1980

Theo Lippman Jr.

October 29, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election.

In the 49th in 1980, President Jimmy Carter was routed. Ronald Reagan, the former governor of California, often derided for having been a movie actor, won in a landslide. Carter was the first incumbent to suffer such a fate since 1932 and the first Democratic incumbent ousted since 1888.

Two issues dominated. One was that 53 Americans were being held as hostages in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran. They were seized a year before the election when Carter allowed the Shah of Iran to come to the U.S. for medical treatments. The Iranians wanted him back. Carter made this an issue by making freeing the hostages his first priority. But negotiations and a military rescue failed.

The other issue was inflation. Just before election day, the consumer price index was rising at an annual rate of 12.7 percent. (It had been even worse earlier in the year.) Interest rates on some loans were above 20 percent.

Reagan got 51 percent of the popular vote to Carter's 41 and carried 44 states to Carter's 6. An independent candidate, John Anderson, got 6.6 percent of the popular vote but no states.

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