How was the 1998 election different from all other elections? Not in party strength: Republicans and Democrats won almost exactly the same percentages of the vote and number of House seats as in 1996. Nor was there any great mandate for change: Only a handful of incumbents were defeated. Turnout was unchanged, too, staying for the most part within the same 36 percent to 40 percent range of all off-year elections in the past quarter century.
The difference was a fundamental change in mood. In 1998, Americans voted against what a classic 1988 editorial in The Economist called "crunchiness" and for what the magazine called "sogginess." Crunchy choices are binary; the light switch is either off or on, with clearly distinct consequences. Soggy choices represent only a marginal, perhaps imperceptible change. In the prosperous, peaceful late 1990s, Americans were comfortable with the incorrigibly soggy Bill Clintonand deeply uncomfortable with the aggressive crunchiness of the most visible congressional Republican, Newt Gingrich. The 1998 electionsand elections are always a crunchy processsaw no significantly different partisan balance. But they did produce very different outcomes for the two party leaders.
The Almanac of American Politics 2000, which very much tends to the crunchy side, is a vital tool in assessing today's increasingly soggy political scene. No other book offers so much information plus such a clear road map to our political present and future (be it crunchy or soggy). In addition to a provocative new Introduction by Michael Barone, this completely updated edition includes:
- Insightful, colorful profiles and photographs of all 535 members of Congress and all 50 governors
- Voting records on important legislation
- Revealing descriptions of each state and congressional district with historical, economic, social, and political background information
- Congressional ratings by National Journal and a dozen influential interest groups
- Updated maps showing each congressional district, including recent redistricting changes
- 1998 election results for each member of Congress and presidential results by congressional district
- Exclusive election forecasts for every 2000 race from Washington's foremost political handicapper, Charlie Cook
- Access to the Almanac Web Edition, providing up-to-date information on key votes of the 106th Congress, results from special and interim elections, and more