Just after the 1994 election when Republicans recaptured both Houses of Congress for the first time in forty years, people were not only speculating that then-President Clinton would be defeated for reelection, but also wondering whether he would survive a challenge for his own party’s nomination. Well, Clinton avoided such a challenge in 1996 and won reelection by a comfortable margin, even if he failed to win a majority of the popular vote.
Bill Clinton’s comeback that year is one of the great political stories of the 1990s. Under the guidance of political consultant Dick Morris, he turned the tables on his political opponents and convinced the American people he had their interests at heart. Under his strategy of “triangulation,” Morris had Clinton move to the center, compromising with the new Republican Congress on key issues, notably welfare reform, and so crafting an agenda somewhere between that of the Republicans and the Democrats.
This year, ten years since Clinton’s comeback, we are seeing a similar comeback in the Golden State. A year ago, most pundits (but not this blogger) wrote ogg our great Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a political has-been. That Republican has invested a lot of time and energy into putting four proposals for reform on the ball last fall and lost all of them. His approval ratings plummeted.
A year later, not only have his numbers climbed, but every poll shows him leading his Democratic opponent — in a state where Democrats far outnumber Republicans — by double-digit margins. Governor Schwarzenegger has done this by moving to the center on a few issues and by running a brilliant campaign.
A registered Republican, I have received regular mailings (and phone calls) highlighting the conservative aspects of his record, opposing tax increases, pushing through pro-business reforms, supporting Jessica’s law. Meanwhile, his campaign has highlighted some of his policies which appeal to voters who tend to be left-of-center. Impressed with his environmental record, the PatriotSisterWest, a registered Democrat who lives in San Francisco, is considering voting for the incumbent Republican.
It seems that the Governator has adopted Dick Morris’ triangulation to the politics of the Golden State.