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THE 1992 ELECTION: THE NATION'S VOTERS; Clinton Carves a Wide Path Deep Into Reagan Country - The New York Times

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Archives|THE 1992 ELECTION: THE NATION'S VOTERS; Clinton Carves a Wide Path Deep Into Reagan Country
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Archives | 1992

THE 1992 ELECTION: THE NATION'S VOTERS; Clinton Carves a Wide Path Deep Into Reagan Country

By JEFFREY SCHMALZNOV. 4, 1992

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November 4, 1992, Page 00001 The New York Times Archives

Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas recaptured for his party yesterday the Democrats who had fled to Ronald Reagan, and he made strong inroads into what had been Republican strongholds in the suburbs and among voters who label themselves moderates and independents.

In general, according to interviews with voters as they left the polls, President Bush lost the groups that Mr. Reagan had won over and that had remained with Mr. Bush in 1988. More than half the Democrats who said they voted for Mr. Bush last time voted for Mr. Clinton this time.

The President also lost ground with women. While they split evenly in 1988 between Mr. Bush and his Democratic opponent, Michael S. Dukakis, their vote this year went solidly to Mr. Clinton, with about half of women giving him their vote, compared with a third for Mr. Bush and the rest for Ross Perot.

At the same time, the Arkansas Governor held on to traditional Democratic groups, carrying more than three-quarters of the black vote. And, reversing a trend over the last two Presidential elections, the Democrat won more than half of first-time voters, including students and the young. Impact of the Economy

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In the interviews, voters painted a bleak picture of the American economy, with more than two-thirds describing it as "not so good" or "poor" and giving their votes to Mr. Clinton.

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Overwhelmingly, the economy and jobs were cited by voters as issues that mattered the most in deciding their votes. The next biggest concerns, health care and the Federal deficit, were cited only half as often.

Although Mr. Bush appealed to upper-income voters, a natural Republican constituency, he did not fare especially well among voters with family incomes of $75,000 or more. He split that vote evenly with Mr. Clinton.

As expected, Mr. Bush did win the support of more than half of the people who felt that their financial situation was better today than four years ago, while two-thirds of those who thought it was worse voted for Mr. Clinton.

Despite fears in both camps that Mr. Perot would swing the election in individual states, early surveys of voters indicated that a two-way race would not have turned out much differently. Mr. Perot had an especially poor showing among blacks and voters at least 60 years old. The survey was conducted by Voter Research and Surveys, a consortium of the four television networks. Desire for Change

In a year in which Republicans tried to make experience, character and trust the central issues, voters indicated that the theme of change sounded by the Democrats was more important. Change was cited as one of the qualities that mattered the most in deciding their vote by well over a third of those interviewed. Honesty and trustworthiness were cited by fewer than 2 in 10, but those who did cite it went overwhelming for Mr. Bush.

Nearly half of the voters said Mr. Clinton was lying about his draft record and his activities during the Vietnam War. In the end, however, nearly half of the those who said they were military veterans voted for him anyway.

But Mr. Bush was not unscathed by the question of honesty. Seven in 10 voters said he was lying about his role in the Iran-contra affair.

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About one in four voters said Mr. Bush's reversal of his 1988 "no new taxes" pledge was very important in making their choice for President this year. Of those, roughly two-thirds voted for Mr. Clinton.

Three in 10 voters said the candidates for Vice President were very important in making their choice for President. That did not bode well for Mr. Bush and Dan Quayle, as most of those voters backed Mr. Clinton.

Republicans made much of the theme "family values" throughout the year, but a mere sixth of the voters said the issue was important in deciding their vote. In fact, there were indications that Republican denunciations of non-traditional families may have alienated more voters than they attracted.

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Half of single people, half of single parents and more than half of working women voted for Mr. Clinton, while a third of each group voted for Mr. Bush. Seven in 10 homosexual and bisexual voters backed Mr. Clinton.

In a year in which Mr. Clinton's wife, Hillary, drew much criticism for remarks that some women took as offensive to homemakers, Mr. Clinton won just over a third of homemaker vote, with close to a half going to Mr. Bush. About 1 in 10 voters identified themselves as homemakers.

Abortion was cited as an important factor in their decision by only 1 in 10 voters. More than half of people who said abortion should be always illegal or mostly illegal cast their votes for the President, while more than half who support legalized abortion voted for Mr. Clinton.

Mr. Bush won the support of those who attend religious services at least once a week, getting nearly half their vote. But he failed to win over a majority of Roman Catholics, a group he had aggressively courted. Their vote split along the lines of general public's, with roughly half going to Mr. Clinton and just over a third to Mr. Bush.

Jewish support went overwhelmingly to Mr. Clinton, who took 8 in 10 of Jewish votes, a better performance than the 6 in 10 won by Mr. Dukakis in 1988.

With the controversy over Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court still echoing in some races, especially for Senate, a third of voters in the Presidential race said future appointments to the Court were very important in making their selection for President. More than half of them voted for Mr. Clinton, while only a third went for Mr. Bush.

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In Illinois, voters were evenly divided over the wisdom of the Thomas nomination. Two-thirds of those who said the nomination was a mistake voted for Mr. Clinton, while more than half who favored the nomination supported Mr. Bush.

Mr. Clinton and his running mate, Senator Al Gore of Tennessee, made much of their representing the baby-boomer generation, while Mr. Bush emphasized his maturity and experience. But only 1 in 10 voters said age mattered in their choice, with most of them voting for Mr. Clinton.

The Persian Gulf war, which brought Mr. Bush to historic heights in his approval rating and which scared away many top Democrats from seeking the White House, in the end mattered to only a quarter of the voters. Most of those did indeed support Mr. Bush.

Another Bush selling point, foreign policy, was cited by fewer than 1 in 10 voters as an issue that mattered most in casting their ballot. The environment, an issue that Mr. Clinton was counting on to help him, was cited by even fewer voters, 1 in 20.

The exception was California. Half of the voters there said they were environmentalists, and more than 6 in 10 of them voted for Mr. Clinton.

The televised debatges seem to have helped Mr. Clinton, who won the vote of half of those who said the debates were important. The remainder was split between Mr. Bush and Mr. Perot, who benefited from a lift in the polls after the third debate.

A Man in the News article in late editions about Vice President-elect Al Gore Jr. misstated the year his father was defeated for re-election to the Senate. It was 1970, not 1969.

Correction: November 5, 1992

A Man in the News article in late editions yesterday about President-elect Bill Clinton misstated his age when he was defeated for re-election after his first term as Governor of Arkansas. He was 34 years old, not 32.

A version of this article appears in print on November 4, 1992, on Page B00001 of the National edition with the headline: THE 1992 ELECTION: THE NATION'S VOTERS; Clinton Carves a Wide Path Deep Into Reagan Country. Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe

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