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It's not a perfect reflection by any means, but there are some interesting parallels on the surface. A few strange things have coalesced that make the current presidential race compare to 1996. Read on.

-A Democratic incumbent, seen as vulnerable in the early stages, whom Rush Limbaugh deems a socialist.

-The GOP nominates someone relatively moderate (Dole/Romney), who has to placate the right wing by picking a more conservative policy-oriented Congressman (Kemp/Ryan).

-Newt Gingrich is hemming and hawing about welfare reform, and otherwise stealing air from the rest of us.

-The Republicans in Congress stage a fight in the previous year about funding, with government shutdown looming (except it happened in '95).

-The midterms saw a GOP landslide, giving them control of Congress.

-It's the most expensive election in history.

-A fiery right winger (Buchanan/Santorum) wins early GOP primaries, but ultimately loses to the establishment pick later on.

-The previous president was named George Bush.

Just to name a few. Of course our military and economic situations were far different then, but some of the parallels are kind of strange. Please discuss!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (19+ / 0-)

    Best race ever - MI-AG(2002) - Cox vs. Peters. Either way it's just a bunch of dicks.

    by Arbo on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 08:11:16 PM PDT

  •  perhaps unrelated (8+ / 0-)

    but was there an uptick in right wing extremist activity in the four years after Clinton was elected, just as with Obama.


    Squidward: The noises! How are you two making those noises?

    Patrick: Well, that's easy. All you need is a box.

    SpongeBob: And...imagi~nation!

    by rexymeteorite on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 08:14:24 PM PDT

    •  Oh no, A Democrat! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Delilah, MJB, Delevie, terabthia2

      Hoard the guns! They're gonna take 'em all away!

      Best race ever - MI-AG(2002) - Cox vs. Peters. Either way it's just a bunch of dicks.

      by Arbo on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 08:15:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The UN black helicopters (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        are gonna take me to re-education camps and force multiculturalism on us all!

        that tears it. I am joining up with the whackados down the street who hoard guns, misspell their signs, and emphasize president obama's middle name too much.


        Squidward: The noises! How are you two making those noises?

        Patrick: Well, that's easy. All you need is a box.

        SpongeBob: And...imagi~nation!

        by rexymeteorite on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 08:20:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The one big difference... (8+ / 0-)

    ...but a crucial one is that the economy was perceived as doing much better in 1996 and Clinton had a comfortable 2-digit lead in most of the polling. His approval ratings were also in the 50s as opposed to Obama's which are in the 40s.

    Otherwise, I do agree there is much that is parallel between the two races.

  •  That's interesting (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, fritzi56, mconvente, Arbo

    Never thought of it that way. I figured it was more similar to 2004 since the current President's approval numbers are close to Dubya's and the minds of most voters were already  made up then too.

    It would be nice if this election were more similar to '96 economically, then Obama's poll numbers would be even stronger and his reelection would be even more convincing.

  •  Don't set your sights so low. (9+ / 0-)

    I'm thinking it could be another 1964.

    If the founding fathers thought corporations were people why didn't they just say so?

    by Notthemayor on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 08:27:13 PM PDT

  •  No Perot (0+ / 0-)

    to drag down the popular vote for Congress (it paralleled that for President which let him win reelection while the GOP still held the House despite losing some seats).

    •  Perot and Nader (0+ / 0-)

      … taught the right and left respectively in a very visceral way why game theory predicts a 2-party system as the only stable outcome of a winner-take-all electoral environment.

      Those who ignore the future are condemned to repeat it.

      by enigmamf on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 09:40:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  with the exceptions of britain, canada, india (0+ / 0-)

        and the US at several parts of its history, that is. with different ballot access laws, and better campaign finance restrictions, america would be rather similar to the other multiparty first past the post countries.

        •  The only (0+ / 0-)

          stable outcome. FPtP voting systems tend to produce exactly two powerful parties because that's just the most efficient way to divide power and resources. Third parties can play a spoiler role for a couple of cycles, but their support will inevitably evaporate away toward either pole. Take a look at the current polling for the Lib Dems, and you'll see that this is likely the last coalition government they'll be participating in for a long time. Occasionally a third party will supplant one of the major two (such as Labour replacing the Liberals last century), but a stable system in which three or more parties truly, actually share power under FPtP is just not very likely in the long term.

          •  the bigger factor (0+ / 0-)

            is the degree to which parties are regionally based or nationally based. regionally strong third parties can exist as significant third party ruling coalition members quite durably, where those coming in third everywhere will get nothing. in america, they've tended not to have strong local roots, unlike england or canada or india.

        •  with more... (0+ / 0-)

          than two parties, you would essentially never get a result in which more people voted for the winner than against them (you barely get that even now).

          If we had three more or less equally strong parties, we'd have "winners" who rarely get even 40% of the vote.

          As it is, it takes the Electoral College to make victories seem more substantial than they are.

          "It's almost as if we're watching Mitt Romney on Safari in his own country." -- Jonathan Capeheart

          by JackND on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 07:06:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  More similarities (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ekgrulez1, mrsgoo

    The democratic candidates first names both begin with B. One still believed in a place called Hope and the other still believed in hope and change. Both democrats were Ivy League educated intellects. Both republicans were light weights.

    The definition of INSANITY: Voting Republican over and over and over and expecting the economy to get better.

    by pollbuster on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 08:35:16 PM PDT

  •  Bob Dole (6+ / 0-)

    was more of an elder statesman who was being given his last hurrah. Nobody thought he had much of a chance to win, including him. I'm not sure Romney is quite in the same category. He is more of an outsider that the party is giving a chance to run because some of the more regular candidates don't think it is their year to win. In that way, Romney in 2012 is more like Clinton himself was in 1992, when the first George Bush was expected to win, and the perceived stronger candidates, like Cuomo, were sitting the election out because they did not think it was their year. So this year you have the supposedly stronger candidates like Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or Mitch Daniels sitting it out because they'd rather wait until 2016.

    I'm starting to think that 2012 is more like 1964 when the Republican Party was captured by the far right, and decided to give the far right a chance so they could fall on their face and let party control go back to the more moderate Republicans. I think some of the party regulars want the Tea party to fall on its face also. But this year is not going to be like the 1964 landslide either because the economy is still terrible, and Obama does not have as high a favorability rating as Johnson did in 1964.

  •  I don't trust 'em. (0+ / 0-)

    They've stolen election too many elections. I'm not inclined to believe most conspiracy theories, but I believe there is a "Vast Right Wing Conspiracy" and it will do anything it needs to in order to wield the reins if world power. It is hard for me to imagine such an organization, but how do they get so many people to swallow their bile? I'm just running my mouth now, I guess I needed that.  Thanks.

  •  Clinton was a strong leader gifted at working with (0+ / 0-)

    congress. His first Major piece of legislation reversed the Reagan tax cuts.

    The results were what you would expect when the cost of government is funded.

    I don't think the current environment parallels '96. We have taken a step backwards on the tax front on the last 4 years

  •  All new turf (0+ / 0-)

    In 1996, you had Ross Perot, who may have taken votes away from Clinton.  You also had a popular incumbent with relatively shallow coattails.  (And Dole figured out early on he was going to lose and worked to reduce the effect of those coattails.)

    In 2012, you have an incumbent with a weak economy who was completely hamstrung by a violently reactionary Republican party, who then put together a freak show and nominated a buffoon.  I'm not sure we're out of the woods after Obama gets re-elected (which is looking increasingly likely) because the R's will still be able to obstruct anything and will do so aggressively.

  •  It is generally the case that when an incumbent (0+ / 0-)

    President is running for reelection, the presumed top-tier candidates of the opposition party tend to sit the election out, so a second-tier candidate rises to the top who then typically fails to convince against the incumbent. So it was on our side in 2004, when Clinton, Gore, and Obama all decided to sit that one out and bite their time. (Of course Obama really was awfully green still, but people did already talk about him as a possible future candidate for the Presidency.) So it was on their side in 1996. The exception really was 1992, again on our side, when all the rising stars got into the game against Bush senior. That, I think, was an anomaly that had its roots in the particulars of the 1988 election.

    •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

      the 1992 Dems were not considered the top tier at the time.  Mario Cuomo was the Big Guy then, and he chose not to run.  We tend to forget that, at the time, Clinton was viewed as a womanizing governor of a small Southern state who had virtually no chance of winning.

      Most thought Bush was invincible because of the success of the 1st Gulf War and, thus, chose to ride the election out.  By the time the economy started tanking, it was too late for them to get in.

    •  Obama was still a state senator (0+ / 0-)

      in 2004. Leap-frogging from the Illinois state senate to the Presidency would have been quite the bold move!

  •  2004? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, mconvente, terabthia2

    In 2004, the nation was tepid on the way things were going, seemingly making the incumbent vulnerable.  In fact, the incumbent was absolutely despised by a large part of the voting public, who thought he was an idiot and/or a criminal who was absolutely destroying the country.  But the challenger, a aging rich white guy from Massachusetts with a decent resume but little charisma, just really didn't generate any enthusiasm for himself-- he was seen as an out-of-touch stiff.  So the election basically became a referendum on the incumbent... and taking advantage of the weak opposition, the incumbent won most of the swing states and therefore won reelection.

    •  The challenger failed to make a case for himself (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That's the 2004 parallel.

      Kerry didn't expand his voter pool much beyond the hardcore Bush haters and those who would always vote Dem.  He didn't build a group of voters who were enthusiastic about Kerry becoming president.

      Romney is the same way.  He's done nothing to appeal to any groups other than red-meat wingnuts and hardcore Obama haters.  As Boehner said a few weeks ago, the only people voting "for" Romney are friends, family, and Mormons.  All his other votes are anti-Obama votes.  That's not enough to put him over the top.  

      Maybe Romney realizes this and the desire to get "pro" votes and not just "anti" votes, along with the need to pander to the wingnuts and teahadists, is why he picked Lyin' Ryan.

      Please help to fight hunger with a donation to Feeding America.

      by MJB on Sun Aug 12, 2012 at 11:08:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bob Dole. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew F Cockburn

    7 letters. Clinton - 7 letters. Barack is 6 letters, the same as Romney. Paul Ryan is 8 letters. And Joe Biden is also 8 letters. This is all too strange to be a coincidence.

    •  Yep. (0+ / 0-)

      You went there!

      Best race ever - MI-AG(2002) - Cox vs. Peters. Either way it's just a bunch of dicks.

      by Arbo on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 03:59:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not only that, 1996 is divisible by 4. So is 2012. (0+ / 0-)

      Both were leap years and had the Summer Olympics.

      This is eerie.

      •  Well, except... (0+ / 0-)

        The will ALWAYS be these three things every four years: The Presidental Election, The Summer Olympics and Leap Year. :) :) (you could also have included the winter Olympics in that bunch, too, up to 1992.)

      •  You just blew my mind. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Andrew F Cockburn

        Not really. Love the sarcasm! I quite deliberately avoided the overtly obvious stuff like that in the original diary. But I knew someone out there would start counting letters.

        You can also say that the Chicago Cubs did not win the World Series.

        Best race ever - MI-AG(2002) - Cox vs. Peters. Either way it's just a bunch of dicks.

        by Arbo on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 10:07:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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