Conservative political columnist Pat Buchananchallenged Bush for the Republican nomination. He shocked political pundits by finishing second, with 37% of the vote in the New Hampshire primary. Bush responded by adopting more conservative positions on issues, in an attempt to undermine Buchanan's base.Once he had secured the nomination, Bush faced the Democratic nominee, Arkansas GovernorBill Clinton. Clinton attacked Bush as a politician who was not doing enough to assist the working middle-class and being "out of touch" with the common man, a notion reinforced by reporter Andrew Rosenthal's false report that Bush was "astonished" to see a demonstration of a supermarket scanner.
The 1992 presidential electoral votes by stateIn early 1992, the race took an unexpected twist when Texas billionaire H. Ross Perotlaunched a third party bid, claiming that neither Republicans nor Democrats could eliminate the deficit and makegovernment more efficient. His message appealed to voters across the political spectrum disappointed with both parties' perceived fiscal irresponsibility.Perot later bowed out of the race for a short time, then reentered.Clinton had originally been in the lead, until Perot reentered, tightening the race significantly.As Election Day neared, the polls suggested that the race was a dead-heat,but Clinton pulled out on top, with 370 electoral votes to Bush's 168 votes. Perot won 19% of the popular vote, one of the highest totals for a third party candidate in U.S. history, drawing equally from both major candidates, according to exit polls.Several key factors led to Bush's defeat. The ailing economy that arose from recession may have been the main factor in Bush's loss. On Election Day, 7 in 10 voters said that the economy was either "not so good" or "poor".On the eve of the 1992 election unemployment reports of 7.8% (the highest since 1984),and the economic recessionoverall contributed significantly to a sharp decline in Bush's approval rating – to just 37%.Conservative Republicans pointed out that Bush's 1990 agreement to raise taxes contradicted his famous "Read my lips: no new taxes" pledge. In doing so, Bush alienated many members of his conservative base, losing their support for his re-election. According to one survey, of the voters whocited Bush's broken "No New Taxes" pledge as "very important", two thirds voted for Bill Clinton.Bush had raised taxes in an attempt to address an increasing budget deficit, which has largely been attributed to the Reagan tax cuts and military spending of the 1980s. The tax revenue increasehad not hurt his approval rating to the extent that it prevented it from reaching its highest level, 89%, by February 1991, during the Gulf War, and four months after the tax vote.
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