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