It took three elections on April 7, 1992 to decide that years Democratic primary: New York where Clinton trumped Tsongas 41%-29%; Minnesota where Clinton beat Brown 31.1%-30.7%; and Wisconsin where Clinton took the state 37% to Brown’s 34.5%.
Clinton had many of the attributes of present day candidate, Newt Gingrich. Both are larger than life, give dynamic debate performances, native sons of the south, and have massive character flaws. Aside from just their personal convictions and traits that were similar, Clinton and Gingrich played to a similar constituency, that of the working class, under-educated, and most greatly affected by the recession voters.
This working class vote, looking for a voice in the political system is not new to the Republican Party. They are the same voters in the Pat Buchanan constituency on the Republican side, Buchanan ran in 1992 against sitting President George H.W. Bush. Buchanan saw working people, who were socially conservative but had felt that Washington was a system that had cut them out. Buchanan campaigned on “Conservatism of the Heart” as he dubbed it, “letting people know that you know how bad their hurting.” In his famous Culture Wars speech in the 1992 Republican National Convention, Buchanan said of working people, “these people are our people… we need to reconnect with them”. After his endorsement of George H.W. Bush, many of these voters reconnected with Ross Perot.
This time that voting bloc of white working class is more important than ever. There is an overwhelming change that has occurred in the Republican primary. Working class white voters feel like they are going through a massive change, not only politically and economically but culturally.
Currently, a member of the white working-class, is only 48% likely to be married; one in five men do not have a full time job; 59% are secular, meaning they do not actively practice any faith; and are more likely to have children out of wedlock. This numbers are excessively higher than the upper middle class white voters, Romney voters.
For white working class in states like South Carolina, Romney is everything that got them to this place; an exporter of jobs, a Northeastern elitist, and pro-Washington D.C. establishment. And while Gingrich is no perfect candidate, he is from the South, he is raging against the machine, and he has a record of fighting for the Republican Revolution of 1994. Authoring about three thousand books on Ronald Reagan hasn’t hurt either. Therefore he is one of their own.
The fear for Republicans should be this; If Romney becomes the nominee, the white working class voters will be alienated and a third party candidacy could emerge. If Gingrich is the nominee, he will be what he always has been, a blind opportunist, taking the party down in defeat in November and taking with him Scott Brown and Dean Heller. That is of course unless, a left wing populist candidate could emerge and play a Perot style upset on this sitting president.
In 1992, the Democrat primary felt much like the Republican primary does in 2012. The Republican Party is playing a game of Russian Roulette, where there seem to be four very weak nominees and only three bullets.
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