still plenty of folks who have been in Congress for a decade or more, but given recent wave elections and retirements by some of the longest-serving members in the House, there will soon be fewer than 100 members of the House elected prior to 2000.

In addition, the average length of service in the new House will be less than nine years (8.8 years, to be exact) -- continuing a downward trend after reaching a high of more than 10 years last decade and in the early 1990s. (8.8 years is still on the high end historically, but it's one of the lowest numbers in the last two decades.)

Far be it from us to defend the folks in the U.S. Capitol, but after four "wave" elections in five election cycles, there is at least plenty of *relatively* new blood on Capitol Hill.

Whether they'll actually change the ways of Washington, of course, is an entirely different question.