The 1980 U.S. presidential election was a contest between incumbent Democrat President Jimmy Carter and Republican candidate, former California Governor Ronald Reagan. Additionally, Republican John B. Anderson ran as an independent candidate.
President Carter received opposition for renomination from Senator Ted Kennedy, the brother of the late President John F. Kennedy. President Carter’s campaign was boosted by the hostage crisis in Iran that started in 1979, as Americans rally around the president in times of crisis. His nomination was allegedly solidified at a Democratic convention in New York City where Ted Kennedy avoided shaking Carter’s hand.
Ronald Reagan was originally a Democrat but turned to the Republican Party and was first elected as Governor of California in 1966. He served two terms as the governor and unsuccessfully ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 and 1976.
Some major topics at the time included issues such as rising unemployment, rising inflation, the hostage crisis in Iran, and the Cold War with the USSR. Despite this, most of the campaign was spent y the two candidates taking jabs at one another. Reagan shamed the “big government” and Carter’s unpopular stances on the need for energy conservation, as well as doubted his and his administration’s competence. Carter spent most of his campaign attacking Reagan for being an “extremist.”
The only presidential debate was held one week before the election. To the American observers, Carter had won the debate on substance. Reagan’s calm and moderate tone had helped get rid of any “dangerous” or “extremist” views people may have had of him thanks to Carter’s portrayal of him.
On November 4th, 1980, the American people voted for their new president.
President Jimmy Carter won the following states:
- District of Columbia
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Ronald Reagan won the following states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Ronald Reagan won the election by a landslide. Ronald Reagan received 43,901,812 votes and Jimmy Carter received 35,483,820 votes. Reagan received 489 electoral votes while Carter only received 49. Independent candidate John Anderson received 5,719,850 votes but did not receive any electoral votes.
Ronald Reagan became the 40th president of the United States and was inaugurated on January 20, 1981.