By Herbert F. Weisberg
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Extra resources for Democracy's feast: elections in America
The first draft of the NES questionnaire included a large number of Perot questions, but they were dropped when he left the race. The preelection study was already half completed when Perot reentered, and there was no opportunity to reinsert the Perot questions. As a result, the NES study has relatively few questions about Perot. This makes it more difficult to assess the nature of the Perot candidacy, though Herb Asher, in chapter 6 of this book, argues that this does not materially affect our understanding of that candidacy.
Nonbinding beauty contest primary. 2Perot 3Other votes was not enough to cause serious injury to Bush's reelection chances. Still, much of Bush's press attention was negative, and he had to recover from this in the fall campaign. Contests for the nomination are to be expected for the opposition party. Several well-known Democrats decided against running in 1992, partly because of Bush's strong standing in the early 1991 polls. In particular, House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (Missouri), Senators Bill Bradley (New Jersey), Al Gore (Tennessee), Sam Nunn (Georgia), and Jay Rockefeller (West Virginia), the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and Governor Mario Cuomo of New York all decided against running.
The distrust of politicians boiled over to fuel H. Ross Perot's campaign for the presidency. Promising a government you can trust and telling voters that they are the owners of the country for whom the politicians merely work, Perot managed to keep the election year in perpetual ferment. Perot dominated the political headlines of 1992 so that the major-party candidates had to keep responding to his initiatives. Perot's withdrawal from the campaign in mid-July gave Clinton his opportunity to speak directly to the American public and zoom ahead in the polls, just as Perot's return to the campaign in October muddied the waters of the presidential debates and took away Bush's sole remaining opportunity to capture the attention of the public.