USA. According to
Countryaah.com, political life in the United States in 1996 was
dominated by the November 5 elections. In addition to the
president and vice-president, one-third of the Senate, the
entire House of Representatives and a wide range of state
and local officials were elected.
In the presidential election, on the Democratic side,
Bill Clinton as incumbent president was the self-signed
candidate, while a number of candidates signed up among
Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas, who
was now seeking his party's nomination for presidential
candidate for the third time, was the leader, but he was
challenged from the right by Pat Buchanan, who won the
primary in New Hampshire Feb. 20, and by multimillionaire
Steve Forbes, who won primary election in Arizona February
27. Other Republican candidates were former Tennessee
Governor Lamar Alexander and Texas Senator Phil Gramm. By
the end of March, however, it was clear that Dole had won
the nomination, following a series of clear victories in the
primary elections across the United States, and all
challengers except Buchanan withdrew their names.
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, opinion polls
gave President Clinton a secure lead over his challengers,
often by more than ten percentage points. In June, Dole
resigned as senator and majority leader to devote himself
entirely to his candidacy, which did not seem to help his
cause, and the entire campaign became quite paralyzed.
Instead, much of the interest came from whether Democrats
could regain control of one or both chambers of Congress.
When the votes were counted, Clinton had won safely with
379 electoral votes against Doles 159. Of voters, Clinton
got 49%, Dole 41%, and Perot 8%.
In the congressional elections, however, Republicans
retained control in both the Senate (55 vs. 45, a two-seat
increase) and in the House of Representatives (227 vs.
207.1, a three-seat reduction). Voter turnout in the
presidential elections was the lowest in decades, just under
The end of the election shows Clinton's skill as a
politician, as his chances for reelection were considered
very small after the 1994 midterm elections when Republicans
took control in Congress. The relatively good US economy,
the fact that Republicans succeeded in dominating Newt
Gingrich's right wing and the inherent advantage that a
presidential office provides are other important
explanations for Clinton's victory.
The US economy performed well in 1996. Inflation remained
at a low level - below 3% - and unemployment was just over
5%. In October, the Dow Jones index on the New York Stock
Exchange also reached an "all time high" and for the first
time exceeded 6,000.
The protracted budget battle between the president and
Congress, which meant layoffs of federal employees at the
end of 1995, were finally finalized in January. It is also
clear that the question of how pensions and healthcare
should be financed in the future is among the most important
economic-political issues in the United States today.