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The United States presidential elections of 1992 featured a battle between incumbent President Republican George H. W. Bush; Democrat Bill Clinton, the Governor of Arkansas; and independent candidate Ross Perot, a Texas businessman. Bush had alienated much of his conservative base by breaking his 1988 campaign pledge against raising taxes, the economy was in a recession, and Bush's perceived greatest strength, foreign policy, was regarded as much less important following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the relatively peaceful climate in the Middle East after the defeat of Iraq in the Gulf War. Clinton won a plurality in the popular vote, and a wide U.S. Electoral College margin. Perot would come in at a strong third place finish with 26% of the popular vote and would win more states but not electoral votes than second place finisher George H. W. Bush.
Republican Party nomination
- President George H. W. Bush of Texas
- Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan of Virginia
Conservative journalist Pat Buchanan was the primary opponent of President Bush. However, Buchanan's best showing was in the New Hampshire primary on 2/18/1992 - where Bush won by a 53-38% margin. President Bush won 73% of all primary votes, with 9,199,463 votes. Buchanan won 2,899,488 votes; unpledged delegates won 287,383 votes, and Duke won 119,115 votes. Just over 100,000 votes were cast for all other candidates, half of which were write-in votes for H. Ross Perot.
President George H. W. Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle easily won renomination by the Republican Party. However, the success of the conservative opposition forced the moderate Bush to move further to the right than in 1988, and to incorporate many socially conservative planks in the party platform. Bush allowed Buchanan to give the keynote address at the Republican National Convention in Houston, and his culture war speech alienated many moderates. David Duke also entered the Republican primary, but performed poorly at the polls.
With intense pressure on the Buchanan delegates to relent, the tally for president went as follows:
- George H. W. Bush 2166
- Pat Buchanan 18
- former ambassador Alan Keyes 1
Vice President Dan Quayle was renominated by voice vote.
Democratic Party nomination
- Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas
- Former Governor Jerry Brown of California
- Former Senator Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts
- Senator Bob Kerrey of Nebraska
- Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa
- Governor Douglas Wilder of Virginia
After the successful performance by U.S. and coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War, President George H. W. Bush's approval ratings were 89%. His re-election was considered very likely. As a result, several high profile candidates such as Mario Cuomo refused to seek the Democratic Nomination for President. In addition, Senator Al Gore refused to seek the nomination due to the fact his son was struck by a car and was undergoing extensive surgery as well as physical therapy. However, several candidates such as Tom Harkin, Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown, Bob Kerrey, and Bill Clinton chose to run.
U. S. Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa) ran as a populist liberal with labor union support. Former U.S. Senator Paul Tsongas (Massachusetts) highlighted his political independence and fiscal conservatism. Former California Governor Jerry Brown, who had run for the Democratic nomination in 1976 and 1980 while he was still Governor, declared a significant reform agenda, including Congressional term limits, campaign finance reform, and the adoption of a flat income tax. Nebraska Senator Bob Kerrey was an attractive candidate based on his business and military background, but made several gaffes on the campaign trail. Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton positioned himself as a centrist, or New Democrat. He was still relatively unknown nationally before the primary season. That quickly changed however, when a woman named Gennifer Flowers appeared in the press to reveal allegations of an affair. Clinton rebutted the story by appearing on 60 Minutes with his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The primary season began with U. S. Senator Tom Harkin winning his native Iowa as expected. Paul Tsongas of Massachusetts won the primary in New Hampshire on February 18 but Clinton's second place finish, helped by his speech labeling himself “The Comeback Kid," energized his campaign. Jerry Brown won the Maine caucus and Bob Kerrey won South Dakota. Clinton won his first primary in Georgia. Tsongas won the Utah and Maryland primaries and a caucus in Washington. Harkin won caucuses in Idaho and Minnesota while Jerry Brown won Colorado. Bob Kerrey dropped out two days later. Clinton won the South Carolina and Wyoming primaries and Tsongas won Arizona. Harkin dropped out. Jerry Brown won the Nevada caucus. Clinton swept nearly all of the Super Tuesday primaries on March 10 making him the solid front runner. Clinton won the Michigan and Illinois primaries. Tsongas dropped out after finishing 3rd in Michigan. Jerry Brown, however, began to pick up steam, aided by using a 1-800 number to receive funding from small donors. Brown scored surprising wins in Connecticut, Vermont and Alaska. As the race moved to the primaries in New York and Wisconsin, Brown had taken the lead in polls in both states. Then he made a serious gaffe by announcing to an audience of New York City's Jewish community that, if nominated, he would consider the Reverend Jesse Jackson as a Vice-Presidential candidate. Jackson, who had made a pair of anti-Semitic comments about Jews in general and New York City's Jews in particular while running for president in 1984, was still a widely hated figure in that community and Brown's polling numbers suffered. Clinton won dramatically in New York (41%-26%) and closely in Wisconsin (37%-34%). Clinton then proceeded to win a long streak primaries leading up to Jerry Brown's home state of California. Clinton won this primary 48% to 41% and secured the delegates needed to clinch the nomination.
The convention met in New York City, and the official tally was:
- Bill Clinton 3,372
- Jerry Brown 596
- Paul Tsongas 289
- Robert P. Casey 10
- Pat Schroeder 5
- Larry Agran 3
- Al Gore 1
Clinton chose U.S. Senator Albert A. Gore Jr. (D-Tennessee) to be his running mate on July 9, 1992. Choosing fellow Southerner Gore went against the popular strategy of balancing a Southern candidate with a Northern partner. Gore did serve to balance the ticket in other ways, as he was perceived as strong on family values and environmental issues, while Clinton was not. Also, Gore's similarities to Clinton allowed him to push some of his key campaign themes, such as centrism and generational change.
The public's concern about the federal budget deficit and fears of professional politicians allowed the independent candidacy of billionaire Texan Ross Perot to explode on the scene in dramatic fashion - at one point Perot was leading the major party candidates in the polls. Perot crusaded against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), internal and external national debt, tapping into voters' potential fear of the deficit. His volunteers succeeded in collecting enough signatures to get his name on the ballot in all 50 states. In June, Perot led the national public opinion polls with support from 39% of the voters (versus 31% for Bush and 25% for Clinton). Perot severely damaged his credibility by dropping out of the presidential contest in July and remaining out of the race for several weeks before re-entering. He compounded this damage by eventually claiming, without evidence, that his withdrawal was due to Republican operatives attempting to disrupt his daughter's wedding. Never the less, Perot would continue to move up in polling again.
After Bill Clinton secured the Democratic Party's nomination in the spring of 1992, polls showed Ross Perot leading the race, followed by President Bush, with Clinton in third place after a grueling nomination process. But as the economy continued to grow sour, the President's approval rating continued to slide, and the Democrats began to rally around their nominee. On July 9, 1992, Clinton chose Tennessee Senator and former 1988 Presidential candidate Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. to be his running mate. As Governor Clinton's nomination acceptance speech approached, Ross Perot dropped out of the race, convinced that staying in the race with a "revitalized Democratic Party" would cause the race to be decided by the U.S House of Representatives[Category:Liberia, USA]]acceptance speech on July 17, 1992, promising to bring a "new covenant" to America, and to work to heal the perceived gap that had developed between the rich and the poor during the Reagan/Bush years. The Clinton campaign received the biggest convention "bounce" in history which brought him from 25 percent in the spring, behind Bush and Perot, to 55 percent versus Bush's 31 percent.
After the convention, Clinton and Gore began a bus tour around the United States, while the Bush/Quayle campaign, in panic mode, began to hammer at Clinton's character, highlighting accusations of infidelity and draft dodging. The Bush campaign emphasized its foreign policy successes such as Desert Storm, and the end of the Cold War. Bush also contrasted his military service to Clinton's lack thereof, and criticized Clinton's lack of foreign policy expertise. However, as the economy was the main issue, Bush's campaign floundered across the nation, even in strongly Republican areas, and Clinton maintained leads with over 50 percent of the vote nationwide consistently, while Bush typically saw numbers in the upper 30s. As Bush's economic edge had evaporated, his campaign looked to energize its socially conservative base at the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas. At the Convention, Bush's primary campaign opponent Pat Buchanan gave his famous "culture war" speech, hammering at Clinton and Gore's social progressiveness, and voicing skepticism on his "New Democrat" brand. After President Bush accepted his renomination, his campaign saw a small bounce in the polls, but this was short lived, as Clinton maintained his lead. The campaign continued with a lopsided lead for Clinton through September, until Ross Perot decided to re-enter the race Ross Perot's re-entry in the race was welcome by the Bush campaign, as Fred Steeper, a poll taker for Bush, said, "He'll be important if we accomplish our goal, which is to draw even with Clinton." Initially, Perot's return saw the Texas billionaire's numbers stay low, until he was given the opportunity to participate in a trio of unprecedented three-man debates. The race narrowed, as Perot's number's significantly improved as Clinton's number's declined, while Bush's numbers remained more or less the same from earlier in the race as Perot and Bush began to hammer at Clinton on character issues once again. As the Perot camp saw in polls that there support was now about 21%, this would have disifranchised conservatives begin to move to Perot, hurting Bush's numbers and soon an all out brawl would consume the campaign as desperation was in the air.
Many character issues were raised during the campaign, including allegations that Clinton had dodged the draft during the Vietnam War, and had used marijuana, which Clinton claimed he had pretended to smoke, but "didn't inhale." Bush also accused Clinton of meeting with communists on a trip to Russia he took as a student. Clinton was often accused of being a philanderer by political opponents.
Allegations were also made that George H. W. Bush had engaged in a long-term extramarital affair with Jennifer Fitzgerald, who had been his secretary throughout the 1970s. Bush denied ever having an affair with Fitzgerald.
- Clinton/Gore - 40%
- Bush/Quayle - 33%
- Perot/Stockdale - 26%
Results by state
|1||Washington||Clinton / Gore||11|
|2||Oregon||Clinton / Gore||7|
|3||California||Clinton / Gore||54|
|4||Arizona||Clinton / Gore||8|
|5||Nevada||Perot / Stockdale||4|
|6||New Mexico||Clinton / Gore||5|
|7||Colorado||Clinton / Gore||8|
|8||Utah||Perot / Stockdale||5|
|9||Idaho||Perot / Stockdale||4|
|10||Montana||Perot / Stockdale||3|
|11||Wyoming||Perot / Stockdale||3|
|12||North Dakota||Perot / Stockdale||3|
|13||South Dakota||Clinton / Gore||3|
|14||Nebraska||Bush / Quayle||5|
|15||Kansas||Perot / Stockdale||6|
|16||Oklahoma||Bush / Quayle||8|
|17||Texas||Clinton / Gore||32|
|18||Louisiana||Clinton / Gore||9|
|19||Arkansas||Clinton / Gore||6|
|20||Mississippi||Bush / Quayle||6|
|21||Alabama||Bush / Quayle||9|
|22||Georgia||Clinton / Gore||13|
|23||Florida||Clinton / Gore||25|
|24||South Carolina||Bush / Quayle||8|
|25||North Carolina||Clinton / Gore||14|
|26||Virginia||Bush / Quayle||13|
|27||Tennessee||Clinton / Gore||11|
|28||Kentucky||Clinton / Gore||8|
|29||West Virginia||Clinton / Gore||5|
|30||Ohio||Clinton / Gore||21|
|31||Indiana||Bush / Quayle||12|
|32||Illinois||Clinton / Gore||22|
|33||Michigan||Clinton / Gore||18|
|34||Wisconsin||Clinton / Gore||11|
|35||Minnesota||Perot / Stockdale||10|
|36||Iowa||Clinton / Gore||7|
|37||Maine||Perot / Stockdale||4|
|38||Vermont||Clinton / Gore||3|
|39||New Hampshire||Clinton / Gore||4|
|40||Massachusetts||Clinton / Gore||12|
|41||Rhode Island||Clinton / Gore||4|
|42||Connecticut||Clinton / Gore||7|
|43||New York||Clinton / Gore||33|
|44||Pennsylvania||Clinton / Gore||23|
|45||New Jersey||Clinton / Gore||15|
|46||Delaware||Clinton / Gore||3|
|47||Maryland||Clinton / Gore||10|
|48||Missouri||Clinton / Gore||11|
|49||Alaska||Perot / Stockdale||3|
|50||Hawaii||Clinton / Gore||4|
|51||Washington D.C.||Clinton / Gore||3|
|52||Puerto Rico||Clinton / Gore||7|