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Author Topic: Was Clinton unbeatable in 1996?  (Read 929 times)
Sir Mohamed
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« on: June 14, 2018, 01:53:36 am »

Even if Perot wasn't running, was Bill Clinton unbeatable in 1996? I mean, he already had scandals that year. I think another candidate could have been stronger than Bob Dole.
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« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2018, 11:05:37 am »

In the final months leading up to the 1996 election, Clinton's approval ratings were consistently in the upper 50s/lower 60s. This meant that his opponent would have had a lesser chance of winning than Kerry did against Bush in 2004 (when Bush's approval ratings were consistently in the upper 40s/lower 50s).
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« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2018, 11:38:59 am »

It was a near certainty once Dole was the opposition, especially since Buchanan and other conservatives hurt his image in the Primaries.

Before the Primaries, it wasn't certain, but likely.

The only surprise is that Clinton didn't win by a bigger margin (both in the popular vote and EC) than he did.
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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2018, 12:48:39 pm »

It was a near certainty once Dole was the opposition, especially since Buchanan and other conservatives hurt his image in the Primaries.

Before the Primaries, it wasn't certain, but likely.

The only surprise is that Clinton didn't win by a bigger margin (both in the popular vote and EC) than he did.
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2018, 06:58:02 pm »


The only surprise is that Clinton didn't win by a bigger margin (both in the popular vote and EC) than he did.


Even if they lose republicans tend to turnout more than expected which was why despite the economy being in crisis in 2008. Obama only won by 7.3% when the 1980 crisis caused Carter to lose by 9.5%. Mainly because of their base consisting of groups that are very committed to their beliefs (ie: christian evangelicals, right wing populists, anti-tax suburbanites, etc). Compared to dems who usually has to rely on low turnout groups (working class people/minorities, liberals, young voters, etc).
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2018, 07:37:34 pm »


The only surprise is that Clinton didn't win by a bigger margin (both in the popular vote and EC) than he did.


Even if they lose republicans tend to turnout more than expected which was why despite the economy being in crisis in 2008. Obama only won by 7.3% when the 1980 crisis caused Carter to lose by 9.5%. Mainly because of their base consisting of groups that are very committed to their beliefs (ie: christian evangelicals, right wing populists, anti-tax suburbanites, etc). Compared to dems who usually has to rely on low turnout groups (working class people/minorities, liberals, young voters, etc).

Here's one huge difference between 1980 and 2008

in 1980 the Incumbent was the loser

while in 2008 the Incumbent not on the ballot
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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2018, 07:57:39 pm »

Pretty much. That's why the 1996 election is probably one of the least interesting ones.
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2018, 10:10:41 pm »

Eh, I'd say it depends, based on two different paths.

One: let's say you're forced to create a situation where you're stuck with Bob Dole and Jack Kemp. Here is a path to victory.

1). The South is the motherlode. If Dole/Kemp win here, then it's going to be a lot tighter for Clinton. To do this, he needs to make the message there based on morals. Dig up the past scandals, try to utilize the ugliness the GOP uses, by uprooting embarrassing personal Clinton secrets and unleashing them. Obviously, ad-blitzing the South doesn't hurt. I'd think this helps with Kentucky.

2.) Utilize the Clinton failures from 1993-1995. These would be great for obvious reasons.

3.) Take out the Gov't Shutdown of '95. This hurt the GOP in General.

4.) Find out Monica Lewinsky. ASAP. If there's even a shred of evidence, the lead is destroyed if used correctly.

Now this probably gets Dole to at least 240-265. To get to 270, I'd say he needs to ace the debates.

Now the second path is switching the ticket. I'd say the GOP hit's the lottery if they nominate Colin Powell for President, and either John Engler, Connie Mack III, or Carroll Campbell for Vice President. And they need to take all 4 steps from path one.

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« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2018, 11:28:17 am »

Before the Government Shutdown of 1995-96,  he was beatable and was even favored to lose prior to the brief rally around the flag effect that came after the Oklahoma City Bombing. After the Govt. Shutdown Clinton was unbeatable.
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« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2018, 12:39:50 pm »

Clinton was running far ahead of Dole in September and October.  I remember he had a 10 point lead in Georgia in October 1996 and he was in range in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (and of course, he won Louisiana and Arkansas by big margins)--hard to believe today.

Dole made somewhat of a comeback by late October.  The DNC financing controversy regarding China helped him somewhat.  Plus, his 96 hour nonstop run at the end of the campaign brought him a lot of goodwill and brought the base out to vote.  And the Republican vote was more out in force than usual to hold the majority in the House and Senate.
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« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2018, 12:55:26 pm »

Clinton was running far ahead of Dole in September and October.  I remember he had a 10 point lead in Georgia in October 1996 and he was in range in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (and of course, he won Louisiana and Arkansas by big margins)--hard to believe today.

Dole made somewhat of a comeback by late October.  The DNC financing controversy regarding China helped him somewhat.  Plus, his 96 hour nonstop run at the end of the campaign brought him a lot of goodwill and brought the base out to vote.  And the Republican vote was more out in force than usual to hold the majority in the House and Senate.

Certainly.  However, I remember reading a quote one time from a campaign adviser or something that said Clinton was really mad he didn't flip the entire South.  He was set on being that Democrat that brought the South back into the fold (while also making other gains elsewhere and therefore winning in a landslide), and I remember reading that it actually bothered him a lot that he couldn't get a Carter 1976-type sweep (i.e., possibly excluding Virginia and with Texas and Oklahoma a stretch).  A lot of people forget that this was still during (or at the latest shortly after) a time period where a lot of political scientists believed that any Democrat winning nationally had to have a very good showing in the South and likely a Southerner on the ticket.  It wasn't until post-Bush 2000 (I'd argue) that Democrats felt they weren't reliant on at least a large portion of the South, and even looking back at some posts on this site from circa 2004 that I've stumbled across, people never thought of the South as non-competitive until after Bush won in 2004.  The region tended to have wild swings (see 1972 to 1976, LOL), so it appeared "solid" for whomever won it, and today it's very easy to spin a tail of "South became GOP after Civil Rights Act except Carter who was Southern and then Reagan sealed the deal in 1980 by appealing to racists better than Ford," but most contemporary texts in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that I have run across place the South as a battleground region, and I believe it was thought of that way even into 1996 by many.
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2018, 12:58:21 pm »

Clinton was running far ahead of Dole in September and October.  I remember he had a 10 point lead in Georgia in October 1996 and he was in range in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (and of course, he won Louisiana and Arkansas by big margins)--hard to believe today.

How was this possible? Wouldn't the evangelicals and gun owners be hostile to Clinton?
Plus, his 96 hour nonstop run at the end of the campaign brought him a lot of goodwill and brought the base out to vote.  
Could you point me to somewhere where I can learn about this?
« Last Edit: June 19, 2018, 01:06:15 pm by darklordoftech »Logged
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« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2018, 01:23:38 pm »

Clinton was running far ahead of Dole in September and October.  I remember he had a 10 point lead in Georgia in October 1996 and he was in range in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (and of course, he won Louisiana and Arkansas by big margins)--hard to believe today.

How was this possible? Wouldn't the evangelicals and gun owners be hostile to Clinton?
Plus, his 96 hour nonstop run at the end of the campaign brought him a lot of goodwill and brought the base out to vote.  
Could you point me to somewhere where I can learn about this?

Why would they - many of whom were registered Democrats/Democratic primary voters/downballot Democrats - be any more hostile to Clinton than any other Democrat?
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2018, 01:27:47 pm »

Clinton was running far ahead of Dole in September and October.  I remember he had a 10 point lead in Georgia in October 1996 and he was in range in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (and of course, he won Louisiana and Arkansas by big margins)--hard to believe today.

How was this possible? Wouldn't the evangelicals and gun owners be hostile to Clinton?
Plus, his 96 hour nonstop run at the end of the campaign brought him a lot of goodwill and brought the base out to vote.  
Could you point me to somewhere where I can learn about this?

Why would they - many of whom were registered Democrats/Democratic primary voters/downballot Democrats - be any more hostile to Clinton than any other Democrat?
I didn't say they were less hostile to other Democrats. None of them voted for Dukakis, and downballet Democrats in the south were generally Manchin-types.
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« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2018, 09:47:22 pm »

Clinton was running far ahead of Dole in September and October.  I remember he had a 10 point lead in Georgia in October 1996 and he was in range in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (and of course, he won Louisiana and Arkansas by big margins)--hard to believe today.

Dole made somewhat of a comeback by late October.  The DNC financing controversy regarding China helped him somewhat.  Plus, his 96 hour nonstop run at the end of the campaign brought him a lot of goodwill and brought the base out to vote.  And the Republican vote was more out in force than usual to hold the majority in the House and Senate.

Certainly.  However, I remember reading a quote one time from a campaign adviser or something that said Clinton was really mad he didn't flip the entire South.  He was set on being that Democrat that brought the South back into the fold (while also making other gains elsewhere and therefore winning in a landslide), and I remember reading that it actually bothered him a lot that he couldn't get a Carter 1976-type sweep (i.e., possibly excluding Virginia and with Texas and Oklahoma a stretch).  A lot of people forget that this was still during (or at the latest shortly after) a time period where a lot of political scientists believed that any Democrat winning nationally had to have a very good showing in the South and likely a Southerner on the ticket.  It wasn't until post-Bush 2000 (I'd argue) that Democrats felt they weren't reliant on at least a large portion of the South, and even looking back at some posts on this site from circa 2004 that I've stumbled across, people never thought of the South as non-competitive until after Bush won in 2004.  The region tended to have wild swings (see 1972 to 1976, LOL), so it appeared "solid" for whomever won it, and today it's very easy to spin a tail of "South became GOP after Civil Rights Act except Carter who was Southern and then Reagan sealed the deal in 1980 by appealing to racists better than Ford," but most contemporary texts in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that I have run across place the South as a battleground region, and I believe it was thought of that way even into 1996 by many.
Why did 2004 make people view the South as non-competitive? I don't see how Kerry (or Obama or 2016 Hillary for that matter) would appeal to the South.
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« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2018, 10:06:12 pm »

Clinton was running far ahead of Dole in September and October.  I remember he had a 10 point lead in Georgia in October 1996 and he was in range in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (and of course, he won Louisiana and Arkansas by big margins)--hard to believe today.

How was this possible? Wouldn't the evangelicals and gun owners be hostile to Clinton?
Plus, his 96 hour nonstop run at the end of the campaign brought him a lot of goodwill and brought the base out to vote.  
Could you point me to somewhere where I can learn about this?


Here is the link from the November 4, 1996 article in the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1996/11/04/dole-charges-on-in-california-quest/c2835a36-c67a-4153-8332-6135faa1d939/?utm_term=.c30fb49affe0

The 96 hour tour may have helped Dole pick up Georgia, Colorado, Montana, and South Dakota.   Again, it amazes me how noncompetitive the Democrats have become in so much of the country in such a short period of time!
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« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2018, 10:38:58 pm »

Clinton was running far ahead of Dole in September and October.  I remember he had a 10 point lead in Georgia in October 1996 and he was in range in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (and of course, he won Louisiana and Arkansas by big margins)--hard to believe today.

How was this possible? Wouldn't the evangelicals and gun owners be hostile to Clinton?
Plus, his 96 hour nonstop run at the end of the campaign brought him a lot of goodwill and brought the base out to vote.  
Could you point me to somewhere where I can learn about this?


Here is the link from the November 4, 1996 article in the Washington Post:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1996/11/04/dole-charges-on-in-california-quest/c2835a36-c67a-4153-8332-6135faa1d939/?utm_term=.c30fb49affe0

The 96 hour tour may have helped Dole pick up Georgia, Colorado, Montana, and South Dakota.   Again, it amazes me how noncompetitive the Democrats have become in so much of the country in such a short period of time!
Thank you.

The Republicans are just as non-competitive in atlas-red states as Democrats are in atlas-blue states. In 2000, two candidates that were percieved as centrists both failed to make any inroads into any states that leaned towards their opponent's party, and since then the parties have each been associated with certain states in the public conscience.
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« Reply #17 on: June 21, 2018, 11:06:54 am »

Even without Perot, Clinton would have been hard to beat in 1996. While many voters still didn't trust him, he had worked with Newt Gingrich to get welfare reform passed and had governed as a centrist. Also, people sensed that he cared; he also got high marks for his handling of the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. Yes, he was practically unbeatable (plus being one of the most gifted politicians of the last half-century).
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« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2018, 09:51:39 am »

It was a near certainty once Dole was the opposition, especially since Buchanan and other conservatives hurt his image in the Primaries.

Before the Primaries, it wasn't certain, but likely.

The only surprise is that Clinton didn't win by a bigger margin (both in the popular vote and EC) than he did.
Turnout was anemic in 1996. I bet a lot of people who liked Clinton didn't bother to vote because they thought he had it in the bag.
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« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2018, 04:16:55 pm »

Clinton was running far ahead of Dole in September and October.  I remember he had a 10 point lead in Georgia in October 1996 and he was in range in states like Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas (and of course, he won Louisiana and Arkansas by big margins)--hard to believe today.

Dole made somewhat of a comeback by late October.  The DNC financing controversy regarding China helped him somewhat.  Plus, his 96 hour nonstop run at the end of the campaign brought him a lot of goodwill and brought the base out to vote.  And the Republican vote was more out in force than usual to hold the majority in the House and Senate.

Certainly.  However, I remember reading a quote one time from a campaign adviser or something that said Clinton was really mad he didn't flip the entire South.  He was set on being that Democrat that brought the South back into the fold (while also making other gains elsewhere and therefore winning in a landslide), and I remember reading that it actually bothered him a lot that he couldn't get a Carter 1976-type sweep (i.e., possibly excluding Virginia and with Texas and Oklahoma a stretch).  A lot of people forget that this was still during (or at the latest shortly after) a time period where a lot of political scientists believed that any Democrat winning nationally had to have a very good showing in the South and likely a Southerner on the ticket.  It wasn't until post-Bush 2000 (I'd argue) that Democrats felt they weren't reliant on at least a large portion of the South, and even looking back at some posts on this site from circa 2004 that I've stumbled across, people never thought of the South as non-competitive until after Bush won in 2004.  The region tended to have wild swings (see 1972 to 1976, LOL), so it appeared "solid" for whomever won it, and today it's very easy to spin a tail of "South became GOP after Civil Rights Act except Carter who was Southern and then Reagan sealed the deal in 1980 by appealing to racists better than Ford," but most contemporary texts in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s that I have run across place the South as a battleground region, and I believe it was thought of that way even into 1996 by many.




Considering the low unemployment by 1996 a lot of people expected Clinton to do very well considering that everytime the economy improved by four years the incumbent tended to win by a landslide.  FDR 1932 vs 1936. JFK 1960 vs LBJ 1964(moreso due to the assassination). Nixon 1968 vs Nixon 1972. Reagan 1980 vs 1984.  1996 was a realization that despite a good economy that a nationwide sweep was no longer possible despite a good economy due to a electorate that was no longer very swingy considering the hardening of the evangelical vote for the GOP.
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« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2018, 04:32:41 pm »

If you read Clinton's book My life, the campaign was focused on picking up FL and AZ from the start, due to healthcare and the aging of America.  He also badly wanted to breakthrough in VA and NC.  In the short discussion of Election '96 within the book, he was livid that VA and NC were lost in the end after he thought he had them just two weeks before Election Day.
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« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2018, 04:38:07 pm »

" If you read Clinton's book My life, the campaign was focused on picking up FL and AZ from the start, due to healthcare and the aging of America.  He also badly wanted to breakthrough in VA and NC.  In the short discussion of Election '96 within the book, he was livid that VA and NC were lost in the end after he thought he had them just two weeks before Election Day."


And he did it at the cost Wyoming, The Dakotas, Montana, and nearly Kentucky.
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« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2018, 08:19:16 am »

Even without Perot, Clinton would have been hard to beat in 1996. While many voters still didn't trust him, he had worked with Newt Gingrich to get welfare reform passed and had governed as a centrist. Also, people sensed that he cared; he also got high marks for his handling of the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. Yes, he was practically unbeatable (plus being one of the most gifted politicians of the last half-century).

I always thought Clinton's political talents were overrated. One could make the argument that running as an incumbent President at a time of peace and prosperity, you should win by at least 10% and easily clear 400 EV's.  

He didn't even get to 50% of the vote.
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« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2018, 10:35:30 am »

Even without Perot, Clinton would have been hard to beat in 1996. While many voters still didn't trust him, he had worked with Newt Gingrich to get welfare reform passed and had governed as a centrist. Also, people sensed that he cared; he also got high marks for his handling of the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. Yes, he was practically unbeatable (plus being one of the most gifted politicians of the last half-century).

I always thought Clinton's political talents were overrated. One could make the argument that running as an incumbent President at a time of peace and prosperity, you should win by at least 10% and easily clear 400 EV's.  

He didn't even get to 50% of the vote.
Interesting perspective. He did beat Dole by 8.5% and won 379 EV's.

Having lived at the time when the GOP was congratulating itself on having a lock on the EC (I had already graduated college at the time of the 1988 GE), I give Bill Clinton more credit than anyone for reviving the Democratic party. "In my day", as many older folks say, the Dems, whatever their successes downballot, were simply seen as weak and incompetent on the Presidential level (combining the elections of 1968-1988, the Dems received 679 EVs while the GOP received 2501). Since then, it has been fairly easy for a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama to make the Dems look good, or at least make the GOP look weak, incompetent, two-faced, extremist, or just plain evil (or all of the above), as the need arose.

Again, many voters simply did not trust Bill Clinton in 1996; his increase in the PV share between 1992 (42.95%) and 1996 (49.25%) (a 6.3% increase) is noteworthy, exceeded in modern times only by Bush's 47.9% compared to Dole's 40.75% (a 7.15% increase). Even today, Dems know that any success or positive mention of the Clintons will make many conservatives angry.
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« Reply #24 on: June 23, 2018, 01:41:51 pm »

Even without Perot, Clinton would have been hard to beat in 1996. While many voters still didn't trust him, he had worked with Newt Gingrich to get welfare reform passed and had governed as a centrist. Also, people sensed that he cared; he also got high marks for his handling of the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. Yes, he was practically unbeatable (plus being one of the most gifted politicians of the last half-century).

I always thought Clinton's political talents were overrated. One could make the argument that running as an incumbent President at a time of peace and prosperity, you should win by at least 10% and easily clear 400 EV's.  

He didn't even get to 50% of the vote.
Interesting perspective. He did beat Dole by 8.5% and won 379 EV's.

Having lived at the time when the GOP was congratulating itself on having a lock on the EC (I had already graduated college at the time of the 1988 GE), I give Bill Clinton more credit than anyone for reviving the Democratic party. "In my day", as many older folks say, the Dems, whatever their successes downballot, were simply seen as weak and incompetent on the Presidential level (combining the elections of 1968-1988, the Dems received 679 EVs while the GOP received 2501). Since then, it has been fairly easy for a Bill Clinton or a Barack Obama to make the Dems look good, or at least make the GOP look weak, incompetent, two-faced, extremist, or just plain evil (or all of the above), as the need arose.

Again, many voters simply did not trust Bill Clinton in 1996; his increase in the PV share between 1992 (42.95%) and 1996 (49.25%) (a 6.3% increase) is noteworthy, exceeded in modern times only by Bush's 47.9% compared to Dole's 40.75% (a 7.15% increase). Even today, Dems know that any success or positive mention of the Clintons will make many conservatives angry.

The amount of people who cry about the illegitimacy of Trumpís election but are perfectly fine with Clinton getting 370 EVís out of 43% of the NPV is ironically humorous.
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