The 1992 U.S. presidential election was the 52nd presidential election. This was also the first presidential election where California’s electoral votes accounted for over 10% of the total electoral votes. The 1992 election was a contest between Democratic Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas, incumbent Republican president George H.W. Bush, and independent businessman Ross Perot of Texas.
The race for the Democratic nomination was highly competitive. Clinton was up against Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, former California governor Jerry Brown, and former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas. After Clinton’s campaign was poisoned by widespread media coverage of his 12-year affair, he regained popularity and nearly swept the Southern primaries.
While most incumbent presidents face little to no opposition for renomination, President Bush faced a challenge from conservative commentator Pat Buchanan. Because Bush revoked his promise about tax increases in 1990, his candidacy was wounded; however, he went on the secure the Republican nomination for president.
Because of Clinton’s personal scandals and a faltering economy weakening Bush’s campaign, the conditions were right for a third-party bid. Ross Perot announced that he would run or president on CNN’s Larry King Live. He led in polls in both May and June but unexpectedly dropped out of the presidential race the night before the Democratic National Convention in July.
Clinton chose Tennessee Senator Al Gore as his running mate, who would later run for president in 2000. Clinton and Gore maintained a lead over the incumbent pair of Bush and his vice president Dan Quayle throughout the campaign. In September, Ross Perot entered the campaign trail again and gained support relatively quickly leading up Election Day. Perot spent $65 million of his own money to fund his campaign and gained support through his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), his focus on reducing the country’s deficit and national debt, and his nontraditional campaign.
Major topics for discussion during the campaign included the Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
Bill Clinton won the following states in the 1992 election:
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
George H.W. Bush won the following states in the 1992 election:
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Bill Clinton received 44,908,254 popular votes, George Bush received 39,102,343 popular votes, and Ross Perot received 19,743,821. Perot received the highest number of popular votes for any third-party candidate in history, about 18.91% of the total popular vote. Despite this, he did not receive any electoral votes. Clinton received 370 electoral votes and Bush received 168 electoral votes.
Bill Clinton was elected as the 42nd U.S. president. He was inaugurated for his first term on January 20, 1993.