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Presidential Election of 1980 Facts and Outcome

The Presidential Election of 1980 was the 49th presidential election of the United States and would usher in a new era into American politics. 

Jimmy Carter was an unsuccessful president and very unpopular even within his own party. He was opposed in the primaries by Ted Kennedy, the younger brother of the late John F. Kennedy. He managed to secure the nomination, but the Democratic party was divided. They were limping into the election.

The Republican party had rallied from the corruption left behind by President Richard Nixon during the elections of 1972 and 1976 and nominated the popular governor from California, Ronald Reagan. 

The candidates and their running mates were as follows:

  • Republicans: Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush
  • Democrats: Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale


Republicans: Ronald Reagan campaigned for increased defense spending, implementation of supply-side economic policies, and a balanced budget. His campaign was aided by Democratic dissatisfaction with Carter, the Iran hostage crisis, and a worsening economy at home marked by high unemployment and inflation.

Democrats: Jimmy Carter tried to paint Reagan as a right-wing extremist that would cut Medicare and Social Security. However, he was a lame-duck president as many within the Democratic party did not support him. 


Ronald Reagan won in a landslide.

Jimmy Carter could not overcome incompetence and a general feeling that he was not up for the job. He carried the states of Georgia, West Virginia, Minnesota, and some others, but Ronald Reagan would take most states along with California, Texas, New York, and most of the south. 

The inflation also hurt Carter as he did not seem to have any answers while Ronald Reagan had a plan. 

Ronald Reagan also championed women’s rights and promised to appoint a female Supreme Court judge if elected. Feminists had become frustrated with Jimmy Carter and deserted him during the election.

Reagan also possessed a likability that Carter did not. He was an excellent orator and able to connect with many Americans.

The Presidential Election of 1980 would be the largest victory in United States Presidential history by a candidate that was not an incumbent. 

Despite Jimmy Carter’s incompetence as the Executive Officer in America he would go on to leave a lasting legacy for his Humanitarian efforts.

Presidential Election of 1980 Electoral Map

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