1992 with a good economy

So, let’s say the US economy was good in 1992, rather than being in a recession, but that everything else remained equal and unchanged: Who wins - Bush, Clinton or Perot?
Bush could still enjoy post-Gulf War popularity but would still be facing one of the most skillful campaigners in modern American electoral history (Clinton,) an electorate that was fatigued of the Republican Party after 12 years of GOP control of the White House, and growing liberalism. I think Perot might have still had the same support.
I think it becomes a 50-50 chance between Bush and Clinton, both equally likely to win. It might be a very narrow electoral outcome, almost like 2000.

It’s hard to say. Given economy and incumbency, a generic Dem should have lost to Bush by a thin margin (and won 49.1% of the vote). In the real world Clinton won 53.5% of the 2 party vote. But was that due to his political skills or was it Perot? I understand that Perot drew support from both sides, but more from Bush than Clinton.

Clinton: 43.0% Bush: 37.5% Perot: 18.9%

Clinton’s political skills might be exaggerated incidentally. According to the Fair model a generic Democrat would have won 53% of the vote in 1996. Clinton beat that by 1.8 percentage points. That’s pretty good, but not outstanding. I agree that Bill Clinton’s ability to convey complicated policy ideas to the general public is unmatched.

Fair model: http://fairmodel.econ.yale.edu/
I’m using a spreadsheet with data through 2008 here.

It was really not the economy so much as its perceived vector. If the voters feel optimistic, the Ins win, pessimistic and the Outs win. If things are not so good but improving, the incumbent party still has a good chance at it.

Incidentally, the economy wasn’t technically in recession during 1992. The recession began in Jul 1990 and ended in March 1991. In 1992 the economy was in recovery, growing by 3.6%. Unemployment was still too high though: I found it odd that GWBush didn’t push for a stimulus package unlike Reagan, Nixon and Ford.

This won’t let me link directly to the table:

ETA: I haven’t read the Perot myth thread. It’s probably relevant here.

If you look at the state-by-state totals, both Clinton and Bush tended to win their states by fairly large margins, like 5 percent or more. Bush would have needed to take 101 electoral votes from Clinton to turn the election. Even if he had won Ohio, New Jersey and Georgia, the big electoral states he lost narrowly, he still would have been more than 50 electoral votes short.

I called it for Clinton. Three straight terms for the GOP plus an extraordinary candidate means Clinton wins. Perot wouldn’t even have run.


The economy may not have been as bad as it was prior, but unemployment was still high. Remember, Clinton made the “it’s the economy stupid” thing his rally cry. It made Bush and the Republicans seem uncaring and incompetent. It was a huge factor.

Before the economy took a dump Bush had huge approval ratings, at one point hitting 90%.

The 1992 election was kind of a perfect storm for Democrats:

*Unemployment was up.
*Lee Atwater had died
*Clinton was, IMHO, a good campaigner
*Perot stuck his nose in taking votes from both sides but I think more from Republicans.

Minus the biggest issue, the economy, and I say Bush get’s reelected quite easily.

how do you “think more from Republicans” or “more from Bush than Clinton” when the empirical data shows that not to be the case?

That’s very true.

Here it is; also worth a look is this article (first time I’ve seen a conservative bash the myth) and his data comes from this.

But that is not considering the OP “if the economy was good in 1992”. In 1988 Bush won many of the states Clinton won in 1992. Replace 1992’s economy with a better one, Clinton doesn’t win many of the states he did.

He was refuting the myth that in 1992 as the year was, that Perot “spoiled” a Bush win, because its a widespread lie in flagrant contradiction to available empirical evidence.

Talking about “if 1992 had a good economy” is like talking about “if 1980 had low inflation and interest rates and no hostage crisis.”

But that is what the OP is asking. It’s a 'what If" discussion of a variable, and an interesting thing to do on these boards every now & then, Mr. Buzz Killington.

Bush ran a pretty bad campaign for a sitting president. He allowed Pat Buchanan to set a pretty ugly tone for the convention, calling for a religious and cultural war along with numerous attacks on Hilary Clinton. He picked up the nickname Chicken George for avoiding scheduling the debates. He used the successful 1988 tactic of calling Clinton a liberal, which didn’t work in 1992. It was easy enough to hang the label on the 1988 Dukakis,who looked the type. But Dukakis looked like the guy who told you to eat your broccoli while Clinton was the McDonalds type.

I think the missing thing is: with a great economy, Bush doesn’t need to reneg on his “Read my lips; no new taxes” campaign pledge. Without that broken promise around his neck, he does far better.

I remember that one of the big rallying cries of the Democrats was that we needed a change after 12 years of GOP presidents. To the point where many of my classmates were voting for Clinton solely on that basis alone- they were absolutely convinced that we needed change for change’s sake. Sort of Obama-esque, now that I’m thinking about it.

Beyond that, Bush was a Cold Warrior and product of that era in a way that Clinton wasn’t. At that time, the world was undergoing fairly serious change, and in the US anyway, the end of the Cold War was sort of like letting the cap off the Coke bottle. There was a lot of optimism and eagerness at that time- the world was changing for the better, and we (the US) had won, and we were at the forefront of this change. Clinton in many ways rode the crest of that feeling into office against a guy who represented the Cold War era and Cold War thinking, and who seemed more like someone’s dad or grand-dad, while Clinton came across as a cool uncle, to use family metaphors.

I went with Clinton, his presidency turned out to be mostly pretty good, especially domestically and in terms of the economy.

But I thank God I was only five going on six at the time, and not the age I am now. Bush from what I gather seemed average and Perot was just annoying by watching the debate videos on YouTube.

Come to think of it, I think one of the biggest reasons that hurt Bush was because if you look at those suburban voters and states Clinton permanently took away from the GOP (as CA, NJ, MI, IL, PA, etc. were last in the GOP column in 1988), many of them were wealthy and may have been voting on tax cuts alone before Bush I reneged. Since they were also socially liberal (def more than Bush Sr.'s stronger 1988 states), they may have figured “if he’s with the Democrats on taxes, then we’ll just vote on the social issues” and Bush ran far to the right on social issues in 1992. Aside from the bad economy in 1992, Clinton convinced them that Dems could be trusted with the economy, unlike with Jimmy Carter, and they continued voting Dem.

One of the things I’ve mused about is how Clinton managed to put so many states in the blue column and keep them there.

We don’t often think of Bill Clinton as a transformational President, but the electoral map says he was.

You’ve just answered why the GOP hates the Clintons so much, and did in the 1990s. It wasn’t even for the same reasons as Obama (cultural). I don’t buy that they didn’t like him mainly because he was an adulterous draft dodger (like Gingrich, Dan Quayle, W., Trump, etc. were too one or both of those too, and btw Reagan did not serve in combat). I do think with Obama, his sympathies for Islam provide more genuine dislike than Clinton’s things.

Republicans sought to destroy Billary because they knew that the Clintons were the biggest threat to them electorally in the long term since Franklin Roosevelt. LBJ’s landslide proved itself to be one-off. JFK won by a hair, and Truman was a FDR continuation. Carter was, well, Jimmy Carter. And in the last 25 years, most Republicans convinced themselves of the Perot myth, tho I think that was to a. save face, b. rally the demoralized troops of 1992, and c. help the Bush family stay popular enough amongst Republicans. And of course d., the discredit the Clintons in the eyes of his party, thus to try to get them to push him aside, so the Republicans could win again.

Clinton did to the Rockerfeller Republicans what Nixon did to the Dixiecrats; destruction thru absorbtion.

I suspect Bush would win. He’d have the triumph of Gulf War I in his favor and no scandals of note. A good economy benefits the incumbent. But I still would’ve voted for Clinton because (a) I’m a Democrat (b) 12 consecutive years is enough for any party to hold the White House and © I still hadn’t forgiven Bush (and Lee Atwater) for Willie Horton, the Pledge of Allegiance, Boston Harbor etc.

A big NYT political analysis after the 1992 campaign showed that the only state in which Perot made an Electoral College difference was Maine. Had it not been for Perot, Bush would’ve carried the state - but still would’ve lost the election.