Midterm: The Elections of 1994 in Context

By Philip A. Klinkner | Go to book overview

One can add to this analysis that the anti-incumbent sentiment expressed in 1992 and the anti-Congress sentiment expressed in public opinion polls for many years but reaching its height during the 103rd Congress, each accentuated by the combative style of the new Republican leader, Gingrich, encouraged potential Republican candidates that they might emerge victorious if, not in the 1994 election, in one shortly thereafter. In some ways the 1994 recapturing of majority status was a bonus for those looking toward the future of Republican politics under Gingrich's influence. If this hypothesis has merit, one would expect more wealthy Republican ideologues to seek seats in Congress in 1996 and beyond. 17

These conclusions hold largely for wealthy economic conservatives who desire to get the government off their backs and who, previously, have not sought elective office because of high personal costs and little opportunity for effective influence. But what about the other wing of the Republican party, the social conservatives, who have been increasingly influential in the party in recent years but whose agenda has also not moved very quickly in the Congress? While the data in this paper do not speak to those individuals, one could hypothesize--and one can find at least anecdotal supporting evidence in 1994--that some of those amateurs who won without large inputs of their own funds came from the religious right and were supported enthusiastically by those who agreed with their views and saw the opportunity, again under Gingrich, to have their views reflected by the Republican party in Congress.

In these cases the strategic decision making of potential candidates might well have been altered in 1994 from what it had been prior to that election. The Republican party has emerged as a potent political force throughout much of the South and other regions in which the religious right is influential. Republican candidates who in the past considered races against incumbent Democrats, or races in open seats that were traditionally held by Democrats, to be hopeless and thus not worth the personal costs now see these seats as winnable and providing a promising venue for pursuing their strongly felt political agenda.

That 1994 was a watershed election is beyond doubt (see Cook 1995). However, this analysis also implies that the experience of candidates in 1994 should cause us to look carefully at the 1996 candidate pool for continued evidence of new paths to Congress, particularly for Republicans. Only then can we see clearly how theories of recruitment and emergence fare in a new political order.


NOTES
1.
An earlier version of this chapter was given as a paper at the 1995 Annual Meeting of the New England Political Science Association in Portland, Maine on May 6. The authors would like to thank Ann Camissa for her helpful comments at that time. We would also like to thank Gary Jacobson for his willingness to compare his dataset with ours, allowing us to clarify discrepancies caused by slight differences in definitions of terms.
2.
The number 39 includes 3 Republicans who won in seats that became open became after the primary--New Jersey's 11th district, in which Rodney Freylinghuysen won the nomination after the incumbent Republican withdrew; New York's 4th, in which the in-

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Midterm: The Elections of 1994 in Context
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Transforming American Politics ii
  • Forthcoming Titles iii
  • Title Page v
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1: The 1994 House Elections in Perspective 1
  • Notes 20
  • 2: Eight More in '94: The Republican Takeover of the Senate 21
  • Notes 45
  • 3: "Permanent Minority" No More: House Republicans in 1994 47
  • Notes 60
  • 4: Court and Country in American Politics: The Democratic Party and the 1994 Election 61
  • Notes 78
  • 5: Money in the 1994 Elections and Beyond 81
  • Conclusion 94
  • 6: The 1994 Electoral Aftershock: Dealignment Or Realignment in the South 99
  • Conclusion 110
  • 7: The Politics of Pragmatism: The Christian Right and the 1994 Elections 115
  • 8: In Search of the Angry White Male: Gender, Race, and Issues in the 1994 Elections 125
  • Notes 136
  • 9: Re-Exploring the Weak-Challenger Hypothesis: The 1994 Candidate Pools 137
  • Notes 153
  • 10: Innovative Midterm Elections 157
  • Notes 170
  • References 171
  • About the Book 183
  • About the Editor and Contributors 185
  • Index 189
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