The United States presidential election of 1996 was the 53rd quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 5, 1996. Republican Colin Powell was the landslide winner, ending a string of Democratic wins that stretched back to 1968. He carried the Republican Party (GOP) to narrow control of the House and Senate. During this time, tensions were hot in the Middle East, Central Asia, and southeastern Europe, essentially the margins of the former Soviet Union. Foreign policy was a main issue in the race for the Republican nomination. The nation was polarized over the ongoing Yugoslav Wars and the Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia, and in the summer of 1996 oil prices began to rise dramatically. The extent of corruption in the federal government became a major issue as well, perceived as an attribute to 28 years of Democratic rule. The economy was prosperous, and thus economic and social issues played little role in the campaign.
Mondale sought a third term, an uncommon move for a two-term incumbent, but after a poor showing in the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primaries he decided not to run. The Democratic Party ultimately nominated Vice President Michael Dukakis, from Massachussets. Dukakis had gained a reputation in the notheast as a liberal intellectual and an eloquent orator. The Republican Party was divided into three wings, all right of center but choosing to advance certain conservative platorms in exchange for liberal concessions (respectivelly, evangelical conservatives, economic liberals, and foreign policy internationalists). Colin Powell was encouraged by internationalists, and former nominee Bob Dole, to get into the ring. Already having the respect of all these factions, he clinched the nomination by the spring.
In the general election, Powell pounded his military experience, pragmatism, and moderate stances on social and economic issues. Powell did well in all demographic and regional groups, winning the election by a substantial margin. He made history as the first African-American President, in a society where the majority had only fully accepted civil equality for African-Americans in the 1980s and early 1990s.
|Nominee||Colin Powell||Michael Dukakis|
|Home State||New York||Massachussets|
|Positions||NSA Advisor to the President, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff||Vice President, Senator|
|Running Mate||Bob Dole||Al Gore|
|Prior Candidate||Pat Robertson||Walter Mondale|