The Clinton-Lewinsky scandal was not a direct factor in the election outcome: As many people voted for Clinton as against him, according to exit polls. But a perception of Republican preoccupation with the inquiry — epitomized by scandal ads targeted against Democrats in key House races last week — may have fueled the late Democratic rally.
While voters expressed strong disapproval of GOP handling of the scandal, they also reported more optimism and economic security than in either of the last two elections. The credit for this clearly went to Clinton. Fully 56% of voters approved of his job performance, and they voted Democratic by a margin of 76%-22%.
The Credit Game. Voters who predicted that they would be financially better off a year from now were twice as numerous as in 1994, and they overwhelmingly voted Democratic across the country.
Republican Drift. Republicans did not run nearly as well as they did even two years ago among upper income voters and college graduates. They ran 11 percentage points behind their 1996 tally among affluent voters.
Gender gap helps Democrats more. Women gave much stronger support to Democrats than men gave to Republicans yesterday. That pivotal pattern was reversed in 1994, when women divided their votes and men overwhelming went GOP.
Moderates Went Democratic. Self-described moderates were more numerous this year than in 1994, and they overwhelmingly went Democratic.