1980 Presidential Campaign

4 April 2015
Examines reasons why Carter lost & Reagan won. Looks at their styles, personalities, political rhetoric, issues and voter responses.

In the 1980 presidential elections, Ronald Reagan trounced incumbent president Jimmy Carter in the biggest defeat of a president since Franklin D. Roosevelt overwhelmed Herbert Hoover in 1932. Though the American economy was in poor shape in 1980, the problems did not begin to approach the scale of the Great Depression, for which Hoover had been blamed. Nor can President Carter’s ill-timed problems with foreign affairs receive all of the blame for his defeat. These factors played major roles in the election, but it was the sharp contrast between the candidates, in terms of ideas, images and campaigns, that resulted in the defeat of an incumbent president, and the election of one of the most popular leaders in American history. In all of these areas, Carter’s failures were met by Reagan’s successes. Carter was trapped by his 1976 campaign promises.

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