HOUSTON VOICE / MAY 31. 1996 9
Poll Results Question Clinton 's Popularity
President Clinton's high standing in
recent polls aside, most Americanos have
not succumbed to liberal ideology as
some pundits would like to suggest. In a
recent Gallup Poll, conducted April 25—
28. billed as a 'national referendum'
poll focusing on 27 important issues, the
American public overwhelming sways
conservative on a majority of those
The poll demonstraies the public's
unwavering commitmeni and unifying
suppori on II major issues by a 2-1 margin. More than 80% of those polled favor a
balanced budget amendment, raising
the minimum wage, English as the official language and life sentences for drug
dealers. Over 70% favor the death penalty for murderers, congressional term
limits, voluntary school prayer, reducing government agencies, and a two-
year cutoff for welfare recipients.
Mandatory job training and doctor
assisted suicide were favored by 69% and
68% of the public, respectively. In addition, the public appears to be in agreement on several issues that they overwhelmingly oppose such as legalizing
marijuana (73%). withdrawing from the
U.N. (77%), selling public lands (70%)
and racial preferences in jobs and
schools (83%). 67% are opposed to Gay
marriages, as are President Clinton
and Bob Dole.
The fact is that most people in this country know that socialism doesn't work.
Europe is a prime example of the ills of
socialism — double digit unemployment, blocked private job creation, etc.
Ronald Reagan's popularity clearly
exemplified that the public does not
favor class warfare or zero-sum economic pessimism. So why are the Republicans losing ground and Bob Dole's
campaign Struggling to gain momentum? Several reasons.
First and foremost. Bob Dole needs to
realize that he will not win the White
House if this election is a referendum
over income inequality and redistribution or austere numerical balanced
budget plans. The GOP's misaligned
commitment and fixation with the balanced budget issue has caused them great
consternation and provided an ideal
opportunity for Clinton to look presidential and reasoned. It was a mistake. A
mistake that can be rectified. Difficult.1 Yes. Impossible? No. Here's how I
believe it could be accomplished: The
GOP needs to aggressively bring to the
forefront a host of issues that President
Clinton cannot waffle on without serious risk of alienating his core constituency. In politics, the victor is usually
the candidate who shapes the dialogue of
the campaign. The current resident of
the White House has clearly been the winner to date. If the GOP wants to gain
ground, they need to reverse the tide and
stake claims on substantive issues. How.
Taxes. The issue of taxes is something
every working American understands.
They are fully aware of the impact that
taxes impose upon them. It is a winning
issue. Ronald Reagan and. more recently.
Christine Todd Whitman are models of
the benefits of this issue Whitman's
1993 gubernatorial win in New Jersey
against a well-financed incumbent. Jim
Florio. is considered by many to be the
catalyst that resuscitated the Republican Party to victory in 1994. Whitman's entire campaign stayed focused on
the taxation issue and never veered from
il "You will spend your money more
wisely than the government will." she
repeatedly intoned during stump
The GOP seems to have forgotten that
President Clinton and a Democrat
controlled congress enacted the largest
tax increase in history during their
reign. That is something that bears
repeating to a point of redundancy as it is a
fact that will indelibly resonate with the
voters. Clinton and his colleagues had a
two year opportunity to enact welfare
reform and neglected to do so. Now he
wants to take credit for welfare reform
efforts in states like Wisconsin that were
created by Republican governors.
Likewise, they could have raised the minimum wage during the first half of his
presidency with relative ease. Again,
they neglected to do so. This type of pus-
luring by Clinton is typical and m he
expected. He is a much better actor than
Ronald Reagan ever was and should have
no problem obtaining roles in Hollywood once he leaves office.
The puzzling aspect of Clinton is his
endearing popularity amongst the
electorate when he campaigns. Clinton, as President, never could muster
approval ratings over 50% in opinion
polls. In fact, he has had the lowest poll
ratings of any president, consistently
for most of his term, hovering around the
low to mid-40 percentile range. He is an
effective campaigner and seems to have
an uncanny ability at manipulating his
negatives into positives. In my opinion, Clinton's popularity says more
about the public's acquiescence than
their steadfast allegiance to his candidacy. TIil* fact ihui Clinton is campaigning on Republican themes has also been a
The soon lo be former Senator Dole
needs to buy some Energizer batteries
and start campaigning with a fervor. The
aforementioned poll shows that when it
comes to issues, he has the upper hand.
Additionally, the poll confirms that a
clear majority wants government less
involved with their lives—both financially and in personal matters. Dole
should disavow government intrusion
into peoples private lives, i.e. abortion
and homosexuality issues, and focus on
the economy, crime and foreign policy.
If the GOP truly believes in removing the
government off of the backs of the public, then they should practice that maxim
on the personal front as well.
Dole needs to offer clear distinctions
between him and Clinton. This should not
be difficult. Dole should promise the
American people that he will provide
them with tax relief. His recent meeting
with Steve Forbes suggests he will do just
that. Dole's decision to bring Jeanne
Kirkpatrick aboard to head his foreign
policy agenda was equally as impressive. I expect he will announce other high
profile and respected individuals as
ideological contributors to his campaign in their respective fields as the campaign cycle progresses. Both Kirkpatrick and Forbes would add luster to his
fledgling campaign as vice presidential candidates. As would Christine
Todd Whitman or Rep. John Kasich.
The election is Bob Dole's to lose. To be
sure, he is the underdog but Americans
have always had an affinity for an underdog. Ronald Reagan was more than 30
points behind President Carter when he
won the nomination and managed to win
the presidency in a landslide. In politics, nothing is certain. Personally, I
cannot get excited about either candidate and have not yet determined who will
get my vote this early in the process, nor do
I believe most Americans have either
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