Losing to Win: The 1996 Elections and American Politics

By James W. Ceaser; Andrew E. Busch | Go to book overview

Chapter 1
Greater Dooms Win
Greater Destinies

The American electorate of the nineties stands out for its willingness to experiment with alternative political lifestyles. Call it a penchant for majority shopping, or perhaps merely a succession of cases of buyers' regret, but American voters have tried three of the four possible partisan combinations for arranging power in Washington: a Republican President with a Democratic Congress, a Democratic President with a Democratic Congress, and a Democratic President with a Republican Congress. 1 To the Republicans' dismay, the one option that has been neglected is a Republican President with a Republican Congress. In only two periods in the last century has there been a comparable series of shifts, between 1888-1896 and between 1946-1954, when the electorate batted for the whole circuit and went through the cycle of all four combinations.

The current decade—let us start in 1988—began with a Republican President ( George Bush) elected with a Democratic Congress. This configuration appeared with such frequency during the previous twenty years that many political scientists considered it the statistical "norm" for modern American politics. Under the daunting title of the theory of "split-level realignment," Republicans were said to hold a lease on the presidential suite on the top level, while Democrats were the permanent tenants of Congress, certainly of the House. As Byron Shafer succinctly put it, "The Republicans, being the party of cultural traditionalism and foreign nationalism, control the presidency. The Democrats, being the party of economic liberalism and service delivery, control the House." 2

Divided government ended in 1992, when the Democrats main

-1-

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Losing to Win: The 1996 Elections and American Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Losing to Win *
  • To Mindy and Blaire *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Chapter 1 - Greater Dooms Win Greater Destinies 1
  • Notes 24
  • Chapter 2 - The Two Clinton Presidencies 27
  • Notes 53
  • Chapter 3 - The Republican Nomination 57
  • Notes 86
  • Chapter 4 - In the Doledrums: the Interregnum from March to September 89
  • Notes 115
  • Chapter 5 - The Congressional Elections 119
  • Notes 145
  • Chapter 6 - The Presidential Election and the New Era of Coalitional Partnership 149
  • Notes 172
  • Appendix 1 - Presidential Vote by State, 1996 175
  • Index 177
  • About the Authors *
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