Greater Dooms Win
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