Presidency of Jimmy Carter - 1980 Presidential Election

1980 Presidential Election

Carter lost the presidency to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election. The popular vote went 50.7 percent, or 43.9 million popular votes, for Reagan and 41 percent, or 35.5 million, for Carter. Independent candidate John B. Anderson won 6.6 percent, or 5.7 million votes. However, because Carter's support was not concentrated in any geographic region, Reagan won a landslide 91 percent of the electoral vote, leaving Carter with only six states and the District of Columbia. Reagan carried a total of 489 electoral votes compared to Carter's 49.

Carter's defeat marked the first time an elected president failed to secure a second term in a general election since Herbert Hoover in 1932. Furthermore, he was the first incumbent Democratic president to seek, but fail to achieve in a general election, re-election since Andrew Johnson (Grover Cleveland served two non-consecutive terms while Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson served one full term in addition to taking over after the deaths of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy respectively, and Truman did not seek re-election, although Johnson briefly was a candidate until the poor results of the 1968 New Hampshire primary persuaded him to withdraw).

While Carter kept his promise (all 52 hostages returned home alive), he failed to secure the release of the hostages prior to the election. While Carter ultimately won their release, Iran did not release the hostages until minutes after Reagan took office. In recognition of the fact that Carter was responsible for bringing the hostages home, Reagan asked him to go to West Germany to greet them upon their release.

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