Bill Clinton, the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party for eight years and the husband of its next nominee, will take the stage in Philadelphia Tuesday night to try to sell a conflicted public on his wife’s fitness for the job.
But the nation, as well as the Democratic Party itself, is vastly different than it was the first time the Man from Hope took the convention stage as the party’s pick in 1992.
The electorate as a whole is less white, and it’s more polarized now, at least according to the partisan labels voters give themselves; the Democratic Party is significantly more liberal; and the nation has been transformed by social change, the advent of the digital era and plummeting trust in institutions.
Twenty-one percent of voters in the 1992 election described themselves as liberal, 49 percent called themselves moderates and 30 percent said they were conservatives. In the last election, the electorate broke down as 25 percent liberal, 41 percent moderate and 35 percent conservative.
That’s in addition to a tough year for the former president, whose popularity took a significant hit after his impromptu meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch amid the DOJ investigation of Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton went from a net positive 15 point positive rating in February’s NBC/WSJ poll to a net negative rating of five points in July, a 20 point swing in less than six months.
Here are a few more ways the country has changed since back in 1992:
- In 1992, the electorate was 87 percent white, compared to 72 percent white in 2012.
- Congress’ negative rating 24 years ago was only 54 percent, compared to a whopping 80 percent or more now.
- According to Gallup historical data, only 48 percent of Americans said in 1992 that gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults should be legal; 44 percent disagreed. (It’s 68% to 28% now).
- Before the election of the president who passed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell — one of the policies most loathed now by progressives – 37 percent of Americans said that gay or lesbian people should not be able to be members of the military, while 57 percent said they should be able to serve.
- Just 48 percent of Americans in 1992 embraced the idea of interracial marriage.
- Seventy percent of Americans back then said they were a member of a church or synagogue, compared to 54 percent now.
- Nearly half – 46 percent – of Americans in 1992 said they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in television news, compared to just 21 percent now.
- The top movies the year of Clinton's first election were “Aladdin," "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and "Batman Returns.” (That’s the second Michael Keaton one, for folks who lost track.)
- Oh, and the top single on the Billboard charts? “End of the Road,” by Boyz II Men, who performed on the first night of the Democratic National Convention THIS year, on Monday evening.