U.S. Presidential Election 1980

by poonam bisht

The 1980 US election was largely a showdown between Republican candidate Reagan and Democrat Jimmy Carter. It was won by Reagan, who became the 40th President of the United States.…

The 1980 US election was largely a showdown between Republican candidate Reagan and Democrat Jimmy Carter. It was won by Reagan, who became the 40th President of the United States. The election took place during a downturn in the United States economy.

The end of the 1970s saw the former Republican California governor Ronald Reagan announcing his intentions to run for the post of President of the United States. He was challenged in the primaries by George Bush. Ronald Reagan won the primaries by a substantial margin, in spite of loosing at the Iowa caucuses. His principal support base was the southern part of the United States. Reagan’s success was made possible by his own version of ‘supply side economics’. He assured his electorates of a healthier US economy by announcing his intentions of promoting strategic tax cuts to catalyze the United States economy. George Bush came third in the primaries, and became Reagan’s running mate in the 1980 United States election.

The incumbent US President Jimmy Carter was the Democrat nominee in the primaries. The President was however challenged by Ted Kennedy in the nominations. Ted Kennedy came a close second in the Democratic primaries, garnering almost half of Carter’s total votes. Walter Frederick Mondale was chosen as Jimmy Carter’s running mate in the US presidential elections.

The 1980 US election campaign saw a dramatic realignment in American politics. Although Jimmy Carter considerably enhanced his popularity by his calm handling of the Iran hostage crisis, it was cut short due to his limited competence to combat the rising specter of rampant inflation and accompanying unemployment. His popularity was further hampered by rising gasoline prices. The high prices were the after effect of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war in the Middle East. Ronald Reagan openly espoused a more active American foreign policy. This was his way to counter the ‘peace’ image of the US, projected during Jimmy Carter’s time as United States President. He also declared a series of steps to counter the growing weakness in the US economy. A balanced budget was promised by him. Ronald Reagan also promised greater administrative power to the individual states.

The elections were further complicated by the challenge posed by Independent Presidential challenger John Bayard Anderson. Anderson defected from the Republican party as he opposed Reagan’s hawkish conservative views. Patrick Lucey was his running mate. The 1980 US election was also saw the participation of the Libertarian Party candidate- Ed Clark and Barry Commoner of the Citizens Party.

Ronald Reagan won the 1980 US presidential elections on the basis of a largely negative campaign trail. He defeated Jimmy Carter by a margin of nearly 10 percent of popular votes to get elected as the President of the United States of America. He also helped the Republican party to take control of the US Senate. Reagan garnered 489 electoral votes compared to Carter’s total of 49. Anderson put up a surprise show by harnessing 6.6% of the popular votes. Ed Clark got more than 9,00,000 popular votes. The final tally of the percentage of popular votes received by each candidate was as follows:

  • Ronald Wilson Reagan- 50.7%
  • James Earl Carter-41%
  • John Bayard Anderson-6.6%
  • Ed Clark-1.1%
  • Barry Commoner-0.3%

Related Maps