Ross for Boss

The Perot Phenomenon and Beyond

Edited by Ted G. Jelen

Subjects: Political Parties
Series: SUNY series on the Presidency: Contemporary Issues
Paperback : 9780791448540, 198 pages, February 2001
Hardcover : 9780791448533, 198 pages, February 2001

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Table of contents

List of Figures and Tables

List of Contributors


1 The Perot Campaigns in Theoretical Perspective
Ted G. Jelen

2 The Television Candidate: H. Ross Perot's 1992 and 1996 Presidential Races
Kenneth D. Nordin

3 A Case Study of a Third Presidential Campaign Organization:Virginians for Perot
Andrew D. Martin and Brian E. Spang

4 Attitudes Toward Government, Partisan Dispositions, and the Rise of Ross Perot
Jeffrey Koch

5 The Politics of a Bittersweet Economy: Economic Restructuring, Economic Stories, and Ross Perot in the Elections of 1992 and 1996
Solon Simmons and James Simmons

6 Structural Constraints on Perot Voting Patterns: The Effects of Religious Adherence
Christopher P. Gilbert,Timothy R. Johnson, David A. M. Peterson, and Paul A. Djupe

7 Understanding Perot's Plummet
Jeremy D. Mayer and Clyde Wilcox

8 From Ross the Boss to Jesse the Body: Did the Perot Phenomenon Spawn the Ventura Victory?
Christopher P. Gilbert and David A. M. Peterson


Presents an empirical study of Perot's 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns and the implications for third-party politics in the United States.


Ross for Boss provides insights into the sources, continuity, and enduring importance of Ross Perot's presidential candidacies in 1992 and 1996 as a member of the Reform Party, and evaluates the impact of the Perot phenomenon on the future of both public policy and the U.S. party system. Using theoretical and historical literature on third parties and independent candidates, the contributors identify the sources of Perot's support and opposition among political activists and the mass public.

Perot's supporters are understood as "zealots of the center" who resist partisan and ideological polarization. Perot himself, the authors suggest, was a master showman, able to use classical theatrical forms to establish himself as an improbable, yet inevitable, leader of a mass movement. His support came from people whose economic interests were directly threatened by increases in the global scope of the U.S. economy, and—like other third party candidates of the twentieth century—from those without formal religious affiliations. Comparisons of the 1992 and 1996 campaigns show that the decline in support for Perot was, for the most part, uniform across geographic regions and demographic groups.

Ted G. Jelen is Professor and Chair of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and coauthor (with Clyde Wilcox) of Public Attitudes Toward Church and State.


"An important contribution to the field of political science. A clear and strong picture of who Perot's supporters were and why they had supported him."— Allison Calhoun-Brown, Georgia State University

"Ross for Boss provides important insights into third party candidacies, and addresses and explains Perot's differential performances in the 1992 and 1996 elections very well." — Corwin Smidt, Calvin College