Election of 1992: Democrats recapture the Center

The election of 1992 marked the effort by the Republican Party to extend is 12-year hold on the White House, the Democrats to bring their image more towards the center, and an independent push by billionaire H. Ross Perot of Texas to focus the debate on the national debt.

Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan ran against Bush in the primaries. The conservative wing of the Republican Party was displeased with Bush's failure to keep his promise of no new taxes, and the pressure from Buchanan was one of the causes of Bush's shift farther to the right. Buchanan achieved 38% of the vote in New Hampshire's early primary, and never seriously challenged again.

The 1992 Republican national convention was held in the Astrodome in Houston, Texas, from August 17 to August 20. Bush was easily renominated, along with his vice-president Dan Quayle. Pat Buchanan addressed the convention with a speech emphasizing the conservative position on social issues, which alienated some moderates.

The main competitors for the 1992 Democratic nomination for president were Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas, former senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts, and former governor Jerry Brown of California. Clinton identified himself as an experienced administrator in a conservative Southern state, and thus the best positioned to broaden the Democratic appeal to centrist voters.

Tsongas was a more orthodox liberal, won the New Hampshire primary next door to his home state of Massachusetts, but faded early. Jerry Brown became the principal opponent to Clinton, and at one point seemed ready to challenge him for the lead. However, he made comments prior to the New York primary to the effect that he would consider naming Jesse Jackson as his vice-presidential running mate. Jackson was widely loathed in the Jewish community and Brown's comments cost him much of their support. He subsequently lost in Wisconsin narrowly and by a wide margin in New York.

Up until the California primary, Brown still felt that with a victory in his home state, he could deny Clinton a first-round nomination at the convention and perhaps become the choice on later ballots. However, Clinton carried California and effectively ended the campaign for the Democratic nomination.

At the 1992 Democratic national convention, held in New York City in mid July, the Democrats nominated Bill Clinton for president an Al Gore for vice-president. Jerry Brown got his chance to address the convention by seconding his own nomination.

The third element of the 1992 election campaign was H. Ross Perot, who had made his fortune in data processing services. Perot appeared on "Larry King Live" on February 22, 1992, and said that if his supporters could put him on the ballot in all 50 states, he would run as an independent. During the subsequent primary season, his polling numbers rose and at one point in the summer, he seemed to be favored by the voters. However, he dropped out of the race, citing various personal issues.

He re-entered at the beginning of October and spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money on the campaign, including buying 30-minute spots to promote his analysis of national policy issues.

On election day, November 3, 1992, the Democratic ticket of Clinton and Gore won a plurality of the popular vote but not an absolute majority. However, they easily outdistanced Bush and Quayle in the Electoral College. Perot managed almost 19% of the popular vote but earned no electoral votes.

Little changed in terms of control in Congress. Democrats picked up a seat in the Senate and lost nine in the House, but maintained a comfortable majority in each case.

Election of 1992
Candidates
Party Electoral
Vote
Popular
Vote
Bill Clinton (AR)
Al Gore (TN)
Democratic 370 44,909,326
George H.W. Bush (TX)
Dan Quayle (IN)
Republican 168 39,103,882
H. Ross Perot (TX)
James B. Stockdale (IL)
Independent ... 19,741,657


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Quotes regarding Election of 1992: Democrats recapture the Center.

By Hillary Rodham Clinton
I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.

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