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The 1996 House Elections: Reaffirming the Conservative Trend

by John F. Cogan, David Bradyvia Analysis
Saturday, March 1, 1997

Before last November's election, the conventional wisdom was that Republicans would experience large losses in Congress. The party of Newt Gingrich had supposedly put its majority at risk by pursuing an aggressive legislative agenda that was too extreme for mainstream America. Many pundits argued that the Republican majority would suffer the same as its predecessors in 1948 and 1954: two years and out.

But the electorate confounded the experts by reelecting a GOP House majority for the first time since 1930. How did conventional wisdom miss the mark so badly? This essay provides an assessment of the November House elections.

Republicans in the 104th Congress had the most conservative voting record of any Congress in the post-World War II era. Its record for conservative voting shattered the previous record set by Republicans in 1949. Voters registered their overwhelming approval of this agenda by returning 92 percent of the incumbent House Republicans to office. Our statistical analysis reveals no evidence that House Republicans who did lose were defeated because of their support for conservative votes. In fact, Republican winners had slightly more conservative voting records than losers. This holds even when the analysis is confined to Republicans in moderate-to-liberal congressional districts. Likewise, there is no evidence that voting for the Contract with America harmed reelection prospects of Republicans from moderate-to-liberal districts. Finally, there is no statistical evidence that organized labor' s $35 million campaign had any impact on election outcomes involving Republican freshmen.

Continued conservative dominance of Congress seems likely for the remainder of this century. In every off-year presidential election since the Civil War, except one, the party of the president has lost seats in the House. Republicans continue to run well in southern and border states and are in a position to continue to gain seats in these regions. Democratic members are expected to continue to retire at higher rates than Republican members.

The Dole Plan and Human Capital

by Gary S. Beckervia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

Nobel Prize-winner and Hoover fellow Gary S. Becker had never set foot in the Capitol building before getting an invitation from Senator Dole. But Becker believed that the country needed new economic initiatives, so off to Washington he went. Here he describes how the Dole plan would have fostered the formation of human capital.

Ballots and Banners

via Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

In its current exhibition in the Herbert Hoover Memorial Exhibit Pavilion, the Hoover archives tells the story of contemporary elections through a display of posters, buttons, brochures, and flags.

These Are the Facts, Folks

by Michael J. Boskinvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

Wouldn't the Dole plan have been Reaganomics all over again? Voodoo Two? Hoover fellow and Stanford economics professor Michael J. Boskin points out that Reagan's tax cut wasn't voodoo in the first place-and that Dole's plan wasn't black magic either.

How the Budget Would Have Balanced

by John F. Coganvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

Hoover fellow John F. Cogan does the arithmetic.

How To Downsize the Government

by Robert J. Barrovia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

As far as it went, the Dole plan made good sense, argues Hoover fellow Robert J. Barro, who offers an evaluation—and suggestions for reforms that would have been even better.

The Case Against the Case Against the Plan

by John B. Taylorvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

Hoover fellow and Stanford economics professor John B. Taylor examines the arguments against the Dole plan, one by one-and, one by one, he refutes them.

How the Plan was Born

by Bruce Bartlettvia Hoover Digest
Thursday, January 30, 1997

Columnist and Hoover media fellow Bruce Bartlett calculated that a 15 percent tax-rate cut would be just enough to roll back President Clinton's tax increases. Bartlett mentioned his idea to a senator named Spencer Abraham, who mentioned it to a senator named Bob Dole.

Breaking the Environmental Policy Gridlock

via Books by Hoover Fellows
Wednesday, January 1, 1997

Can we get Congress to stop the gridlock on our environmental policies?

Laboratories of Democracy

by Bernadette Malonevia Policy Review
Friday, November 1, 1996

Bellwethers of realignment: Bernadette Malone on key races in state legislatures