Bill Clinton, Republican Strategy, and the 1994 Elections: How Midterms Become Referenda on the President


  • James D King University of Wyoming



American politics, elections


The surprising 1994 midterm congressional election gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives for the first time in four decades and offers an opportunity to study the dynamics of a referendum on the president.  District-level contextual data on Republicans’ anti-Clinton campaign themes are used to demonstrate the dynamic of creating a presidential referendum in a midterm election.  Making President Clinton a focus of the campaign within the constituency decreased the probability of an individual voter casting a ballot for the Democratic congressional candidate, heightened the impact of Clinton’s popularity on individual vote choice; and decreased the aggregate vote percentages for the Democratic candidates.  It is unmistakable that highlighting the president’s job performance and his policies at the district level transformed the midterm congressional election into a presidential referendum.  

Author Biography

James D King, University of Wyoming

James D. King is professor of political science in the School of Politics, Public Affairs, and International Studies at the University of Wyoming.


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