Realignment and Party Revival: Understanding American Electoral Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

By Arthur Paulson | Go to book overview

1
A Century of Presidential Elections: From "System of '96" to System of '96

Looking ahead to the Presidential election of 1996, Rhodes Cook of Congressional Quarterly wrote that to win, Republican Robert Dole would have to reassemble the normally Republican coalition of states in the south and west, what Cook called the "Republican L." 1 Mr. Dole did, indeed, carry most of those states, but not enough of them. President Bill Clinton, the incumbent Democrat, cracked both the south and the west, and nearly swept the northeast quadrant of the country. The result was that President Clinton was the first Democratic President to win re-election since 1944, more than half a century before, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected to a fourth term.

The Presidential election of 1996 provided further evidence of two realities of electoral change. First, the Democratic Party is no longer the nation's majority party, as it had been in 1944, and it has not been for some time. Before Bill Clinton was elected President in 1992, the Republicans had won five of the previous six Presidential elections. Moreover, during the Clinton Presidency, the Republicans have won control of Congress and have retained it even in the face of his re-election.

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