1996 Presidential Elections - History

1996 Presidential Elections - History

1996 Elections Dole vs Clinton

President Clinton did not face any opposition in his bid to be renominated by his party. Senator Dole of Kansas made his third bid to obtain the nomination of the Republican party. This time he was successful and defeated both magazine publisher Steve Forbes as well Pat Buchanan to receive the Republican nod.

By the time the 1996 election took place, the country was in the midst of an economic boom. Employment was rising, as was the stock market, and the internet boom had begun. Thus despite continued minor scandals revolving around his conduct, President Clinton remained extremely popular. Senator Dole turned out to be an ineffective campaigner. He was unable to connect with the American public. Furthermore, Dole age was an issue during the campaign. He was 73 and would have been the oldest president to take office if he had been elected.

Clinton became the first Democratic President since Franklin Roosevelt to be reelected for a full second term.

United States presidential election of 1996

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United States presidential election of 1996, American presidential election held on November 5, 1996, in which Democrat Bill Clinton was elected to a second term, defeating Republican Bob Dole, a former U.S. senator from Kansas.


Presidential election Edit

Democratic incumbent President Bill Clinton won re-election, defeating Republican former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas. Billionaire and 1992 independent presidential candidate Ross Perot of Texas, the nominee of the newly founded Reform Party, though performing strongly for a third party candidate and receiving 8.4% of the vote, was unable to replicate his 1992 performance.

Congressional elections Edit

Senate elections Edit

During the 1996 U.S. Senate elections, elections for all thirty-three regularly scheduled Class II Senate seats as well as special elections in Oregon and Kansas were held.

Republicans captured three seats in Alabama, Arkansas, and Nebraska, but lost two in Oregon (via a special election not held concurrently with the other Senate elections in November) and South Dakota.

House of Representatives elections Edit

During the 1996 House elections, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives as well as the seats of all non-voting Delegates from non-state districts were up for election that year. [2]

Democrats won the national popular vote for the House of Representatives by a margin of 0.1 percentage points and won a net gain of eight seats. [3] Nonetheless, Republicans retained control of the chamber.

Gubernatorial elections Edit

During the 1996 gubernatorial elections, the governorships of the eleven states and two territories were up for election.

Going into the elections, Republicans held the governorships of thirty-two states, Democrats held those of seventeen states, all territories, and the Mayorship of the District of Columbia, and one Governor was a member of neither party. Republicans won in West Virginia, but this was countered by a Democratic victory in New Hampshire. Thus, there was no net change in the balance of power.

Other statewide elections Edit

In some states where the positions were elective offices, voters elected candidates for state executive branch offices. These include lieutenant governors (though some were elected on the same ticket as the gubernatorial nominee), secretaries of state, state treasurers, state auditors, state attorneys general, state superintendents of education, commissioners of insurance, agriculture, or labor, and state judicial branch offices (seats on state supreme courts and, in some states, state appellate courts).

1996 Presidential Election Alternative

Many candidates entered the race, thses included Moderate Republican U.S. Senator of Kansas and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole was the front runner and was expected to win the nomination against underdog candidates such as the more conservative former Vicce President Dan Quayle and more centrist U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona.

This was expected as Democratic President Bill Clinton was very unpopular in his first two years in office, eventually leading to the Republican Revolution. Following these 1994midterm elections, many prominent candidates entered what would be a crowded field. However, as Clinton became more and more popular in his third year in office, many dropped out or decided not to run.

As early as 1994, there was much speculation over who would be the Republican nominee for the presidency in the 1996 election. National opinion polls showed the Republicans leading the Democrats in approval by 11 percentage points and Preisdent Clinton's approval ratings averaged at around 41-44%. Most political analyts predicted a very close election, possibly the closest since the 1960 Presidential Election. Riding off the momentum gained by the Republican take-over of Congress in 1994, the follwoing candidates announced their intentions to seek the Republican nomination by May of 1995:

  • Former Vice President of the United States, Dan Quayle
  • Senate Majority Leader, Bob Dole
  • United States Senator from Arizona, John McCain
  • Former United Nations Economic and Social Council ambassador, Alan Keyes
  • Conservative Columnist, Pat Buchanan
  • Former Governor of Tennessee, Lamar Alexander
  • Governor of California, Pete Wilson
  • Representative from California, Bob Dornan
  • Businessman from Ohio, Morry Taylor

Former U.S. Army Gen. Colin Powell was widely courted as a potential Republican nominee. However, on November 8, 1995, Powell announced that he would not seek the nomination. Former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney was touted by many as a possible candidate for the presidency, but he declared his intentions not to run in early 1995. Texas Governor George W. Bush was also urged by some party leaders to seek the Republican Party nomination, but opted against doing so.

The fragmented field of candidates debated issues such as a flat tax and other tax cut proposals, and a return to supply-side economic policies popularized by Ronald Reagan. More attention was drawn to the race by the budget stalemate in 1995 between the Congress and the President, which caused temporary shutdowns and slowdowns in many areas of federal government service.

National opinion polls showed that Dole was the national frount-runner and McCain and Buchanan were going back in forth for second place. Dan Quayle's campaign was in trouble, mostly for financial reasons, but he managed to finish fourth of fifth in most polls. By many political insiders Quayle was not seen as an "electable" candidate, mostly because of his connection with the Bush administration and several high-profile gaffes (such as when he spelled the word "potato" like "potatoe"). The first candidate in to resign from the race was Alan Keyes, who had a strong following from African-Americans in the party but was not showing up in most national polls. Most experts prediciting that Keyes would endorse either Dole or McCain, the two front-runners. However, when he withdrew from the race on November 6, 1995 he endorsed Quayle and made the maximum donation to his campaign.

The endorsement gained notable media attention and put the Quayle campaign in the spotlight, which helped him gain much needed support. Between November 1 and November 30, donations to the Quayle campaigned increased by almost 260%. Sensing a possible challenge from Quayle, the Dole campaign began attacking him on the campaign trail, trying to associate him with the failures of the Bush administration. Three major candidates, Dole, Quayle, and Buchanan, campaigned heavily in Iowa McCain did not campaign in Iowa and instead focused heavily in New Hampshire.

On February 12, the polls in the Iowa showed Dole and Quayle were neck-and-neck with Dole having outspent Quayle by almost a 2:1 margin. At 8:45 CST, the networks called the race for Quayle. The former Vice President and his family celebrated at victory with more than 500 hundred supporters. In his victory speech, Quayle said "The road back to decency in the White House begins here, tonight". The media was shocked by the caucus results, Dole had won the caucuses in 1988 and was expected to win in Iowa by a wide margin, Dole looked like an broken man when he gave his defeat speeeck in Iowa. After a Quayle's campaign meanwhile gained great momentum going in to New Hampshire. John McCain's forth-place finish was better than expected and the withdraw of Pete Wilson the next help his campaign greatly. After the caucuses Lamar Alexander withdrew from the race as well in support of Quayle.

In the 'Granite State' Quayle and John McCain fought it out for first place, In the end McCain's ability to pull Democrats into the GOP primary to vote for him won the day. After finising forth Dole withdrew from the race in favor of McCain. With Quayle's win in Iowa and McCain's in New Hampshire the two of them became the front-runners for the nomination.

On February 24, Quayle won in Delaware and prepaired for big showdown in South Carolina with McCain.

On February 27, Quayle won the Dakotas while McCain easily won his home state.

In South Carolina, Quayle and Buchanan battled for the conservative vote while McCain tried to united moderates and get Democrats to cross over. In the end, Quayle narrowly beat McCain by less than 2 points. After the Quayle was regarded as the front-runner.

Rest of the Primaries, Quayle won eveywere except New England (McCain won there). On March 13, Buchanan dropped out and on the 16th McCain did the same.

Rewriting Russian History: Did Boris Yeltsin Steal the 1996 Presidential Election?

Then Russian President Boris Yeltsin speaks with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during their meeting in the Kremlin on Dec. 31, 1999


A year ago, the tomes of Russia's official history got a little fatter thanks to President Dmitri Medvedev, who helped publish the letters of post-Soviet Russia's first President, Boris Yeltsin. In a foreword to the collection, Medvedev eulogized the founding father, who died in 2007, for creating "the base of a new Russian statehood, without which none of our future successes would be possible." But behind closed doors on Monday, during a meeting with opposition leaders, Medvedev reportedly offered another take on the official story. According to four people who were in the room, Medvedev stated, like a bolt from the blue, that Russia's first President did not actually win re-election in 1996 for his second term. The second presidential vote in Russia's history, in other words, was rigged.

With less than two weeks before Russia's next presidential election, this is not a random piece of trivia for the country's chattering class. It was Yeltsin, after all, who named Vladimir Putin as his chosen successor in 2000 to ease him into power. And it was Putin who did the same favor for Medvedev eight years later. So if the third link in this chain has admitted that the first link was a fraud, what does that make him? What does that make the entire system? What does that mean for Putin's campaign to win a third term as President?

When TIME reached the Kremlin for comment on Thursday, a source said he was not sure if Medvedev had said this or not. "The Kremlin obviously has an official position on the results of the 󞩼] elections: Yeltsin won," the Kremlin source said on condition of anonymity. "As for rumors to the contrary, the Kremlin has no official position." Indeed, neither Medvedev nor his press office have made any statement on the matter, which has not helped make the questions go away.

"If Yeltsin was not a legal President, how legal were his successors? How legal is Putin?" asked Boris Nemtsov, an opposition leader who attended the meeting with Medvedev. In an interview with TIME on Thursday, he said that Medvedev, while debating electoral laws with the activists, "took a pause and said, 'We all know that Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin did not win in 1996.'" Three other opposition figures who were at that meeting have separately confirmed in radio and television interviews that Medvedev said this.

According to their statements, the conversation went like this. After sitting down with the opposition activists, Medvedev was bombarded with complaints about a parliamentary election held in December. That vote, they told him, had been blatantly rigged by the United Russia party, which is led by Medvedev and Putin. The results must be scrapped, the oppositionists insisted, and a new election must take place to save the legitimacy of the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament. Based on ample evidence of vote rigging, Russia's opposition leaders have been making this demand for months now, and tens of thousands of Russians have rallied in the streets of Moscow to support them in calling for a parliamentary revote.

The phrase that Medvedev uttered in response "will go down in history," said Sergei Babkin, the leader of an opposition party, who was the first to reveal the details of the closed-door meeting during a radio interview the following day. "He brought up the presidential elections of 1996 and said, 'There is hardly any doubt who won [that race]. It was not Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin."

There has indeed been lots of speculation that dirty tricks were used that year to push Yeltsin past the post. The powerful oligarchs in Yeltsin's circle have said on the record before that their goal was to get Yeltsin a second term by any means necessary. By 1996, Russia's transition to capitalism had impoverished millions of people. The economic reforms known as "shock therapy" had caused hyperinflation, and Yeltsin had gotten himself entangled in a highly unpopular war with the separatist region of Chechnya. Meanwhile, the Communist Party candidate, Gennadi Zyuganov, was promising the people a return to the stability of the U.S.S.R. In the first round of voting, the two were neck and neck, with Yeltsin getting 35% against 32% for Zyuganov. Yeltsin narrowly won in a runoff vote with 53.8%.

So if anyone should be up in arms about Medvedev's alleged revelation, it should probably be Zyuganov. But the communist, who is currently running against Putin for the presidency, made no mention of the issue during a rambling campaign speech on Thursday. The only leader of his party to comment on the matter did not seem too upset about news and placed the burden of proof back on Medvedev. "Show us the documentation," Sergei Obukhov, a member of the party's central committee, told the news agency Novy Region. "We have no such information."

That is perhaps the most amazing thing about this purported scandal. Three days after it broke, it has practically disappeared from the headlines and never even made a blip on the state-run TV news. Even the opposition leaders who claim to have heard the historic slip seem sort of blasé about it. In Babkin's words, after Medvedev said that the 1996 election was rigged: "It was not discussed any further. It passed without comment."

The only chord of outrage has issued from the man who headed Yeltsin's re-election campaign that year, Anatoly Chubais, but it was outrage of a peculiar sort. "Were there violations in the campaign of 1996? Of course, there were," he wrote in his blog on Thursday. But they were not enough to change the final results, Chubais wrote. And besides, "When those who side with the ruling authorities say, 'Yes, our elections were fixed, but no more than usual,' they are putting themselves in a funny position." If the 1996 vote is dismissed as a fraud, he added, "then we automatically have to deem both of President Putin's terms illegitimate along with the presidency of Medvedev." In conclusion, Chubais suggested that everybody stop claiming that Yeltsin lost in 1996, because it just makes everyone look bad.

And that will likely be the outcome of Medvedev's meeting: a return to the authorized version of the past. There will certainly be no reversal of history. The stakes are simply too high, and to borrow Medvedev's phrase from his introduction to Yeltsin's collection of letters, "none of our future successes would be possible" without the system that Yeltsin built. So for now, the system is focusing on its next round of success. On March 4, Putin will be the odds-on favorite to win a third presidential term. The closest challenger, just like in 1996, is the Communist Party's Zyuganov, who will likely see a little bit of history repeating.

Election of 1996, United States (Reagan's Third Term)

The Election of 1996 was the 53rd quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 5, 1996.  The competition saw incumbent Republican Phil Gramm decisively defeat the Democratic nominee, former Astronaut and United States Senator from Ohio, John Glenn.  After Ronald Reagan had resigned on March 20, 1993 due to coming down with Alzehimer's Disease, Gramm had taken over and inherited some of Reagan's popularity after keeping the booming economy and seeing the country through the final closing conflicts of the Cold War.  He won another decisive victory, even though Glenn was popular as a space hero, Gramm used Reagan's techniques to help him get ahead, and received the full support of the Republican Party's conservative wing due to his actions against powerful unions. He also received votes from many moderate "Reagan Democrats."  The result was yet another Republican victory. The Republicans kept both the house and the Senate.

Environmental Issues in the 1996 Elections

Environmental organizations across the country leaped into the fray with targeted campaign strategies of their own Nationally, the Sierra Club began running its first independent expenditure television ads. These television spots were first seen in Oregon's January U.S. Senate race to replace Bob Packwood. The National League of Conservation Voters decided to oppose the "Dirty Dozen" candidates, those with the worst environmental records in congressional races across the country. In state and local races, environmental groups sought to flex their political muscles with campaigns to elect those in agreement with their stands on the environment.

The results of this flurry of campaign involvement have been decidedly mixed. The lesson of 1996, as it has been for decades, is that money provides access to legitimacy in a political campaign, but it cannot assure a victory. The Republicans targeted by labor won about 75 percent of their races. Although this has been touted as a failure for labor, when compared to an historical victory rate of greater than 90 percent for House incumbents, it can be seen as a victory. Candidates who received contributions from businesses had a higher success rate, but they faced relatively easy races. A characteristic of interest groups is that they give the bulk of their money to secure incumbents to garner favor for the coming season of governing, not the biennial season of campaigning. The same business groups that currently give to the powerful Republican committee chairs gave to the powerful Democratic committee chairs when the Democrats controlled the Congress.

The 1996 election also brought mixed results for environmental groups. Nationally, of the Dirty Dozen, seven lost, five won. The Sierra Club's independent expenditure campaign was not a major issue in any single race--it simply got drowned out by competing advertising campaigns.

Many of these campaign strategies and themes were tried first in Oregon. After Bob Packwood's resignation from the U.S. Senate in September 1995, Oregon became a testing ground for national campaign themes. Oregonians endured an incredible series of campaigns and elections from November 1995 through the 1996 presidential election.

Oregon's campaigns became a microcosm of the high points, the low points, and the confusing points for environmental groups entering into political campaigns. The Senate race for Bob Packwood's vacant seat in Oregon pitted Ron Wyden, a Portland Democrat who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981 through 1996, against Gordon Smith, a Republican from rural eastern Oregon, who served in the state senate from 1992 to 1996, the last two years as senate president.

Because Wyden and Smith both won their primaries relatively easily, environmental groups focused mainly on the special general election in late January 1996. Neither candidate was a particular friend of environmental causes. Wyden specialized in urban issues and issues affecting the elderly, both of great importance to his highly urban district in Portland. Smith owns a successful food processing plant in Pendleton with an inconsistent environmental record and took few stands on environmental issues during his term as a state senator. Environmental groups lined up against Smith, but not necessarily for Wyden. The Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters ran a series of independent television ads, aired primarily in the Portland area. These ads depicted Smith as a flagrant polluter, a flouter of the state's environmental laws, and a friend of anti-environmentalists. Smith had a difficult time countering these ads--they were highly visible, the electorate remembered them, and the facts in question were so complex that they defied simple counter messages.

However, the special Senate election took an interesting turn a few weeks before election day A union group ran a radio ad that accused Smith of murder because there had been industrial accidents in which employees died at his plant. In response, Wyden unilaterally placed a moratorium on negative advertising. Smith did not stop his negative ads, noting that the independent expenditure ads from environmental groups continued to run. Negative campaigning became the number one issue in the final weeks of the election, drowning out all other issues. Wyden won by 18,000 votes (about 1 percent).

The day after Wyden's win, an interesting phenomenon occurred at national media outlets. Unions, pro-choice groups, environmental groups, and senior citizens groups inundated the outlets with messages and faxes, all claiming credit for Wyden's win. However, there is no empirical evidence that any single group was responsible for putting Wyden over the top. Indeed, geography is a better explanation. Wyden won just enough votes in the Portland area to counter Smith's overwhelming victory in the more rural parts of Oregon.

Environmental groups entered the national political season energized by the Wyden victory. As polling across the country began to focus on hot issues in the 1996 election, it became clear that environmental concerns were among the top five influential election issues in all parts of the country. But these same polls also showed that embracing environmental issues would not necessarily make a difference for candidates without strong environmental records. The reason for this is simple--voters do not change their minds about issues they see as critical. In 1996, most pro-environment voters voted Democratic or not at all. Most of the opposition (Wise Use supporters, War on the West voters, multiple-use advocates) voted Republican or not at all.

This reaction mirrored a trend that had been going on for years within the national environmental groups. These groups tend to support Democrats overwhelmingly Among the national Dirty Dozen were eleven Republican targets and one Democrat. The Oregon Natural Resources Council supported twenty-two Democrats and one Republican for state and local offices. The old days of environmental issues crossing party lines are over. Environmental organizations are now JUSt one of the many Democratic interest groups playing partisan politics. Even business PACs give proportionately more to their putative opposition than environmental groups do (in 1996,35 percent to Democrats, 65 percent to Republicans).

Oregon again provides a wonderful case study of how the environment played in the 1996 general election. Environmental groups were concerned primarily with the senate race to replace retiring Mark Hatfield and with three ballot measures. The senate race pitted the same Gordon Smith (who lost to Wyden in January) against Democrat Tom Bruggere, a software company founder active on government commissions, but who had never run for elective office. The three key measures on a very crowded ballot were initiatives to repeal restrictions on bear and cougar hunting, to expand the Oregon bottle bill, and to prohibit live stock from entering polluted streams. The national environmental groups focused on the Senate race local environmental groups added the three ballot measures to their electoral activity.

Once again, environmental groups targeted Gordon Smith for what they saw as his weak environmental record. They highlighted his company's regulatory fines, his plant's water pollution, and his use of waste oil to reduce dust on dirt roads. Environmental groups applauded Tom Bruggere for creating a wetland on the campus of his high tech company The news media covered all of this with front page headlines. The National League of Conservation Voters ran independent expenditure ads targeting Smith as the first of the Dirty Dozen who deserved defeat.

There was one problem with this strategy--the Oregon electorate. The focus on environmental issues did not move voters from one candidate to the other. Voters who view the environment as crucial to the way they vote had already made up their minds after the January special election to vote for Bruggere. However, the emphasis on environmental issues did ensure that voters who rated the environment as important would turn out to vote, and, lust maybe, ensured that these voters would contribute money to the Bruggere campaign.

The biggest issue for voters outside the Portland area was the measure to ban livestock from polluted streams. It was here that the national environmental groups simply missed the boat. Oregon's Democratic governor, John Kitzhaber, opposed this measure as too simple a solution to a complex problem. Democratic Senate candidate Bruggere had stated on an Oregon environmental group questionnaire that he would support a measure to address the livestock issue. Republican Senate candidate Smith held up this questionnaire, which he carried around in his pocket, as evidence that Bruggere was an "extremist" on environmental issues. Bruggere never satisfactorily explained his stance on this issue. This may have played a role in Bruggere's failure to get Governor Kitzhaber to make a television ad sup porting him. The national environmental groups continued to sponsor ads attacking Smith's record while ignoring the uproar over the live stock ballot measure.

Gordon Smith beat Tom Bruggere by about 50,000 votes. Voters defeated the livestock measure handily (That one of the chief petitioners was arrested for shooting eleven of his neighbors cows shortly before the election certainly did not help.) Voters also defeated the bottle bill expansion, but did not vote to repeal the hunting limitations. That made one environmental victory out of four.

In exit polling, Oregon voters were asked to rank issues in terms of their importance. Of those who said that the environment was most important, 50 percent voted for Gordon Smith and 50 percent for Tom Bruggere. Clearly the an(i-Smith campaign waged by the League of Conservation Voters did not work, probably because the livestock measure struck a raw nerve among many rural Oregonians. In response, they voted against the measure and for Gordon Smith, the Senate candidate who opposed it. Although local environmental groups knew this dynamic was taking place, a lack of funds hampered their efforts to publicize the merits of the livestock measure. The national environmental groups completely missed this local campaign wrinkle and succeeded simply in contributing to the stereotypical view among rural voters that Bruggere was an environmental extremist.

Nationally, the two biggest targets on the League of Conservation Voters' Dirty Dozen list won their elections. Gordon Smith won Oregon's seat in the U.S. Senate, and Helen Chenoweth retained her Idaho seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Chenoweth made headlines when she was quoted as saying there is no salmon crisis because she can buy canned salmon at the grocery store. Although both races were very close, the strong national environmental campaigns made it appear that outside interests were trying to determine local elections.

In addition, the labor campaign against House Republican first-termers targeted Chenoweth. This campaign backfired in staunchly anti-union Idaho. In fact, her opponents request that the unions stop running their ads went unheeded as national decisions again ignored local electoral conditions. The wins in the Dirty Dozen campaign included the re-election of lowa Democratic Senator Tom Harkin, the defeat of South Dakota Republican Senator Larry Pressler (the only incumbent Senator defeated in 1996), and the defeat of House first-termer Michael Flanagan in Illinois. Michael Flanagan, who had taken the House seat from the former chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dan Rostenkowski, had no chance to win re-election in 1996. He was opposed by Chicago's Democratic machine, by virtually all of his district's power bases, and by a host of national interest groups. His defeat is emblematic of much of interest groups' politics in the l990s. When interest groups do not have much money (for example, the National League of Conservation Voters only spent about $430,000 nationally, a little more than one percent of the union campaign), they try to piggy-back onto elections where they can win and claim credit, regardless of the actual impact of their campaigns. It is only the well-financed interest groups that can afford to take over an election and dictate the outcome. The Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) breaks down campaign contributions by category. There is no "environment" category simply because the dollar amounts are so small relative to the money given by business and labor. The CRP lumps environmental groups into the "ideological/single issue" category along with those who focus on specific issues including the abortion issue, school prayer, and legalizing marijuana.

There are several lessons from 1996 for environmental issues in the political arena. First, environmental groups are no longer non-partisan. They overwhelmingly favor Democratic candidates. Until that partisanship is addressed, environmental groups will be viewed as special interest groups, important only to their narrow constituencies and not to the public at large.

Second, national environmental groups need to coordinate much more closely with local groups on the nature of independent expenditure campaigns. As the campaigns in Oregon demonstrated, the local dynamics of a campaign can differ significantly from its national perception.

Third, environmental groups need to look realistically at what can be accomplished in the political arena. The environmental movement must work toward compromising, deal making, and finding common ground rather than absolute solutions. Environmental issues have an impact on every part of our society. Senator John McCain wrote a New York Times op-ed piece entitled, "Nature is Not a Liberal Plot" to emphasize that there is a broad common ground on environmental issues on which Republicans and Democrats can agree. These issues will be dealt with only within the context of the messy U.S. political system. The sooner the environmental groups and the elected officials start to play this game realistically, the better for us all.

James Moore is a policy analyst and an assistant professor in the Department of History and Political Science at the University of Portland. This article was originally printed in NRLI News, Winter 1996, Vol. 7, No. 2, a publication of the Natural Resources Law Institute, Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College. Electronic Drummer | Different Drummer | The Environmental Movement | The State of the Environmental Movement

1996 Presidential Elections - History

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WI: Zyuganov wins 1996 Presidential Elections

1) The media was overwhelmingly owned by Oligarchs who were making immense riches from Yeltsin, and coverage reflected that.

2) State funds were used illegally to fund Yeltsin’s campaign, and campaign finance laws were ignored.

3) There were at least three cases of serious regional level voter fraud favouring Yeltsin, that have been proved, and there are accusations (including by Gorbachev and Medvedev) that it was much more widespread.

4) When it looked like Yeltsin was going to lose, Clinton successfully pressured the IMF to give a vast loan on favourable terms to the Russian Government, which was then portrayed as an immense victory for Yeltsin domestically.

The incumbent just has so many advantages in Russia.


I was asking this question several times myself.
What I got, is that if Zyuganov won, it would at least prevent shock therapy from getting any worse. Russia's economy would look a bit better.
However, in terms of democracy, Russian democracy would still collapse because the foundations built by Yeltsin were so terrible, and Zyuganov would find it very difficult tor resist authoritarianism.

Foreign policy: Probably more aggressive considering many of Zyuganov's backers were ex-Soviets who wanted a stronger foreign policy.






Would the Russian military really launch a pro-democracy coup?

Regardless, if Zyuganov somehow got into power he wouldn’t be voted out because he could just do what every Russian leader does and leverage a sizable minority of the vote alongside state power to ensure he gets the results he wants.


Zyuganov had his own oligarchs in his corner, and the all important security state people were open to the Communist Party returning to power. He himself expressed a willingness to continue market transitions, just at a slower pace

If he wins, what happens is he likely bungles the 1998 Financial Crisis even worse by reverting to hamfisted nationalization measures beyond what happened in OTL, and causes the primary issue of the crisis in Russia (capital flight and asset devaluation) to worsen. It is unlikely Russia is in a position to have its middle class building boom from commodity prices in the 2000s, but its also very likely that the 2000 election will go Zyuganov's way despite the fiscal collapse because of two factors, first, the actions in Chechnya that he would take would be no different from Putin's in OTL (almost getting caught with the False Flag in Ryazan was a mark of Putin's assumption of power being a bit rockier in the security organs than you may expect) and that would bring popularity, as well as the fact that the liberals, market conservatives, nationalists, and other factions would be bitterly divided and he could skate by with a plurality from his pensioner base

There is a possibility of the Union State with Belarus becoming more substantive and you could perhaps see an annexation provided Lukashenko is given a prominent role in the Communist Party

So if you get into the 2000s, and Russia's economic policy continues to muddle between renationalization and liberalization, you still end up getting growth from China's rise drastically making Russian non-energy exports once again attractive, albeit with less growth than in OTL after Putin cut taxes and encouraged a surge of FDI in the early 2000s. And of course you get the commodity boom and that helps I wonder however what GazProm looks like in this scenario as the kind of nationalization likely to happen is almost certainly going to harm its access to foreign markets that were built using technology, training, and supply agreements. So basically, Russia is a bit poorer under Zyuganov, but I cannot see, unless the 1998 crisis sees a real hyperinflation scenario, him losing an election until 2008 at the earliest, unless his own party turfs him for Lukashenko if it wants to go in a more autocratic direction, or Grudinin for a more Chinese/"liberal" direction

Watch the video: The American Presidential Election of 1996