President Reagan was hardly opposed in his bid for the Republican nomination, and Vice President George H.W. Bush was also easily selected to run for a second term. Though the vice presidential nominee had been historically elected by vote at the party's national convention, the election of 1984 was the final election in which the vice president was selected in this way.
The Democratic nomination was a competition between former Vice President Walter Mondale, Colorado Senator Gary Hart, and Reverend Jesse Jackson. Ted Kennedy, who had been the party nominee in the election of 1980, had been expected to run again, but after his loss he declined the nomination. Jackson became the first African American candidate to have a real shot at winning the nomination, but he fell short with 21 percent of the primary vote and only 8 percent of the delegates. Hart was close to taking the nomination, with an edge for being the modern opponent who took an early lead. Mondale beat Hart in a televised debate, giving him the push he needed to take the nomination.
Mondale selected the first woman to be nominated to be the vice presidential candidate for a major political party, New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro. With his choice, Mondale intended to win over the female vote, also considering other women, African American, and Hispanic candidates for the position.
With regards to third parties, the Libertarian Party chose David Bergland and James Lewis as its nominees. The Communist Party selected Gus Hall and Angela Davis to be its presidential and vice presidential nominees, respectively.
As the oldest president ever to have served, even still, Reagan's abilities and health were questioned, but he famously refused to make it an issue of the campaign. He cleverly turned these questions around, pointing to Mondale as too young and lacking experience, which turned out to be the nail in the coffin for Mondale's campaign.
Reagan won every state except Minnesota, which gave Mondale thirteen electoral votes, and Washington DC, which gave Mondale three more. Not only did Reagan win the most electoral votes of any president in U.S. history, Mondale won the lowest number since the election of 1936. Many Democrats voted for Reagan because of the improvement seen in the economy during his presidency.
The breakdown of candidates and electoral votes was as follows:
|Presidential Candidate||Home State||Party||Electoral Votes||Running Mate|
|Ronald Reagan||California||Republican||525||George Bush|
|Walter F. Mondale||Minnesota||Democratic||13||Geraldine A. Ferraro|