One of the signs of the success of H. Ross Perot in the 1992 US Presidential Election is that he failed to win a single electoral vote. While coming up with no electoral votes may not be a sign of success, it does mean that H. Ross Perot managed to do something that no third party candidate had managed to do since Theodore Roosevelt in 1912: create a broad-based, rather than regional, third-party. His success, and failure, carried even further down then the state level. At the county level, any presidential candidate should be able to find a few pockets of strength, college towns or ethnic communities, or some other demographic oddity that will be a center of strength. But Perot ran a broad based campaign, doing fairly well across the country, but only managed to win a handful of counties. This is a list of the counties that Perot managed to win a plurality in, with brief explanations of why he managed to do well in those areas.
- Trinity County, California:
Trinity is a large, sparsely settled county in the mountains of Northern California. Despite the fact that California is heavily urbanized, and the attendant stereotypes, there are large areas of California that resemble the rest of the Western States. Trinity County is one of these areas, and probably had a libertarian, or at least anti-establishment attitude that Perot would appeal to.
- Moffat County, Colorado:
Moffat, in the Northwestern corner of Colorado, is another large, sparsely populated county in a Western state, and probably had similar leanings as Trinity.
- San Juan County, Colorado:
San Juan is the least populous county in Colorado, with a total vote of 351 people in the 1992 election. It was a county based around mining, and when that industry collapsed, there was little left in the county. The appeal of Perot to a place in such transition is obvious.
- Anderson County, Kansas:
Anderson County is a small county in East Central Kansas, probably not that distinguishable from the other counties around it, that Perot won by a small margin.
- Jefferson County, Kansas:
Not that far away from Anderson County, and with about the same demographics, Jefferson County is another Kansas county that Perot won by a single percentage point.
- Morris County, Kansas:
This county gets an honorable mention, since Perot and Bush both got 1071 votes. Otherwise, this county is again geographically and demographically similar to the two other Kansas Counties.
- Wabaunsee County, Kansas:
Another small county in the same area as the aforementioned counties, where Perot again gained a very small victory.
- Loving County, Texas:
The lack of percentage signs isn't a mistake here: this is the raw vote of Loving County, Texas', and the nation's, least populous county. The small number of voters makes it an obvious contender for the vote being influenced by statistical noise, as does the unusual demographics of this very small county.
- Irion County, Texas:
Texas in general was an odd state in 1992: both Bush and Perot hailed from there, and Clinton, as a southerner, would do better in the state than many other Democrats would. For this reason, many counties in the state came in very close, and Irion County, a small county (noticing a trend here) in the center of the state, was one of them.
- Somervell County,Texas:
Another Texas County, located very close to the center of the state, that fits the above profile.
- Grayson County, Texas:
This county, on the border with Oklahoma, fits the profile of the other counties, besides it was much larger: it had a population of around 100,000 people.
- Piscataquis County, Maine:
Piscataquis County, located in central Maine, is the largest county in New England, and the most sparsely populated.
- Somerset County, Maine:
Adjacent to Piscataquis County, Somerset is another large, sparsely inhabited county, although it is more populous than Piscataquis.
- Waldo County, Maine:
Waldo County is located on the Atlantic Ocean, and other than its smaller size, and ocean location, is much like the two other Maine counties that Perot won.
All of the counties that Perot won have a few things in common: they are sparsely inhabited, rural, and white. Most of them were also not farming communities, but rather rural areas that seemed to have fallen through the cracks of the economy. Most of them are located in the Western States, except for the three in Maine, which is also as Western as the East Coast gets, so to speak. All of them seem to be pretty close to three-way ties, and in none of them did Perot manage to gain a majority. These counties are also not truly distinct: there are many other counties that had similar votes, but where Perot fell a percentage point or two short of winning.
Although the vote total in an eighteen year old election in Morris County, Kansas may not seem to be a matter of great interest, it does show the twists and turns and political microclimates that can eventually shape large movements. Perot did have a widespread base of support, but his strongest support seemed to be amongst small, rural disaffected communities, which while it can lend itself to bringing up issues and causing turmoil in the political system, doesn't lend itself to the type of collation building that brings electoral success.