The United States presidential election of 1996 was a contest between the Democratic national ticket of President Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee and the Republican national ticket of former Senator Bob Dole of Kansas for President and former Cabinet Secretary Jack Kemp of New York for Vice President. Businessman Ross Perot ran as candidate for the Reform Party with economist Pat Choate as his running mate: he received less media attention but after some controversy about media bias, Perot wasn't excluded from the presidential debates and, while still obtaining substantial results for a third-party candidate, by U.S. standards, did not renew his success in the 1992 election. Clinton benefited from an economy which recovered from the early 1990s recession, and a relatively stable world stage. On November 5, 1996, President Clinton went on to win re-election with a huge electoral college vote (468 in total) but wouldn't win over the 50% of the popular vote mark as Clinton trounched Dole with 45 electoral votes and Perot with 26 electoral votes.



Democratic Party nomination


  • President Bill Clinton of Arkansas

With the advantage of incumbency, Bill Clinton's path to renomination by the Democratic Party was uneventful. At the 1996 Democratic National Convention, Clinton and incumbent Vice President Al Gore were renominated with token opposition. Incarcerated fringe candidate Lyndon LaRouche won a few Arkansas delegates that were barred from the convention. Former Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey contemplated a challenge to Clinton, but health problems forced Casey to abandon a bid.

Clinton easily won primaries nationwide, with margins consistently higher than 80%.

  • Bill Clinton (inc.) - 9,706,802 (88.98%)
  • Lyndon LaRouche - 596,422 (5.47%)
  • Unpledged - 411,270 (3.77%)

Republican Party nomination


  • Senator Bob Dole of Kansas
  • Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan of Virginia
  • Newspaper and magazine publisher Steve Forbes of New York
  • Former Governor Lamar Alexander of Tennessee
  • Forme U.S. ECOSOC Ambassador Alan Keyes of Maryland
  • Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana
  • Senator Phil Gramm of Texas
  • Representative Bob Dornan of California
  • Businessman Morry Taylor of Ohio
  • Senator Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania
  • Governor Pete Wilson of California

A number of Republican candidates entered the field to challenge the incumbent Democratic president, Bill Clinton.

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.

Former U.S. Army General Colin L. 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 and future Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney was touted by many as a possible candidate for the presidency, but he declared his intentions not to run in early 1995. Former and future Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld formed a presidential campaign exploratory committee, but declined to formally enter the race. Then-Texas Governor George W. Bush was also urged by some party leaders to seek the Republican Party nomination, but opted against doing so. He would however be awarded the presidency four years later in one of the closest and most controversial elections in American history.

Primaries and Convention

Going into the 1996 primary contest, Senate majority leader and former vice-presidential nominee Bob Dole was seen as the most likely winner. However, in the primaries and caucuses, social conservative Pat Buchanan received early victories in Alaska, Louisiana and New Hampshire, and Steve Forbes in Delaware and New Mexico which put Dole's leadership in doubt. However, Dole won every primary starting with North and South Dakota, which gave him a lock on the party nomination. Dole resigned his Senate seat on June 11. The Republican National Convention formally nominated Dole on August 15, 1996 as the GOP candidate for the fall election.

Popular primaries vote

  • Bob Dole - 9,024,742 (58.82%)
  • Pat Buchanan - 3,184,943 (20.76%)
  • Steve Forbes - 1,751,187 (11.41%)
  • Lamar Alexander - 495,590 (3.23%)
  • Alan Keyes - 471,716 (3.08%)
  • Richard Lugar - 127,111 (0.83%)
  • Unpledged - 123,278 (0.80%)
  • Phil Gramm - 71,456 (0.47%)
  • Bob Dornan - 42,140 (0.28%)
  • Morry Taylor - 21,180 (0.14%)

Convention tally:

  • Bob Dole 1928
  • Pat Buchanan 47
  • Steve Forbes 2
  • Alan Keyes 1
  • Robert Bork 1

Former Congressman and Cabinet secretary Jack Kemp was nominated by acclamation as Dole's running mate the following day.

Other politicians mentioned as possible GOP V.P. nominees before Kemp was selected included:

  • John Ashcroft, U.S. Senator from Missouri
  • Ken Blackwell, Ohio State Treasurer
  • Pat Buchanan, conservative commentater
  • George W. Bush, Governor of Texas
  • Carroll Campbell, Former Governor of South Carolina
  • Jim Edgar, Governor of Illinois
  • John Engler, Governor of Michigan
  • Dan Lungren, California Attorney General
  • Connie Mack III, U.S. Senator from Florida
  • John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona
  • Tommy Thompson, Governor of Wisconsin
  • George Voinovich, Governor of Ohio

Reform Party nomination

2 Reform candidates entered the field to challenge the incumbent Democratic President, Bill Clinton. They were:

  • Richard Lamm - former Governor of Colorado
  • Ross Perot - party founder, ran in 1992 election from Texas

The United States Reform Party nominated party founder Ross Perot of Texas in its first election as an official political party. Although Perot easily won the nomination, his victory at the party's national convention led to a schism, as supporters of his opponent, former Governor Richard Lamm of Colorado, accused him of rigging the vote to prevent them from casting their ballots. This faction walked out of the national convention and eventually formed their own group, the American Reform Party. Representative Dean Barkley of Minnesota was chosen for the Vice Presidential spot.

General Election


Without meaningful primary opposition, Clinton was able to focus on the general election early, while Dole was forced to move to the right and spend his campaign reserves fighting off challengers. Political adviser Dick Morris urged Clinton to raise huge sums of campaign funds via soft money for an unprececented early TV blitz of swing states promoting Clinton's agenda and record. As a result, Clinton could run a campaign through the summer defining his opponent as an aged conservative far from the mainstream before Dole was in a position to respond. Compared to the 50-year old Clinton, then 73-year old Dole appeared especially old and frail, as illustrated by an embarrassing fall off a stage during a campaign event. Dole further enhanced this contrast on September 18 when he made a reference to a no-hitter thrown the day before by Hideo Nomo of the “Brooklyn Dodgers”, a team that had left Brooklyn for Los Angeles four decades earlier. A few days later Dole would make a joke about the remark saying "And I'd like to congratulate the St. Louis Cardinals on winning the N.L. Central. Notice I said the St. Louis Cardinals not the St. Louis Browns." (The Browns had left St. Louis after the 1954 season to become the Baltimore Orioles.)

With respect to the issues, Dole promised a 15% across-the-board reduction in income tax rates and made former Congressman and supply side advocate Jack Kemp his running mate. Bill Clinton framed the narrative against Dole early, painting him as a mere clone of unpopular then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich, warning America that Bob Dole would work in concert with the Republican Congress to slash popular social programs, like Medicare and Social Security, dubbed by Clinton as "Dole-Gingrich". Bob Dole's tax-cut plan found itself under attack from the White House, who said it would "blow a hole in the deficit" which had been cut nearly in half during his opponent's term.

Throughout the run-up to the general election, Clinton maintained comfortable leads in the polls over Dole and Perot. The televised debates featured only Dole, Clinton and Perot.

Campaign donations controversy

In late September 1995, questions arose regarding the Democratic National Committee's fund-raising practices. In February the following year, the People's Republic of China's alleged role in the campaign finance controversy first gained public attention after the Washington Post published a story stating that a U.S. Department of Justice investigation had discovered evidence that agents of China sought to direct contributions from foreign sources to the DNC before the 1996 presidential campaign. The paper wrote that intelligence information had showed the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C. was used for coordinating contributions to the DNC in violation of U.S. law forbidding non-American citizens from giving monetary donations to U.S. politicians and political parties. Seventeen people were eventually convicted for fraud or for funneling Asian funds into the U.S. elections.

One of the more notable events learned involved Vice President Al Gore and a fund-raising event held at Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California. The Temple event was organized by DNC fund-raisers John Huang and Maria Hsia. It is illegal under U.S. law for religious organizations to donate money to politicians or political groups due to their tax-exempt status. The U.S. Justice Department alleged Hsia facilitated $100,000 in illegal contributions to the 1996 Clinton-Gore re-election campaign through her efforts at the Temple. Hsia was eventually convicted by a jury in March 2000. The DNC eventually returned the money donated by the Temple's monks and nuns. Twelve nuns and employees of the Temple refused to answer questions by pleading the Fifth Amendment when they were subpoenaed to testify before Congress in 1997.


  • Clinton/Gore - 46%
  • Dole/Kemp - 35%
  • Perot/Barkley - 17%

Results by state

# State Winner Delegates
1 Washington Clinton / Gore 11
2 Oregon Clinton / Gore 7
3 California Clinton / Gore 54
4 Arizona Clinton / Gore 8
5 Nevada Clinton / Gore 4
6 New Mexico Clinton / Gore 5
7 Colorado Clinton / Gore 8
8 Utah Dole / Kemp 5
9 Idaho Dole / Kemp 4
10 Montana Perot / Barkley 3
11 Wyoming Perot / Barkley 3
12 North Dakota Perot / Barkley 3
13 South Dakota Clinton / Gore 3
14 Nebraska Dole / Kemp 5
15 Kansas Dole / Kemp 6
16 Oklahoma Dole / Kemp 8
17 Texas Clinton / Gore 32
18 Louisiana Clinton / Gore 9
19 Arkansas Clinton / Gore 6
20 Mississippi Clinton / Gore 6
21 Alabama Dole / Kemp 9
22 Georgia Clinton / Gore 13
23 Florida Clinton / Gore 25
24 South Carolina Dole / Kemp 8
25 North Carolina Clinton / Gore 14
26 Virginia Clinton / Gore 13
27 Tennessee Clinton / Gore 11
28 Kentucky Clinton / Gore 8
29 West Virginia Clinton / Gore 5
30 Ohio Clinton / Gore 21
31 Indiana Clinton / Gore 12
32 Illinois Clinton / Gore 22
33 Michigan Clinton / Gore 18
34 Wisconsin Clinton / Gore 11
35 Minnesota Perot / Barkley 10
36 Iowa Clinton / Gore 7
37 Maine Perot / Barkley 4
38 Vermont Clinton / Gore 3
39 New Hampshire Clinton / Gore 4
40 Massachusetts Clinton / Gore 12
41 Rhode Island Clinton / Gore 4
42 Connecticut Clinton / Gore 7
43 New York Clinton / Gore 33
44 Pennsylvania Clinton / Gore 23
45 New Jersey Clinton / Gore 15
46 Delaware Clinton / Gore 3
47 Maryland Clinton / Gore 10
48 Missouri Clinton / Gore 11
49 Alaska Perot / Barkley 3
50 Hawaii Clinton / Gore 4
51 Washington D.C. Clinton / Gore 3
52 Puerto Rico Clinton / Gore 7
Total 545

United States Presidential Election of 1992 (Liberia, USA)

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