Politics in An Era of Divided Government: Elections and Goverance in the Second Clinton Administration

By Harvey L. Schantz | Go to book overview
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Introduction

HARVEY L. SCHANTZ

The Constitution of the United States directs that the American electorate choose a president every four years; a House of Representatives every two years; and one-third of the Senate every two years. In 1996, U.S. political leaders and voters complied with this mandate, as the electorate chose a president for the fifty-third time and also elected the members of the 105th Congress. The Clinton presidency, along with the 106th Congress elected in the 1998 midterm election, will complete 212 years of governance under the Constitution of the United States.

The national election of 1996 and its aftermath occurred in an era of divided government. In the eight presidential administrations since 1969, there has been divided partisan control of the Congress and president for 26 of 32 years. In 1995, though, Bill Clinton became the first Democratic president since Harry Truman in 1947-1948 to share control of the government with a Republican Congress. The 1996 and 1998 elections maintained this political lineup.

This book describes, explains, and reflects upon the 1996 presidential and congressional elections, devoting equal coverage to three phases of the political process: the major party nominations, the general election, and the subsequent government organization. In so doing, this study links elections and governance.


THE PARTY NOMINATIONS FOR THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS

The first two chapters of this book address the party nominations for the presidency and Congress. Although not called for in the Constitution, the major party nomination process is the crucial first step for any candidate seeking the presidency or a seat in the U.S. House or Senate. All presidents, aside from George Washington, have won the presidential general election as the nominee of a major political party. Throughout U.S. history, and

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