Clinton had regained 5% of the vote over Bush following the second debate, according to a poll by the New York Times (McGuire & Craig, A1).
Part of the problem, according to political advisors, was that Bush still refused to believe that an economic recovery was not occurring. Despite higher unemployment and the lowest interest rates since the Kennedy presidency, Bush repeatedly noted, both in the debates and in speeches, that an economic recovery was on the way, without additional steps being needed. This meant that even though Clinton's platform was based on too familiar ideas, such as raising taxes on the wealthy, careful closing of loopholes, and an emphasis on investment, those ideas were still more powerful than the Bush campaign's economic reform, which didn't exist (Henderson, Opinion, 18).
Even with the obvious differences in economic policy, the Bush campaign was still very much in the running. With only nine days left before the elections, the Herald American's poll of 449 register voters showed Clinton with 34% of the vote, and Bush with 33% of the vote. With a margin of error at 4.6%, the race was as closely tied as it had ever been (McGuire & Craig, A1).
Until he very end, there were many who still believed Bush would win the election, based on his handlings of the Iraq war, and his proven foreign policy. Citing Clinton's overzealous promises of spending billions to generate job growth, his overambitious promise of affordable health care for all, and his overly optimistic concepts of providing a college education for everyone, political analysts continued to hold out hope for Bush's reelection. Additionally, the analysts noted Clinton's lack of military experience, and his lack of a firm decision on the Iraq issue, which Bush obviously excelled in (Union Leader, B3).
By the November election, the race was too close to call. While Clinton's economic platform would sway many, Bush's campaign of trust and experience, combined with his lingering popularity over the Iraq war, was still pushing him forward in the polls. The independent, Ross Perot, was a wild card that could pull enough votes from either side to cause an upset.
The Clinton strategy worked. When the votes were tallied, Clinton had won the election with only 43% of the popular vote. Bush had managed a close 37.4%, and Perot had come through with 18.9%. The electoral college, an often debated topic in U.S. government, tallied 379 votes for Clinton, 168 for Bush, and non-for Perot, making the election appear far more successful for Clinton that the reality of the popular vote (Washington Post, online). Had Perot not been in the race, and had he not been as popular, no one can say what the results may have been.
The election of 1992 was one of the closest elections in recent memory. In a completely new political climate with no cold war, no "Soviet" threat, no nuclear threat, economic instability in a post war society, and with an incumbent whose popularity had, only a year earlier, been at 80%, the race was bound to be interesting. There can be no question that Bush was a difficult competitor. But as Bill Clinton stated in his book, My Life, "By the end of 1986, I had formed some basic convictions about the nature of the modern world, which was later developed into the ... New Democratic philosophy ... " (Clinton, My Life, p. 326). It was this New Democratic philosophy, with an infallible economic platform, that allowed the Clinton election staff to succeed in winning the presidential race of a generation.
Clinton, Bill. My Life. New York: Knopf, 2004.
Gallup Organization. "Timeline of Polling History: Events that Shaped the United States, and the World." The Gallup Organization. 2005. The Gallup Organization. 21 March 2005. .
Henderson, Hazel. "Retooling Budgets, Taxes." Christian Science Monitor 31 July 1992, Opinion 18.
Kranish, Michael. "Clinton Lists Steps on Economy, May Modify Some Plans." Boston Globe 13 Nov 1992, A1.
McGuire, Dan, & Craig, Jon. "Local Clinton Support Slips to Perot, Creating a Tight Race." Associated Press 31 July 1992, A1.
Rosenthal, Michael. "On My Mind; It's the Economy, Stupid." Boston Globe 30 Oct 1992, A31.
Union Leader. "Look for Bush to Win Re-Election on Tuesday." The Union Leader 1…