Remembering The First Clinton Bounce

Bill Scher

The first Democratic convention that nominated a Clinton also began with pockets of dissension. It was 1992, and Jerry Brown was refusing to endorse the Arkansas governor. His delegates chanted “Let Jerry Speak” on the first night, and Brown eventually seized the podium on the third night to declare, “We have to save our souls as Democrats.”

But was it “Democrats in Disarray?” Not exactly. The rest of the convention was scripted elegance. Independent Ross Perot suddenly dropped out, citing a “revitalized Democratic Party.” And Bill Clinton left Madison Square Garden with the biggest poll bounce in history.

I recounted this is in a recent piece for Politico, though my tale was a cautionary one: despite the big bounce, the party still wasn’t perfectly unified. Many Democrats ended up voting for Perot who re-entered the race in October.

But as some declare Democrats disunited this year, after the first night of boisterous disruptions from some Bernie Sanders delegates, the 1992 story is also a reminder that even a somewhat fractious convention can still end on a high note. And unlike 1992, Hillary Clinton has several factors working in her favor: endorsements from Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the popular incumbent President of the United States. Plus, she holds a compromise platform embraced by the runner-up.

The loud voices in the hall don’t represent the vast majority of Sanders voters, most of which polls indicate will vote for Clinton. But they do represent a constituency of those Sanders voters who say they won’t. Some may be implacable. Some may never have voted Democrat. But Hillary Clinton can’t completely ignore the dynamic.

Hillary Clinton may well be poised for her own big bounce, as the convention brings on board some of the Bernie holdouts and other swing voters appalled by the Republican convention. But she can’t ever think that she has her left flank fully in place. That relationship is going to remain tenuous.

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