Numbers tell the story of election ’96


Here are some of the findings of polling by Wirthlin Worldwide on the night of the election:

  • More than one out of four voters (29 percent) was a self-described born-again Christian who frequently attends church. This constituency voted overwhelmingly Republican (53 percent for Bob Dole; 36 percent for President Bill Clinton).
  • A substantial number of voters in general (16 percent) and religious voters in particular (28 percent) said moral issues like abortion and gay rights were the most important factor in their decision. Of these voters, 65 percent voted for Dole and 29 percent for Clinton. Voters motivated primarily by taxation also voted for Dole by a 61-22 margin. But Clinton received 75 percent of Medicare voters, 81 percent of education voters, and 57 percent of economy voters.
  • Subtracting religious voters from the presidential race would have increased Clinton’s margin of victory by 11 percentage points.
  • Clinton’s ties to organized labor, feminist groups, and the gay rights lobby were largely a negative for him. While only 34 percent of the electorate said they felt Dole was too closely tied to conservative Christians, 46 percent of all voters said they felt Clinton was too closely associated with liberal special interest groups.
  • Dole’s main problem may have been a failure to motivate Republican voters and persuade independents that he was the better candidate. Fully 56 percent of all voters agreed with the statement, “Bob Dole never gave me a good reason to vote for him.”
  • The so-called “soccer moms” (white females between ages 25-49 with children) were nearly a dead-even race, with 43 percent voting for Dole and 45 percent for Clinton. The “gender gap” was apparent only among single women and those who are widowed and divorced.


The survey results are taken from 1,024 telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of Americans who voted in the general election. The margin of error for the survey is plus or minus 3.1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.

— E.P. News

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