Fewer U.S. Senators are Dying in Office than Ever Before

Utah and Arizona are the only two states that have not had a sitting U.S. Senator die while in office.

A Smart Politics analysis finds fewer U.S. Senators are dying in office than ever before. Only one U.S. Senator passed away in 2013, Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, and four have passed away over the last 5 years.

Only one time in the last 35 years has more than one sitting U.S. Senator died while in office. That was in 1978 when Montana Democrat Lee Metcalf, Minnesota Democrat Herbert Humphrey and Alabama Democrat James Allen passed away. 

The 1990s also saw the longest gap between deaths of sitting Senators in U.S. history at 7 years, 1 month, and 16 days between the death of Democrat Quentin Burdick of North Dakota in September 1992 and Rhode Island Republican John Chafee in October 1999.

There have been only seven periods in which no U.S. Senators have died in office for three consecutive years, and four of these stretches have occurred since the 1970s: 1973-1975, 1979-1982, 1993-1998, and 2003-2006.

The only other such streaks occurred between 1794-1797 (when the chamber had just 30 to 32 members), 1810-1813 (when it had 34 to 36 members), and 1887-1889 (when it had 76 to 88 members).

The most common months for such tragedy to befall members of the Senate are June, November and December.