US Voters support Clinton's Democrats
From: "Yahoo! Schlagzeilen Kurznachrichten"
Wednesday, November 4, 1998, 18:03 Uhr
Washington (Reuters) - Bill Clinton's Democratic party came out of the congressional elections surprisingly stronger than they went in. According to the final counts, the Democrats, contrary to what the polls said, hung on to their 45 seats and won five seats in the House of Representatives. In both houses, however, the Republicans are still in the majority. With their gains the Democrat broke a trend for the first time in many years: for the first time in 64 years the reigning president's party gained in the President's mid-term. The Republican strategy of teaching Clinton a lesson with the Lewinsky affair did not pan out.
In California and several southern states such as Alabama and South Carolina, the Democrats won governorships traditionally occupied by the Republicans. The predictions had forecast a slight loss for the Democrats. Elections were held on Tuesday for 34 of the 100 senators, all 435 seats of the house of representatives and 36 of the 50 governors.
According to the final count the Republicans got 223 seats in the House of Representatives (from 228), the Democrats got 211 (from 206). Besides that there is one independent among the 435 representatives.
Several observers had described the election in the middle of the second and last presidential term for Clinton as the vote for the political future of the president after the Lewinsky affair. However, a TV broadcaster's post-election survey stated that only 5-7 percent of the voters said they were influenced by the Lewinsky affair in the election. Clinton admitted to a sexual relationship with the former Presidential office intern, Monica Lewinsky, only after having lied about it for a long time. At that point the Republican majority in the House of Representatives initiated an impeachment process against Clinton only four weeks before the election. The Democrats' success will take the momentum from the impeachment process, according to former White House staff chief Leon Panetta. The process will continue, but will be pushed with less energy than before, said Panetta.
Vice President Al Gore spoke of a "tremendous night for the Democrats and a tremendous night for the USA." The voters apparently stood behind the Democrats in the Lewinsky affair, he said. Instead of any further investigations they would want the administration to get back to work. The demographics found that the Democrats received support in particular from women, blacks and Hispanics.
The Democratic minority party leader of the House, Richard Gephardt, spoke of an "historical shift of opinion." The American voters voted that the administration should concern itself with health, training and social security, and not with the Lewinsky affair, he stated.
The French Foreign Minister, Hubert Vedrine, assessed the results from the USA as a strengthening of Clinton's position. Clinton's term would last two more years, and so Europe could continue working with a partner who was well known, said Vedrine on Wednesday on French television.
In the Senate election in New York, a surprise came in the defeat of Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato who had been in office for 18 years. He is known in Germany for his intervention on behalf of the Scientology sect and for the demands for reparation for the Holocaust survivors. D'Amato and his victorious opponent, Charles Schumer, had conducted a very aggressive campaign battle.
In the White House the atmosphere was one of relief. "I don't want to say that Hillary Clinton did somersaults when she heard about Schumer's win over D'Amato. But she was just short of it." "The mood is really good. In view of the problems of the past months, the results are remarkable. Think about all the predictions the Republicans made about coming away with an overwhelming victory: it didn't turn out that way."
The Republicans got their turn in Florida and Texas, where the son of former President George Bush won the governorship. In Florida Jeb Bush took the election. In Texas his older brother George W. Bush secured his re-election. In Ohio, the Republican candidate George Voinovich managed to take the Senate seat from Democrat John Glenn. The 77 year old Glenn is presently circling the earth as the oldest astronaut.
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