America votes to continue status quo: Clinton in White House, GOP in Congress


California Assembly goes from Republican to Democratic control

The 1996 campaign came to an end Nov. 5 in the same way T.S. Eliot said the world would end: “Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

President Bill Clinton was elected to a second four-year term with an electoral college landslide — but may not have captured even 50 percent of the popular vote. Republicans retained control of both houses of Congress — and even gained a seat in the Senate — but lost a few seats in the House of Representatives.

In California, the state Assembly fell from Republican control. Democrats now hold a majority, likely by 2-3 seats. The state Senate apparently remains the same — Democrats with 23 seats and Republicans with 16.

The national results were an endorsement of the status quo, and even that is less than a ringing endorsement. A sizable number of voters for both Dole and Clinton said they had cast their ballots “with reservations.” In the end, the American people opened their electoral menu and decided they weren’t really hungry.

In his victory speech, Clinton said the American people had “affirmed our course,” but stopped well short of claiming a mandate. He said, “America has told every one of us — Democrats, Republicans and independents — loud and clear: It is time to put politics aside, join together, and get the job done for America’s future.”

Clinton also took care to thank his pastor, Rex Horn, for his prayers, and “all the ministers and people of God who prayed for me and with me over these last four years.” He added, “There were a few especially, and they know who they are, who came to the White House time after time, in good times and bad. When the times were bad, they reminded me that God gave Saint Paul a thorn in his flesh so he would not become exalted in his own eyes. And that certainly was not a problem for me in the bad times. When the times were good, they reminded me that humility is always in order in the presidency, for in this life we see through a glass darkly and we cannot know the whole truth of our circumstances or the motives of those who oppose us. I thank them all for bringing me closer to God and to the eternal wisdom without which a president cannot serve.”

Clinton was gracious in victory, thanking Senator Dole for a hard-fought campaign and applauding his lifetime of service to the United States.

For his part, Dole pledged his support to Clinton and left supporters with “a fervent prayer that we’ll meet again and we will meet often in this land, where miracles are always happening, where every day is a new beginning and every life a blessing from God.”

Exit polling suggested that Dole attracted a majority of voters who described themselves as members of the “religious right.” Of those voters, 65 percent voted for Dole, and 26 percent for Clinton. Another poll found that 53 percent of born-again Christians who frequently attend church voted for Dole, but just 36 percent for Clinton. Though that’s a majority for Dole, it is short of the level of support that Republicans in recent presidential campaigns have attracted from conservative Christians.

— E.P. News

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