Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Homestretch Momentum

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Homestretch Momentum

Article excerpt

The view of the Nov. 5 American elections from here is that not much will alter a momentum that has been on full view for a year or more.

This has been a normalizing election. If President Clinton wins reelection and the Democrats even things in the House and Senate, the American polity will finish out the past half century with remarkable parity.

From Harry Truman on, five Democrats have been elected president, and four Republicans (five officeholders each if Jerry Ford is counted for the GOP). Three Republicans will have been reelected (Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan), and three Democrats voted back in (Truman, Johnson, Clinton). With Congress, the electorate is evidently countering the swing that went Republican in 1994, partly under assertions of voter anger and media bias. In 1994 and again now, in practically the same proportions, half of voters say they are dissatisfied but not angry, a quarter satisfied but not enthusiastic, and a fifth or fewer say they're angry, with a sliver enthusiastic about how the federal government works. Anger was overblown in 1994 as a driving force in politics. The public does think the government tries to do too many things, but this has been the prevailing view at least since the reaction to Democratic social reforms under Lyndon Johnson. Is media bias affecting the outcome? We know the public thinks the media are biased, and some in the media agree. Right? The latest Public Perspective, published by the Roper Center, reviews this topic. It begins by observing that almost 90 percent of Washington-based political journalists voted for Clinton in 1992. Half the Washington reporters identified themselves as Democrats, 37 percent independent, and 4 percent Republican. National newspaper editors, and younger reporters, come closer to a balance in party and independent leanings. …

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