Demand for a sounder economy, more jobs and an end to Washington gridlock swept Bill Clinton into the White House, local voters and political scientists say.
Lawrence voters echoed national cries for change and attention to domestic issues, such as unemployment, education, health care and the federal deficit. Despite lingering doubts, they pegged Clinton to turn the nation around.
"I had some questions with Clinton, but I have not enjoyed the last four to six years," said Teresa Kopsa, 1220 Pa. "I'm ready for a Democrat to go back there, and maybe things will be different."
"I'd like to see it get to the point where people don't have to struggle every day," said Clantha McCurdy, 2909 Santa Fe Lane. "I don't want to see people going to work worrying about whether they will have a job at the end of the day.
"I want to see us get out of the recession. And I think Clinton will keep jobs in this country."
Karl Trautman, assistant professor of political science at Baker University in Baldwin, said voters made their desires clear by ousting President Bush.
"VOTERS WANT a more activist government. Not necessarily a more liberal government, but a government willing to take action. Clinton has a tremendous opportunity to effect change," he said.
Diana Prentice-Carlin, Kansas University assistant professor of communication studies and advisory board member to the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates, said voters were drawn to Clinton because he wasn't a Washington insider.
"The message to Washington people was they need to figure out how to end the gridlock back there," she said.
Nationally, Clinton received 43 percent of the vote for a big victory in the Electoral College. George Bush had 38 percent and Ross Perot drew 19 percent.
In Kansas, Bush had 39 percent; Clinton, 34 percent; and Perot, 27 percent. In Douglas County, Clinton had 45 percent; Bush, 30 percent; and Perot, 22 percent.
Prentice-Carlin said voters' impatience with the pace of change in the federal government explains Perot's stronger-than-expected showing.
"It was the same idea that what we've been doing is not working. He struck a responsive chord," she said.
RUSSELL GETTER, associate professor of political science at KU, said Perot's vote tally in Kansas was a surprise. Perot did better in Kansas than in his home state of Texas, where he captured 22 percent of the vote.
"There are a lot of angry, angry voters in Kansas," he said.
In interviews with Lawrence voters on Tuesday, it was clear some chose Clinton because they simply couldn't bring themselves to vote for Bush or Perot.
"I voted for Clinton-Gore. I thought they were the lesser of the three evils," said Rikki Johnson, 2916 Westdale Rd.
Sandra Tompson, 1324 Conn., said her vote was as much for Clinton as it was against Bush.
"I'm ready for a change. I was fed up with Bush for the Gulf War, that he supported Saddam Hussein and then we went to war with him," she said. "And I'm concerned with the deficit, which grew during the Reagan-Bush years."
Some local voters doubted Perot's ability to lead a country.
"I think he has a lot of good ideas, but I think he is prejudiced," said Julie Westhoff, 1201 R.I., referring to Perot's statement that he wouldn't appoint homosexuals to his cabinet if elected.
Getter said Clinton's candidacy was helped by Americans' fear about the economy, the GOP's alienation of moderate party members and Bush's lack of a plan for dealing with the nation's problems.
"IT DIDN'T seem that Bush had as deep-seated commitment to solving problems," he said. "There is a backlog of problems that have not been dealt with."
Clinton supporters said they hoped the next president would focus on domestic issues such as employment, the recession and social ills.
"My life has not gotten better in the last four years, economically. Something has to change," said Christie Jacox, 2401 W. 25th.
"Hopefully, Clinton will get social programs back on track and some form of health care," she said. "I think he will focus on getting jobs here."
Bush supporters said Americans should stick with the president. The economy was pulling out of the recession, and Bush's foreign policy experience was critical, they said.
"The economy already is better. My husband and I just refinanced our house," said Sheryl Saathoff, 2412 Atchison Ave.
"The European Community is praying that Bush will be re-elected. Clinton just doesn't seem like he knows what's going on in the world," said Jessica Gruber, 2205 W. 26th.
Burdett Loomis, KU professor of political science, said Bush's efforts to couch the election in terms of trust and character didn't work.
"Trust and character really doesn't do it," Loomis said.
"PEOPLE TRULY wanted a discussion of issues important to their lives. Most of those were economic issues," Prentice-Carlin said.
"They wanted to judge a person's character, trust and leadership abilities on what that person was saying or not saying about the issues," she said.
Nancy Dolinich, 1136 N.Y., voted for Clinton but doesn't believe the federal government will change much under his tenure.
"Politics are politics," she said. "I don't expect any miracles. Now maybe different people will get rich than under Bush."