Finding the Real Center: Lessons of the 1996 Elections

Finding the Real Center: Lessons of the 1996 Elections

In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected president with 43 percent of the vote. In 1994, the Democratic congressional coalition collapsed and the Democrats were swept out of power in the House and the Senate. At that point, many said that President Clinton was a goner: he’d never be re-elected in 1996. Yet he not only was re-elected, he also bettered his showing over 1992, attracting 49 percent of the popular vote.

How did this remarkable swing take place? And what does it mean for the political future?

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