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US midterms Friday, 6 November, 1998, 12:32 GMT
Analysis: Lewinsky leaves voters cold
Monica Lewinsky
The Lewinsky affairs seems to have made little difference

Click here for interactive map of results

By US affairs specialist Gordon Corera

The 1998 mid-term elections have seen President Clinton's party shake off the Lewinsky scandal and the talk of impeachment and pull off an impressive result.

[an error occurred while processing this directive] Against all odds, the Democrats have picked up seats in the House of Representatives, something that has not happened in a mid- term since 1934.

In fact, since the end of World War Two, the party controlling the White House has lost an average of 27 seats in mid-terms. In elections in the sixth year of a presidency, such as this one, the average loss has been 44 over the last five elections.

The Republicans have egg on their faces. During the darkest days of the Lewinsky scandal, the Republicans were gleefully predicting that they would win 40 seats in the House of Representatives.

There is even talk of an attempt by Republicans to remove their leader in the House Newt Gingrich.

No Lewinsky factor

Evidence so far shows that the impeachment issue did little harm to the president. Women and African-Americans look to have turned out in high numbers to support the Democratic party and many voters looked to have been turned off by the Republican's strategy.

The Washington State first district race is a good example of the how things have gone. The seat was held by Republican Frank White, but Challenger Jay Inslee was the first Democrat to run ads complaining that the Republicans had been dragging out the impeachment process. Mr Inslee took the seat with 51% of the vote.

More importantly, the Democrats scored some big victories in key races. In the hard-fought and dirty New York Senate campaign, Chuck Schumer beat incumbent Republican Al D'Amato. Democrat Barbara Boxer kept her seat in the California Senate race and the governorship of California, which the Democrats have not held since 1982.

Bread and butter issues

Exit polls showed that 20% of voters identified education as their most important concern since voting, 19% moral and ethical issues, 14% named the economy, and 12% each identified taxes and social security.

Many pundits had said in the build-up that this election was a referendum on impeachment. A victory for the Republicans would have been seen as a mandate to press on with the investigation of the president and the attempt to remove him from office. But now, with hearings set to start in only two weeks time, the survival of President Clinton seems assured.

The comeback kid has done it again.

Links to more US midterms stories are at the foot of the page.


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