1980

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS

OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1980

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

OVERVIEW

Election Year: 1980

Election Day Date: November 4, 1980

Winning Ticket: Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Republican 43,903,230 50.75% 489 90.9%

Losing Ticket(s):

  • James Carter, Walter Mondale, Democratic 35,480,115 41.01% 49 9.1%
  • John Anderson, Patrick Lucey, Independent 5,719,850 6.61% 0 0.0%
  • Edward Clark, David Koch, Libertarian 921,128 1.06% 0 0.0%
  • Barry Commoner LaDonna Harris, Citizens 233,052 0.27% 0 0.0%
  • Other (+) – – 252,303 0.29% 0 0.0%

Voter Turnout:

  • Total VAP 164,597,000
  • Total REG 113,068,956
  • Total Vote 86,509,678
  • %VAP 52.6%
  • %REG 76.5%

Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters:

Speeches, rallies, television/print ads, debates

Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:

Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:

James Earl Carter, Jr., Walter Mondale, Democratic, 1977-1981

Population: 1980: 227,726,000

Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $2,788.1 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $5,839.0 GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%) 47.75 Population (in thousands): 227,726
Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $12,243 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $25,640

Number of Daily Newspapers: 1,745 (1980)

Average Daily Circulation: 62,201,840 (1980)

Households with:

  • Radio 79,968,240 (1980)
  • Television 76,300,000 (1980)

Method of Choosing Electors: Popular vote (mostly General Ticket/Winner Take All)

Method of Choosing Nominees: Presidential preference primaries and caucuses

Central Issues:

  • Iran hostage crisis (1979);
  • Energy crisis (rise in oil prices) economy (double-digit inflation, increased interest rates; productivity down; unemployment);
  • Carter’s “Malaise” speech (national malaise); “crisis of confidence”
  • Carter’s leadership in foreign and domestic affairs; lack of control over events;
  • American’s wanted less government involvement; Californians voted for Proposition 13 in 1978, which decreased property taxes

Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):

Republican Party candidates:

  • Ronald Reagan, Former Governor of California
  • George H. W. Bush, Former CIA director (Texas)
  • John B. Anderson, Representative of Illinois
  • Howard Baker, Senate Minority Leader of Tennessee
  • Phil Crane, Representative of Illinois
  • John Connally, Former Governor of Texas
  • Bob Dole, Senator (Kansas)
  • Ben Fernandez, Former Special Ambassador to Paraguay (California)
  • Governor Harold Stassen, Former of Minnesota
  • Lowell Weicker, Senator of Connecticut

Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):

  • Democrats blamed Carter for the country’s foreign and domestic problems, Iran hostage crisis; Carter’s approval ratings, 28% (Gallup);
  • Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy challenged Carter for the Democratic Presidential nomination
  • No apparent Republican frontrunner candidate, however, Former California governor Ronald Reagan (conservative wing) had been unofficially campaigning for the nomination since he lost the 1976 nomination to Ford by only 117 votes

Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries):

Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries):

Edward “Ted” Kennedy; George H. W. Bush; Illinois Congressman John Anderson;

former Secretary of the Treasury John B. Connally; Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee; Senator Robert Dole of Kansas

Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):

Republican Party:

  • Reagan had been working earnestly since 1977 to capture the nomination in 1980; toured the country, meeting and speaking to the public garnering support; fundraising; organizing a staff. His message “get the government off our backs.”
  • Reagan faced competition to the nomination primarily by Former United Nations Ambassador George Herbert Walker Bush (Texas), other candidates included John Connally, Howard Baker, John Anderson, Reagan represented the conservative wing; Bush, the moderates; Anderson, the liberal wing (least successful in the primaries as a result)
  • John Connally, Howard Baker withdrew early from the campaign
  • Anderson withdrew in April 1980
  • Bush won the Iowa Caucus announced “big mo” (momentum); won a total of 6 primaries
  • Reagan won the New Hampshire primary and won a total of 29 primaries

Democratic Party:

  • Summer 1979, prior to Kennedy’s official candidacy announcement he led President Carter by a 2-1 margin
  • On Labor Day, 1979, Kennedy announced his candidacy, draft Kennedy movement
  • On November 4, 1979, Iranians student revolutionaries in the stormed the U.S. Embassy in Teheran and took Americans hostage; They were protested the United States for permitting the deposed Shah of Iran, Mohammed Riza Pahlevi to enter the country for medical treatments; The revolutionaries threatened to either murder or put the hostages on trial unless the US returned the Shah
  • Instead, Carter, allowed the Shah to complete his treatment, froze Iranian assets and requested assistance from the United Nations;
  • After the Iranian hostage crisis began, Kennedy lost traction; increased support for the President in time of national crisis, Kennedy’s lead vanished by December 1979
  • Kennedy’s own actions contributed to his drop in support; in a CBS interview on November with Roger Mudd for in November, was awkward and incoherent in responses about the Chappaquiddick incident, and especially in response to the question “Why do you want to be President?”
  • In a later interview Kennedy called the Shah’s “one of the most violent regimes in the history of mankind”; afterward the New York Post ran the headline “Teddy Is the Toast of Teheran.”
  • Kennedy lost: Iowa caucus, and New Hampshire, won 10 primaries,
  • Carter won 24 primaries and led in the delegation count prior to commencement of the convention, the hostage crisis helped Carter recapture the nomination, but stalled negotiations hurt his chances for reelection
  • Carter refused to debate Kennedy in Spring 1980

Primaries Quotations:

  • “voodoo economics” George H. W. Bush

“I’ll whip his ass.” President Jimmy Carter after Edward Kennedy announcement his intention to run against him for the Democratic nomination

“The 1980 election should not be a plebiscite on Ayatollah [Ruhollah Khomeini] or Afghanistan. The real question is whether America can risk four more years of uncertain policy and certain crisis — of an administration that tells us to rally around their failures — of an inconsistent non-policy that may confront us with a stark choice between retreat and war. These issues must be debated in this campaign.” Edward Kennedy, ‘Sometimes a Party Must Sail Against the Wind’,   Georgetown University, January 28, 1980

“At the height of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, ‘I have but one task and that is to save the Union.’ Now I must devote my considered efforts to resolving the Iranian crisis.” Jimmy Carter

“If I should do anything to lessen the importance paid by us to the hostages’ lives and safety and freedom, it would obviously be a reflection on our own Nation’s principles.” Jimmy Carter

Primaries:

  • Democratic 34* 71.8% delegates (no Vermont, non-binding primary)
  • Republican 35* 76.0% delegates (no Vermont, non-binding primary)

Primaries Results:

Republican Party: Jun 03, 1980

  • Ronald Wilson Reagan: 7,709,793, 59.79%
  • George Herbert Walker Bush: 3,070,033, 23.81%
  • John B. Anderson: 1,572,174, 12.19%
  • Howard Baker: 181,153, 1.40%
  • Philip M. Crane: 97,793, 0.76%
  • John B. Connally: 82,625, 0.64%
  • Unpledged: 68,155, 0.53%
  • Others: 33,217, 0.26%

Democratic Party: Jun 03, 1980

  • Jimmy Carter(I): 10,043,016, 51.11%
  • Edward “Ted” Kennedy: 7,381,693, 37.57%
  • Unpledged: 1,288,423, 6.56%
  • Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr.: 575,296, 2.93%
  • Lyndon H. LaRouche, Jr.: 177,784, 0.90%
  • Others: 79,352, 0.40%

Conventions (Dates & Locations):

  • Republican National Convention: July 14-17, 1980, Joe Louis Arena; Detroit, 1st ballot, Ronald W. Reagan (California), George H. W. Bush (Texas)
  • Democratic National Convention: August 11-14, 1980, Madison Square Garden; New York, Tip O’Neill (Massachusetts), 1st ballot, Jimmy Carter (Georgia),   Walter Mondale (Minnesota)

Convention Turning Points:

Republican National Convention:

  • Reagan engaged in negotiations to offer Gerald Ford the Vice Presidential nomination, Republicans considered it a “dream ticket”; part of the negotiations included increased responsibilities for Ford. Although when CBS Walter Cronkite interviewed Ford and called the it a copresidency; negotiations ceased
  • Reagan broke precedent and announced himself at the convention  his choice for his running mate was former opponent George H.W. Bush

Democratic National Convention:

  • Conflict between the Carter and Kennedy camps
  • Kennedy refused to cede the nomination, wanted a rule passed in 1978 overruled, the delegates would not oblige, also Kennedy wanted an “open” convention  adopted which would release delegates from voting for the candidates they were pledged to in the primaries on the first ballot. The rule was defeated, prompting Kennedy to withdraw his name from the nomination
  • Battle over the party platform; 17 hours of debate and roll call votes
  • Senator Kennedy devised the compromise platform, reflected his liberal ideology especially concerning economic policy
  • Kennedy’s speech on the economic minority plank, prompted a “40-minute emotional demonstration on the convention floor”
  • Carter’s speech disappointed in contrast
  • After Carter’s acceptance speech, Kennedy made the candidates and convention wait until he joined the party on the podium, and although he shook Carter’s hand, he did not raise his hands, the tradition salute of unity; showing party disunity on television to the voters

Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:

Republican Party nomination:

Presidential 1st ballot

  • Gov. Ronald Wilson Reagan 1,939 (97.44%)
  • Rep. John B. Anderson 37 (1.86%)
  • C.I.A. Director George Herbert Walker Bush 13 (0.65%)
  • Ambassador Anne L. Armstrong1 (0.05%)

Democratic Party nomination:

Presidential 1st ballot

  • Pres. Jimmy Carter (I) 2,123 (64.04%)
  • Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy 1,151 (34.72%)
  • Sen. William Proxmire 10 (0.30%)
  • Koryne Kaneski Horbal 5 (0.15%)
  • Gov. Scott M. Matheson, Sr. 5 (0.15%)
  • Rep. Ronald V. “Ron” Dellums 3 (0.09%)
  • Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd 2 (0.06%)

Third Party Candidates & Nominations:

Independent, National Unity:

  • John Bayard Anderson, congressman from Illinois, Patrick Lucey, a Democratic former Governor of Wisconsin and then Ambassador to Mexico, appointed by President Carter; moderate Republican alternative to Reagan’s conservatism; Support of the Liberal Party in New York State; on the ballot in all 50 states.
  • Supported gun control, strategic arms limitation agreement with Russia, Equal Rights Amendment, fifty cents tax on a gallon on oil; revitalize mass transportation systems.
  • Libertarian Party Nomination: President Edward Clark; Vice President David H. Koch for (one million votes and were on the ballot in all 50 states)
  • Socialist Party USA: David McReynolds for President; Vice President Sister Diane Drufenbrock for (first openly gay man to run for President)
  • Citizens Party: Barry Commoner; La Donna Harris
  • Communist Party USA: President Gus Hall; Vice President Angela Davis
  • Rock star Joe Walsh ran a mock campaign as a write-in candidate, promising to make his song “Life’s Been Good” the new national anthem if he won, and running on a platform of “Free Gas For Everyone.”

Convention Keynote Speaker:

Nominating Speech Speakers (President):

Party Platform/Issues:

  • Republican Party: “make American great again.” restoration of the nation’s military strength; national security; defense spending increase; supply-side economic policy; balanced budget within three years (“the beginning of the end of inflation”); 30% reduction; lower taxes; repeal the “Windfall Profit Tax”; welfare rolls; the Republican Party dropped their endorsement of ERA Equal Rights Amendment after 40 years of support; dedication to women’s rights, appoint a women to cabinet, first female justice to the Supreme Court;
  • Democratic Party: No “grand plan”; Inclusion of Kennedy proposals on wage and price controls; Supported the Equal Rights Amendment; Criticized Reagan’s economic plan, but did not present an alternative

General Election Controversies/Issues:

  • Negative campaign; “Both Carter and Reagan were perceived negatively by a majority of the electorate”;
  • “meanness issue”; war-or-peace issue; age issue
  • Billygate: Revelation that Carter’s brother had accepted $220,000 for lobbying from the Libyan government

Campaign Innovations (General Election): 

October Surprise theory;

Major Personalities (General Election): Jerry Falwell (Moral Majority); Leon Jaworski (former Watergate scandal prosecutor)

Campaign Tactics:

Republican Party:

  • Masterful use of the media; radio, television; skillfully avoided  difficult questions, “the Great Deflector”; “the greatest television candidate in history.”
  • Plagued by some verbal gaffes that both Carter and the media used against him;

Democratic Party:

  • Rather than defend his own record, Carter attacked Reagan; portrayed him as an extremist; a racist and warmonger, appeared mean spirited according to the public

Debates:

  • September 21, 1980 Presidential Debate in Baltimore (Reagan-Anderson)
  • October 28, 1980 Presidential Debate in Cleveland.
  • The League of Women Voters sponsored the debates for 1980; three presidential, one vice presidential.
  • Anderson invited to debate with the major party candidates because of his poll standing, Carter was not interested in participating in the debates this time, but especially refused to debate with Anderson, Reagan refused to debate without Anderson’s participation.
  • First debate, September 21, moderated by Bill Moyers, Baltimore, Maryland with Reagan and Anderson; candidates spent most of the debate criticizing Carter for not participating.
  • Anderson inclusion of exclusion in the remaining debates remained a point of contention, second Presidential debate, Vice Presidential debate cancelled as a result.
  • Nearing the end, Reagan agreed to Carter’s demands for the debate.
  • Second debate, October 28, 1980, Cleveland, Ohio, Moderated by Howard K. Smith, turning point of campaign; 100,000,000 viewers; No other Presidential debates in subsequent elections have changed the course of a campaign as in 1980.
  • Topics included: Iranian hostage crisis, and nuclear arms treaties and proliferation
  • Carter attempted to portray Reagan as a “hawk” and too conservative, votes against Medicare and Social Security benefits as governor.
  • Reagan demeanor, sunny, tolerant, calm, reasonable and responsible.
  • Carter’s claim that he consulted with his 12-year-old daughter Amy about nuclear weapons policy (post-debate analysis and late-night television jokes), “the control of nuclear arms.”
  • Reagan’s masterful debate conclusion swayed independent and undecided voters “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

Turning Points (General Election):

  • Anderson had been as high as 20% prior to the Presidential debate, right after the debate dropped to over 10%, dropped to about 5% afterwards.
  • Second Presidential debate, turned the campaign in Reagan’s favor.
  • October Surprise: Republican candidate Ronald Reagan’s campaign strategists, fearful of a late-breaking deal ending the Iranian hostage crisis, warned the public about the possibility Jimmy Carter could use the presidency to manipulate events and win the election.
  • To neutralize the effect on the country of an “October Surprise,” Reagan and his strategists continually mentioned the possibility of something happening at the last minute. They believed that by bringing up the issue in advance the voters would see it as a cynical bid for votes rather than as the product of careful statesmanship. As Reagan said on a Tampa Bay television station in early October: “Presidents can make things happen you know.” With the one year anniversary of the hostage taking approaching on Election Day, Reagan’s comments were intended to cause public cynicism. The hostages were released within an hour of Reagan’s inauguration.

Popular Campaign Slogans:

Republican:

  • “Let’s Make America Great Again”
  • “The Time is Now”

Democrat:

  • “Carter-Mondale: Keep them Working For You”

“Re-Elect Carter Mondale: A Tested and Trust Worthy Team”

Campaign Song:

  • Republican: Ronald Reagan “California Here We Come”

Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:

  • Political cartoon, published the day after the election, showed Amy Carter sitting in Jimmy’s lap with her shoulders shrugged asking “the economy?, the hostage crisis?”

Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):

  • Carter and Reagan received $29.4 million each
  • Anderson limit of $18.5 million allowed private fund-raising
  • Carter and Reagan each about $15 million on television ads, Anderson under $2 million
  • Reagan spent $29.2 million in total
  • Carter $29.4 million
  • Anderson $17.6 million (Federal Election Commission funds after election)

Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):

  • “I’m told I can’t use the word depression. Well, I’ll tell you the definition. A recession is when your neighbor loses his job and a depression is when you lose your job. Recovery is when Jimmy Carter loses his!”Ronald Reagan
  • “Are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less employment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago? If you answer all of these questions yes, why then I think your choice is very obvious as to who you’ll vote for. If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have.” Ronald Reagan conclusion second Presidential debate, 1980
  • “There you go again” Ronald Reagan about Jimmy Carter during their 1980 presidential debate
  • “I used to fantasize, what it would be like if everyone in government would quietly slip away and close the doors and disappear. See how long it would take the people of this country to miss them. I think that life would go on, and the people would keep right on doing the things they are doing, and we would get along a lot better than we think.” Ronald Reagan about big government
  • “We must have the clarity of vision to see the difference between what is essential and what is merely desirable, and then the courage to bring our government back under control and make it acceptable to the people.” Ronald Reagan, First Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech July 17, 1980

Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):

  • “I had a discussion with my daughter Amy the other day, before I came here, to ask her what the most important issue was. She said she thought nuclear weapons and the control of nuclear arms.” Jimmy Carter second Presidential debate
  • “Americans might be separated, black from white, Jew from Christian, North from South, rural from urban.”…..”will help to decide what kind of world we live in. It will help to decide whether we have war or peace. It’s an awesome choice.” Jimmy Carter attacks on Reagan as an extremist
  • “I’ve learned that for a President, experience is the best guide to the right decisions. I’m wiser tonight than I was 4 years ago.” Jimmy Carter, Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the 1980 Democratic National Convention in New York, Remarks August 14, 1980
  • “What’s to spoil? Spoil the chances of two men at least half the country doesn’t want?” John Anderson on charges he was a spoiler in the campaign

Campaign Quotations:

  • “I would rather have a competent extremist than an incompetent moderate.” Former Watergate scandal prosecutor Leon Jaworski after accepting the honorary Democrats for Reagan chairmanship, in September 1980
  • “We’re talking big and not doing anything abroad. We’re losing credibility around the world. We’re becoming a joke. And that just typifies Carter’s ineffectiveness. . . . I think I’ll vote for Reagan. . . . I think he’ll act with more strength. I worry though, that he engages his mouth before his brain is in gear. I worry about that in a delicate foreign situation. What I’d really like is to have, along with the lines for the candidates, a ‘no preference’ line on the ballot.” Young Pennsylvania industrial safety worker about the candidates, mid-October 1980
  • The hostage crisis, had come to symbolize the collective frustration of the American people. And in that sense, the President’s chances for re-election probably died on the desert of Iran with eight brave soldiers who gave their lives trying to free the American hostages.” Hamilton Jordan, Carter’s chief strategist

Further Reading: 

  • Busch, Andrew E. Reagan’s Victory: The Presidential Election of 1980 and the Rise of the Right. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, (2005).

Lasting Legacy of Campaign:

  • Anti-Carter vote, public was not attached to either candidate, though they preferred to vote out ineffective Jimmy Carter
  • Start of the Reagan Revolution.

CHRONOLOGY

  •  1978: the Kemp-Roth tax cut bill
  • September 5-17, 1978: “Carter mediates talks between Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt at Camp David, resulting in a peace treaty between the two nations.”
  • October 15, 1978: “Congress passes a revised energy bill eighteen months after Carter proposed it. Congress also passes the Humphrey-Hawkins full employment bill.” Energy crisis (rise in oil prices) economy (double-digit inflation, increased interest rates; productivity down; unemployment)
  • 1978: American’s wanted less government involvement; Californians voted for Proposition 13 in 1978, which decreased property taxes
  • April 20, 1979: “President Carter claims a rabbit tried to attack him during a fishing trip in Georgia, and the Washington Post runs a front page story with the headline: “President Attacked by Rabbit.””
  • June 21, 1979: Prohibition Party Convention nominates Benjamin C. Bubar for President.
  • July 15, 1979: “Carter delivers what becomes known as his “malaise speech,” blaming the problems of the nation on “a crisis of spirit.”” Carter’s “Malaise” speech (national malaise); “crisis of confidence”
  • July 18-19, 1979: “Carter accepts the resignations of five cabinet members and names Hamilton Jordan chief of staff.”
  • Summer 1979: Prior to Kennedy’s official candidacy announcement he led President Carter by a 2-1 margin.
  • August 14, 1979: Socialist Workers Party Convention nominates Cleve Andrew Pulley for President.
  • Labor Day, 1979: Kennedy announces his candidacy, draft Kennedy movement.  Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy challenges Carter for the Democratic Presidential nomination
  • September 9, 1979: Libertarian Party Convention nominates Edward E. “Ed” Clark for President.
  • September 14, 1979: “A Washington Post poll gives Carter the lowest approval rating of any President in three decades.”
  • September 15, 1979: “Carter collapses in 10K race, leading the press to depict the event as representative of the strength of his presidency.”
  • November 4, 1979: Iran hostage crisis “Iranian students take sixty-six Americans hostage at the American embassy in Tehran.” Iran hostage crisis; Carter’s approval ratings, 28% (Gallup); Iranians student revolutionaries storm the U.S. Embassy in Teheran and take Americans hostage; They were protesting the United States for permitting the deposed Shah of Iran, Mohammed Riza Pahlevi to enter the country for medical treatments. The revolutionaries threaten to either murder or put the hostages on trial unless the US returns the Shah. Instead, Carter, allows the Shah to complete his treatment, freezes Iranian assets and requests assistance from the United Nations.
  • November 13, 1979: “Reagan announces his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President. He is the tenth and last Republican to enter the race.” Reagan working earnestly since 1977 to capture the nomination, Reagan tours the country, meeting and speaking to the public garnering support.
  • November 18, 1979: Communist Party Convention nominates Gus Hall for President.
  • November 1979: Kennedy’s own actions contribute to his drop in support; in a CBS interview on November with Roger Mudd is awkward and incoherent in responses about the Chappaquiddick incident, and especially in response to the question “Why do you want to be President?”
  • December 9, 1979: American Independent Party Convention nominates Percy L. Greaves Jr for President.
  • December 4, 1979: “Carter officially announces his candidacy for reelection.”
  • No apparent Republican frontrunner candidate, however, Former California governor Ronald Reagan (conservative wing) had been unofficially campaigning for the nomination since he lost the 1976 nomination to Ford by only 117 votes
  • December 1979: After the Iranian hostage crisis began, Kennedy loses traction. The public support for the President in time of national crisis increases, Kennedy’s lead vanishes.
  • In a later interview Kennedy called the Shah’s “one of the most violent regimes in the history of mankind”; afterwards the New York Post ran the headline “Teddy Is the Toast of Teheran.”
  • John Connally, Howard Baker withdraws early from the campaign
  • January 3-4, 1980: “Due to the invasion of Afghanistan, Carter asks the Senate to table its consideration of SALT II. He also placed an embargo on grain sales to the Soviet Union and suggests the possibility of boycotting the Summer Olympics in Moscow.”
  • January 23, 1980: “Carter announces the “Carter Doctrine” in his State of the Union address, asserting that threats to the Persian Gulf region will be viewed as “an assault of the vital interests of the United States.””
  • January 21, 1980: Iowa caucuses (both parties) Ambassador George Herbert Walker Bush (Texas) wins the Iowa Caucus announces “big mo” (momentum); wins a total of 6 primaries Iowa Caucus Republican Ronald Reagan 30%, George H.W. Bush 32%,  Howard Baker 15% Kennedy loses: Iowa caucus, and New Hampshire, wins a total of 10 primaries,
  • January 22: Hawaii Republican caucuses
  • fundraising; organizing a staff. His messages “get the government off our backs.”
  • February 1-15, 1980: Maine Republican caucuses
  • February 2, 1980: Arkansas Republican caucuses
  • February 4-5, 1980: Wyoming Republican caucuses
  • February 10, 1980: Maine Democratic caucuses
  • February 17, 1980: Puerto Rico Primary Republican George H.W. Bush 60% John Anderson 37%
  • February 23, 1980: “‘Ambush at Nashua’ debate with George Bush. The debate also includes other Republican candidates John Anderson, Howard Baker, Phil Crane and Bob Dole.”
  • February 24, 1980: Socialist Party Convention nominates David McReynolds for President.
  • February 26, 1980: Minnesota caucuses (both parties), New Hampshire primary
    Reagan wins the New Hampshire primary, and wins a total of 29 primaries. New Hampshire Primary Republican Ronald Reagan 50% George H.W. Bush 23% John Anderson 10%
  • March: Virginia Republican caucuses (through April)
  • March 4, 1980: Massachusetts primary, Vermont primary (beauty contest–no delegates at stake) Massachusetts Primary Republican Ronald Reagan 29% George H.W. Bush 31% John Anderson 31%
  • March 4 Vermont Primary Ronald Reagan 30% George H.W. Bush 22% John Anderson 29% Howard Baker 12%
  • March 8, 1980: South Carolina Republican primary (party-run) South Carolina Primary Republican Ronald Reagan 55% George H.W. Bush 15%
  • March 11, 1980: Alabama primary, Alaska Democratic caucuses, Florida primary, Georgia primary, Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Oklahoma Democratic caucuses, Washington caucuses (both parties)
    1. Alabama Primary Republican Ronald Reagan 70% George H.W. Bush 26;
    2. Florida Primary Republican Ronald Reagan 56% George H.W. Bush 30% John Anderson 9%;
    3. Georgia Primary Republican Ronald Reagan 73% George H.W. Bush 13% John Anderson 8%
  • March 12: Delaware Democratic caucuses
  • March 14, 1980: “Carter announces his anti-inflation program which includes a proposal for a balanced budget for fiscal year 1981.”
  • March 15: Mississippi Democratic caucuses, South Carolina Democratic caucuses, Wyoming Democratic caucuses
  • March 18, 1980: Illinois primary Republican Ronald Reagan 49% George H.W. Bush 11% John Anderson 36%
  • March 21: North Dakota Republican caucuses
  • March 22: Virginia Democratic caucuses
  • March 25, 1980: Connecticut primary, New York primary. Connecticut Primary Republican Ronald Reagan 34% George H.W. Bush 39% John Anderson 22%
  • April 1, 1980:  Kansas primary, Wisconsin primary. Kansas Primary Republican: Ronald Reagan 63% George H.W. Bush 13% John Anderson 18% Howard Baker 1% John Connally 1%Wisconsin
  • Ronald Reagan 40% George H.W. Bush 30% John Anderson 27%
  • April 1980: Anderson withdrew
  • April 5, 1980: Louisiana primary, Missouri Republican caucuses (through April 12) Louisiana Ronald Reagan 74% George H.W. Bush 19%
  • April 7: Oklahoma Republican caucuses
  • April 12: Arizona Democratic caucuses
  • April 13: Arizona Republican committee meeting (& caucuses)
  • April 13, 1980: Citizen’s Party Convention nominates Barry Commoner for President.
  • April 17: Idaho Democratic caucuses
  • April 17, 1980: “Carter announces that the economy is in recession, with the inflation rates hitting ten percent and interest rates climbing to eighteen percent.”
  • April 19: Alaska Republican convention (through April 20), North Dakota Democratic caucuses
  • April 22, 1980: Missouri Democratic caucuses, Pennsylvania primary, Vermont caucuses (both parties). Pennsylvania, Republican: Ronald Reagan 43% George H.W. Bush 50% John Anderson 2% Howard Baker 3% John Connally 1%
  • April 22, 1980: “The U.S. Olympic Committee votes to boycott the Moscow summer Olympics, supporting Carter in protesting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.”
  • April 25, 1980: “Carter announces the failure of “Desert One,” the mission to rescue the Iranian-held hostages, and that several American military personnel had been killed.”
  • April 26: Michigan Democratic caucuses
  • April 30: Delaware Republican committee meeting (& caucuses)
  • May 3, 1980:  Texas primary (Republicans), Texas Democratic caucuses.
    Texas Primary Republican: Ronald Reagan 53% George H.W. Bush 46%
  • May 5: Colorado caucuses (both parties)
  • May 6, 1980: Indiana primary, North Carolina primary, Tennessee primary
    1. Washington, D.C. Primary Republican: George H.W. Bush 66% John Anderson 27%;
    2. Indiana Primary Republican, Ronald Reagan 74% George H.W. Bush 16% John Anderson 10% 0% 0% Phil Crane 4% 0%;
    3. North Carolina Primary Republican,  Ronald Reagan 68% George H.W. Bush 22% John Anderson 5%;
    4. Tennessee Primary Republican, Ronald Reagan 74% George H.W. Bush 18% John Anderson 4%
  • May 13, 1980:  Maryland primary, Nebraska primary
    1. Maryland Ronald Reagan 48% George H.W. Bush 41% John Anderson 10% 0% 0% Phil Crane 1 % 0%;
    2. Nebraska Ronald Reagan 76% George H.W. Bush 15% John Anderson 6% 0% 0% Phil Crane 1% Bob Dole 1%
  • May 19: Utah caucuses (both parties)
  • May 20, 1980:  Michigan primary (Republicans), Oregon primary
    1. Michigan Ronald Reagan 32% George H.W. Bush 57% John Anderson 8% 0% 0% Phil Crane 1% Bob Dole 1%;
    2. Oregon Ronald Reagan 54% George H.W. Bush 35% John Anderson 10% 0% 0% Phil Crane 1% 0%
  • May 27, 1980:  Arkansas primary (Democrats), Idaho primary (Republicans), Kentucky primary, Nevada primary
  • Idaho Republican: Ronald Reagan 83% George H.W. Bush 4% John Anderson 10% Phil Crane 1%;
    1. Kentucky, Republican:  Ronald Reagan 82% George H.W. Bush 7% John Anderson  5%;
    2. Nevada Ronald Reagan 83% George H.W. Bush 4% John Anderson 10% Phil Crane 1 %
  • Carter wins 24 primaries and leads in the delegation count prior to commencement of the convention, the hostage crisis helps Carter recapture the nomination, but stalled negotiations hurt his chances for reelection
  • Spring 1980: Carter refuses to debate Kennedy for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
  • June 1980: “Carter’s approval rating reaches the lowest mark of any President since 1945.”
  • June 3, 1980: California primary, Mississippi Republican primary (party-run), Montana primary (Democrats), New Jersey primary, New Mexico primary, Ohio primary, Rhode Island primary, South Dakota primary, West Virginia primary
  • California Primary Republican, Ronald Reagan 80% George H.W. Bush 5% John Anderson 14%;
  • Mississippi Primary Republican, Ronald Reagan 89% George H.W. Bush 8%;
  • Montana Ronald Reagan 87% George H.W. Bush 10%;
  • New Jersey Ronald Reagan 81% George H.W. Bush 17% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%;
  • New Mexico Ronald Reagan 64% George H.W. Bush 10% John Anderson 12% Phil Crane 7% 0%;
  • Ohio Ronald Reagan 81% George H.W. Bush 19%;
  • Rhode Island Ronald Reagan 72% George H.W. Bush 19%;
  • South Dakota Ronald Reagan 88% George H.W. Bush 4%;
  • West Virginia Ronald Reagan 84% George H.W. Bush 14%
  • June 4-12, 1988: Montana Republican caucuses
  • July 1, 1980: Peace & Freedom Party Campaign nominates Maureen Smith for President.
  • July 1, 1980: Workers’ World Party Campaign nominates Deirdre Griswold for President.
  • July 1, 1980: Right to Life Party Campaign nominates Ellen McCormack for President.
  • July 14-17, 1980: Republican National Convention convenes at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, and nominates on the 1st ballot Ronald W. Reagan (California) for President, and George H. W. Bush (Texas) for Vice President.  Reagan engages in negotiations to offer Gerald Ford the Vice Presidential nomination, Republicans consider it a “dream ticket”; part of the negotiations included increased responsibilities for Ford. Although when CBS News’ Walter Cronkite interviews Ford and calls it a co presidency, negotiations ceases.
  • July 16, 1980: Reagan breaks precedent and announced himself at the convention his choice for his running mate is former opponent George H.W. Bush.
  • July 17, 1980: Ronald Reagan gives an address accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Detroit.
  • July 25, 1980: “Carter signs Presidential Directive 59 advocating a strategy for fighting a “limited” nuclear war.”
  • August 10, 1980: “Despite new surveys showing Democrats nationwide in favor of an “open” convention, proponents of the idea conceded that they still lacked 75 to 100 delegate votes to block the proposed “faithful delegate” rule that would insure President Carter’s renomination at the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night.” (NYT)
  • August 11-14, 1980: Democratic National Convention convenes at Madison Square Garden in New York. Tip O’Neill (Massachusetts) serves as chairman. The convention renominates on the 1st ballot Jimmy Carter (Georgia) for President, and Walter Mondale (Minnesota) for Vice President. There is a conflict between the Carter and Kennedy camps. Kennedy refuses to cede the nomination wants a rule passed in 1978 overruled, the delegates would not oblige, also Kennedy wanted an “open” convention  adopted, which would release delegates from voting for the candidates they were pledged to in the primaries on the first ballot. The rule is defeated, prompting Kennedy to withdraw his name from the nomination. There is a battle over the party platform; 17 hours of debate and roll call votes. Senator Kennedy devises the compromise platform, reflects his liberal ideology especially concerning economic policy within the plank. Kennedy’s speech on the economic minority plank prompts a “40-minute emotional demonstration on the convention floor” Carter’s speech disappoints in contrast.
  • August 14, 1980: Jimmy Carter gives an address accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Republican National Convention in Detroit. After Carter’s acceptance speech, Kennedy made the candidates and convention wait until he joined the party on the podium, and although he shook Carter’s hand, he did not raise his hands, the tradition salute of unity; showing party disunity on television to the voters.
  • August 25, 1980: National Unity Party Campaign John B. Anderson is nominated President.
  • August 30, 1980: American Independent Party Convention nominates John R. Rarick for President.
  • August 1, 1980: Billygate: Revelation that Carter’s brother had accepted $220,000 for lobbying from the Libyan government. “Jimmy Carter the President who campaigns against Washington’s ingrown camaraderie, has never seemed more alone here than this week as all the machinery and panoply of a full-scale Congressional investigation quickly, almost hungrily, begins to focus on the problems and secrets of his brother Billy.” (NYT)
  • 1980: The League of Women Voters sponsors the debates for 1980; three presidential, one vice presidential. Anderson is invited to debate with the major party candidates because of his poll standing, Carter is not interested in participating in the debates this time, but especially refused to debate with Anderson, Reagan refuses to debate without Anderson’s participation.
  • September 21, 1980: First Presidential Debate in Baltimore (Reagan-Anderson), is moderated by Bill Moyers, Baltimore, Maryland with Reagan and Anderson; candidates spend most of the debate criticizing Carter for not participating.
  • Anderson had been as high as 20% prior to the Presidential debate, right after the debate dropped to over 10%, dropped to about 5% afterwards
  • September-October 1980: Anderson inclusion or exclusion in the remaining debates remains a point of contention, second Presidential debate, Vice Presidential debate is cancelled as a result. Nearing the end, Reagan agrees to Carter’s demands for the debate.
  • September 25, 1980: Reagan speaks to an audience of production workers in Sunnydale, California, where he started his campaign for governor in 1966. Reagan blames Carter for the position of the economy, and for decreased production. Reagan emphasizes, “In place of imagination, Jimmy Carter says we must have regulation. In place of ingenuity, he says we must have conformity to federal guidelines. In place of expansion, he says we must have restriction. In place of growth he says we must be content with the status quo.”
  • October 7, 1980: In a speech in Philadelphia Reagan claims that Carter had been manipulating statistics to appear the situation for Americans had actually improved during his term in office. Reagan states that his plan would restore “predictability and stability to economic policy,” and would “gradually reduce inflation and unemployment at the same time.”
  • October 1980: October Surprise: Republican candidate Ronald Reagan’s campaign strategists, fearful of a late-breaking deal ending the Iranian hostage crisis, and warn the public about the possibility Jimmy Carter could use the presidency to manipulate events and win the election.
  • October 1980: To neutralize the effect on the country of an “October Surprise,” Reagan and his strategists continually mention the possibility of something happening at the last minute. They believe that by bringing up the issue in advance the voters would see it as a cynical bid for votes rather than as the product of careful statesmanship. As Reagan says on a Tampa Bay television station in early October, “Presidents can make things happen you know.”
  • October 10, 1980: “President Carter, campaigning in Florida, contends that Ronald Reagan’s record indicates he would not be “a good man to trust with the affairs of this nation in the future.”” (NYT)
  • October 28, 1980: Second Presidential Debate Cleveland, Ohio, Moderated by Howard K. Smith, turning point of campaign with 100,000,000 viewers. No other Presidential debates in subsequent elections have changed the course of a campaign as in 1980. Topics include the Iranian hostage crisis, and nuclear arms treaties and proliferation. Carter attempts to portray Reagan as a “hawk” and too conservative, who voted against Medicare and Social Security benefits as governor.  Reagan’s demeanor is sunny, tolerant, calm, reasonable and responsible. Carter’s claim that he consults with his 12-year-old daughter Amy about nuclear weapons policy (post-debate analysis and late-night television jokes), “the control of nuclear arms.” Reagan’s masterful debate conclusion swayed independent and undecided voters “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Second Presidential debate, turned the campaign in Reagan’s favor .
  • November 4, 1980 Election Day; Republicans Ronald Reagan is elected President and George H. W. Bush is elected Vice President. Carter wins 49 electoral votes to Reagan’s 489.
  • December 15, 1980: Presidential Electors cast the electoral votes in their state capitals.
  • January 20, 1981: With the one-year anniversary of the hostage taking approaching on Election Day, Reagan’s comments were intended to cause public cynicism. The hostages are released within an hour of Reagan’s inauguration.
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