WITH OVER HALF the primaries concluded, Campaign '94 is shaping
up as another election in which the angriest voters get their way.
It may be heading toward a big Republican year unless
Democratic voters regain enthusiasm and Republican candidates
blunder, which at least one expert says is entirely possible.
Besides voter disenchantment, the fall elections will test the
muscle of the Christian right and the ability of billionaire Texan
Ross Perot's followers to stick together.
The coming campaign features undercurrents, sub-plots and new
Voters More Cynical Than Ever
Political experts say to watch out for an ornery electorate
that may be even more unpredictable than in 1992. Beyond the
potential effects of billionaire Ross Perot's forces, this election
has the Concord Coalition - the grass-roots effort to trim the
budget deficit - and the Chaos Coalition, the effort to forge a
If that weren't enough, the conservative Free Congress
Foundation is spearheading something called the NOTA movement (None
of The Above), aimed at giving voters a right to reject all
candidates and force new elections.
Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster in Washington, observed
that anti-incumbent sentiments have taken a new twist.
"Last time, people thought that if we send new people to
Washington, the problems will be solved. This time, voters are even
cynical about sending new people, because they worry that they
might not be able to find the men's room or the lady's room,"
Mellman has a warning for candidates trying to run as
outsiders: "As soon as you run your first political ad, you're part
of the system."
Poll-takers of both parties said that cynicism is working
against Democrats who also have face the prospect of traditional
mid-term election losses by the party holding the White House. On
top of that, voters continue to worry about their financial
well-being despite growth in the national economy. In a Los Angeles
Times poll of 1,515 people late last month, nearly two of every
three people picked the word "shaky" to describe the economy.
An overall sense of the country being on the wrong track is
compounded by President Bill Clinton's unpopularity, pollsters say.
Although Clinton has showed an ability to rebound, for now his
political problems are translating to lukewarm sentiments for
Democratic candidates in general.
Neal B. Freeman, publisher of the TechnoPolitics newsletter and
a television program of the same name, observed that the disparity
in excitement about this election is as stark as he has seen in a
"One side of the political spectrum feels intensely about this
upcoming election while the other side couldn't care less," Freeman
said, referring to Republicans' interest and Democrats' apathy.
"That means that in close elections, Republicans are in much better
Pollsters observe that Democrats may have time to recoup, with
the prospect of health care legislation and politically attractive
features of anti-crime legislation, chiefly 100,000 new police
officers on the streets. And two more factors that make it risky to
count Republican gains this early: the potential of Republican
blunders and Ross Perot.
Will The GOP Blow It?
Next month, most Republicans running for Congress will gather
on the Capitol steps to announce what they call a contract with the
American people. Later, Republican Senate aspirants and groups of
statewide and local candidates are planning similar gatherings. …