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

By Harvey L. Schantz | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3

The Presidential Campaign and Vote in 1996

Job Ratings of Presidents—and Success or Failure at the Polls

MILTON C. CUMMINGS JR.

In an election year that some commentators asserted produced the dullest and least exciting presidential campaign in many decades, there were nonetheless a number of noteworthy features in the final voting returns. President Bill Clinton, the Democratic nominee, won a decisive victory over former Senator Bob Dole, his Republican opponent, and Ross Perot, the candidate of the Reform Party. Clinton carried thirty-one of the fifty states and the District of Columbia, and won 379 electoral votes to 159 for Dole. Clinton’s victory marked the first time since 1936 that a Democratic president had been elected to a second full term. And he was only the fourth Democratic president in history—along with Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Andrew Jackson—to win two consecutive presidential terms. 1

Clinton’s vote went up between 1992 and 1996; but the vote for the other presidential candidate who ran in both years, Ross Perot, dropped sharply, from 18.9 percent in 1992 to 8.4 percent four years later. Even so, Perot’s 1996 presidential showing was the sixth largest vote percentage polled by a third-party or independent presidential candidate since the Civil War. In addition, though little noted, there was another sign in 1996 that many voters were not wedded firmly to the two major parties. Between 1992 and 1996, the vote for minor-party candidates for president other than Perot more than doubled. 2 Those “other” minor-party tallies included close to 700,000 votes for Ralph Nader on the Green Party ticket, and nearly half a million votes for Harry Browne on the Libertarian ticket.

The 1996 voting for Congress also produced an outcome that would have a powerful impact on relations between the president and Congress for at least the next two years. The Republican party suffered a moderate net loss of seats in the House of Representatives and gained strength in the Senate. But the election left the Republicans with clear majorities in both

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • List of Tables ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Series Editor Foreword xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Chapter 1 - Some Things Are Predictable 1
  • Chapter 2 - Congressional Nominations in 1996 41
  • Chapter 3 - The Presidential Campaign and Vote in 1996 63
  • Notes 83
  • Chapter 4 - Strategic Partisan Decisions and Blunted National Outcomes 85
  • Chapter 5 - Sideshows and Strategic Separations 105
  • Notes 124
  • Chapter 6 - Clinton’s Second Transition 129
  • Notes 150
  • Chapter 7 - The Irony of the 105th Congress and Its Legacy 155
  • Notes 177
  • Epilogue 181
  • List of Contributors 183
  • Index 185
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