Could Dole have won the 1996 election?

Is there any way that Bob Dole could have actually won in 1996 ? Compared to the youthful Clinton, Dole appeared to be a senile old man rambling about the Brooklyn Dodgers. Dole didn’t carry any states beyond the solid red states.

I think you just answered your own question.

A more interesting question is but for the 22nd Amendment, could Clinton have won the 2000 election?

I recall people saying about Dole after the 1996 election much the same as they said about Gore after the 2000 election: that if he had shown the same sense of humor, likeability, and informality during the campaign that he showed he had after the election, he would have done much better.

It still probably wouldn’t have been enough to beat Clinton, though.

The hell of it, though, is that Dole was always a very likable and witty guy. Downside is that he appeared dour and pissy in every run for elected office above Senator. Not sure if that came about because of his handlers, or if he actively chose that persona.

And in answer to the OP: Not a chance in hell. In addition to his own issues, Clinton was just too damned likable.

And ladies dig a guy that can play sax.

All history looks foreordained in retrospect, and certainly there is an entrenched caricature of Bob Dole as a textbook grumpy old man. But let’s not forget that Clinton was just two years removed from a massive repudiation in the 94 midterms, had been defeated on his biggest policy initiative (national health care) and was awash in plenty of pre-Monica scandals (Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Travelgate, etc).

I’d argue that Clinton’s reelection wasn’t because he seemed more youthful than Dole (remember Reagan’s line from the 84 election: “I promise not to take advantage of my opponent’s youth and inexperience”) but was due to a humming economy and Clinton’s movement to the center in the wake of the midterms (“Era of big government is over”, signing welfare reform, etc).

Given his approval ratings in the 60’s, why not?

Dole could have won had Clinton vetoed the welfare reform bill. Or had the Republican Congress not passed welfare reform, but once Congress passed & Clinton signed welfare reform the election was over.

What if Perot had not run?

Perot was a non-entity in the 1996 election, or at least he didn’t have the impact that he did in 1992.

Could Mondale have won the 1984 election?

It’s always a big challenge to unseat an incumbent when the economy seems to be doing all right.

When asking if someone could have accomplished something that they didn’t accomplish, it is customary to add a hypothetical variable.

Could Dole have won in 1996? The answer is obviously No.

Could Dole have won in 1996 if he had a spider-monkey on his shoulder during every speech? Maybe.

With a spider monkey? I doubt it. Now, if he had one of those cute little capuchin monkeys, I think his odds would have increased.

I believe it was an SNL skit with GHW Bush talking to Bob Dole (Dana Carvey and Norm McDonald respectively).

“You Bob are the crazy old man down the street who keeps the kids’ football. Bill is the cool uncle who will buy them beer while they are underage. You’re going to get beat Bob, you’re going to get beat bad.”

I don’t think Dole had any chance from the get-go. Clinton was too good a campaigner, since he basically never did anything else. And Dole was too used to being in the minority.

Dole just got nominated because it was his turn - not because he was any radical difference from the status quo of Clinton, but because he was the last man standing after the primaries. Sort of similar, IOW, to Bush Sr., who got elected because the voters were hoping for another four years of Reagan, but who got beat because he didn’t have any real vision for his Presidency.

Clinton is/was a slimeball, but he is/was a genius at politics. Dole wasn’t in his class, and probably would have done no better than Bush Sr.


For 20 minutes.