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New Left Review I/209, January-February 1995


Patrick Cockburn

Why the Democrats Lost

American pundits greeted both the election of Bill Clinton in 1992 and the Republican capture of Congress last November as seismic convulsions in us politics. Clinton was congratulated for reuniting those middle-income whites who had regularly defected to the Republicans in presidential elections since 1968 with the traditional Democratic voters among the poor, working women, blacks and unionized workers. Two years later Newt Gingrich, elected the first Republican Speaker of the House since 1955, portrayed himself as aiming to establish a permanent Republican majority of the centre-right dedicated to ending the welfare state. His Contract with America, largely ignored before the election as a piece of political theatre, was treated with extreme seriousness by a media looking for reasons to account for the Republican victory which had caught them largely by surprise.

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