Republican Party presidential primaries, 1980

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Republican Party Presidential Primaries, 1980
United States
1976 ←
January 21 to June 3, 1980 → 1984

  Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981.jpg George H. W. Bush, President of the United States, official portrait.jpg John Bayard Anderson.jpg
Nominee Ronald Reagan George H. W. Bush John B. Anderson
Party Republican Republican Republican
Home state California Texas Illinois
States carried 44 6
(D.C., PR)
0
Popular vote 7,709,793 3,070,033 1,572,174
Percentage 59.79% 23.81% 12.19%

Republican presidential primary results, 1980.svg

Shading indicates level of support; darker colors signify a win by 60% or more, lighter colors show a plurality or bare majority.

Republican presidential candidate before election

Gerald Ford

Republican presidential candidate-elect

Ronald Reagan

The 1980 Republican presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Republican Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 1980 U.S. presidential election. Former California Governor Ronald Reagan was selected as the nominee through a series of primary elections and caucuses culminating in the Republican National Convention held from July 14 to July 17, 1980, in Detroit, Michigan.

Primary race[edit]

As the 1980 presidential election approached, incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter appeared vulnerable. High gas prices, economic stagflation, a renewed Cold War with the Soviet Union following the invasion of Afghanistan, and the Iran hostage crisis that developed when Iranian students seized the American embassy in Tehran all contributed to a general dissatisfaction with Carter's presidency. Likewise, the president faced stiff primary challenges of his own from Senator Ted Kennedy and California Governor Jerry Brown. A large field of Republican challengers soon emerged. Former Governor Ronald Reagan was the early odds-on favorite to win his party's nomination for president after nearly beating incumbent President Gerald Ford just four years earlier. He was so far ahead in the polls that campaign director John Sears decided on an "above the fray" strategy. He did not attend many of the multicandidate forums and straw polls in the summer and fall of 1979.

George H. W. Bush, the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and chairman of the Republican National Committee, taking a page from the George McGovern/Jimmy Carter playbook, did go to all the so-called "cattle calls", and began to come in first at a number of these events. Along with the top two, a number of other Republican politicians entered the race.

In January 1980, the Iowa Republicans decided to have a straw poll as a part of their caucuses for that year. Bush defeated Reagan by a small margin. Bush declared he had "the Big Mo", and with Reagan boycotting the Puerto Rico primary in deference to New Hampshire, Bush won the territory easily, giving him an early lead going into New Hampshire.

The Nashua debate between Ronald Reagan (left) and George H. W. Bush (right)

With the other candidates in single digits, the Nashua Telegraph offered to host a debate between Reagan and Bush. Worried that a newspaper-sponsored debate might violate electoral regulations, Reagan subsequently arranged to fund the event with his own campaign money, inviting the other candidates to participate at short notice. The Bush camp did not learn of Reagan's decision to include the other candidates until the debate was due to commence. Bush refused to participate, which led to an impasse on the stage. As Reagan attempted to explain his decision, the editor of the Nashua Telegraph ordered the sound man to mute Reagan's microphone. A visibly angry Reagan responded, "I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Green!" [sic] (referring to the editor Jon Breen).[1][2][3] Eventually the other candidates agreed to leave, and the debate proceeded between Reagan and Bush. Reagan's quote was often repeated as "I paid for this microphone!" and dominated news coverage of the event; Reagan sailed to an easy win in New Hampshire.[4]

Ronald Reagan delivering his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Detroit, Michigan, on July 17, 1980.

Heading into the South Carolina primary, political operative Lee Atwater worked to engineer a victory for Reagan. "Lee Atwater figured that Connally was their biggest threat here in South Carolina. So Lee leaked a story to me that John Connally was trying to buy the black vote. Well, that story got out, thanks to me, and it probably killed Connally. He spent $10 million for one delegate. Lee saved Ronald Reagan's candidacy", said Lee Bandy, a writer for the South Carolina newspaper The State.[5]

Reagan swept the South, and although he lost five more primaries to Bush—including the Massachusetts primary in which he came in third place behind John B. Anderson—the former governor had a lock on the nomination very early in the season. Reagan said he would always be grateful to the people of Iowa for giving him "the kick in the pants" he needed.

Reagan was an adherent to a policy known as supply-side economics, which argues that economic growth can be most effectively created using incentives for people to produce (supply) goods and services, such as adjusting income tax and capital gains tax rates. Accordingly, Reagan promised an economic revival that would benefit all sectors of the population. He said that cutting tax rates would actually increase tax revenues because the lower rates would cause people to work harder as they would be able to keep more of their money. Reagan also called for a drastic cut in "big government" and pledged to deliver a balanced budget for the first time since 1969. In the primaries Bush memorably called Reagan's economic policy "voodoo economics" because it promised to lower taxes and increase revenues at the same time.

Candidates[edit]

Nominee[edit]

Withdrew during primaries[edit]

Withdrew before primaries[edit]

Declined to run[edit]

The following potential candidates declined to run for the Republican nomination in 1980.[6][7]

Results[edit]

Statewide[edit]

Date Jurisdiction Ronald Reagan George H. W. Bush John B. Anderson Howard Baker John Connally Phil Crane Bob Dole
January 21 Iowa 30% 32% 4% 15% 9% 7% 1%
February 17 Puerto Rico 0% 60% 0% 37% 1% 0% 0%
February 26 New Hampshire 50% 23% 10% 13% 2% 2% 0%
March 4 Massachusetts 29% 31% 31% 5% 1% 1% 0%
March 4 Vermont 30% 22% 29% 12% 1% 2% 0%
March 8 South Carolina 55% 15% 0% 1% 30% 0% 0%
March 11 Alabama 70% 26% 0% 1% 1% 2% 0%
March 11 Florida 56% 30% 9% 1% 1% 2% 0%
March 11 Georgia 73% 13% 8% 1% 1% 3% 0%
March 18 Illinois 49% 11% 36% 1% 0% 2% 0%
March 25 Connecticut 34% 39% 22% 1% 0% 1% 0%
April 1 Kansas 63% 13% 18% 1% 1% 0% 0%
April 1 Wisconsin 40% 30% 27% 0% 0% 0% 0%
April 5 Louisiana 74% 19% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
April 22 Pennsylvania 43% 50% 2% 3% 1% 0% 0%
May 3 Texas 53% 46% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
May 6 Washington, D.C. 0% 66% 27% 0% 0% 4% 0%
May 6 Indiana 74% 16% 10% 0% 0% 0% 0%
May 6 North Carolina 68% 22% 5% 2% 0% 1% 0%
May 6 Tennessee 74% 18% 4% 0% 0% 1% 0%
May 13 Maryland 48% 41% 10% 0% 0% 1% 0%
May 13 Nebraska 76% 15% 6% 0% 0% 1% 1%
May 20 Michigan 32% 57% 8% 0% 0% 1% 1%
May 20 Oregon 54% 35% 10% 0% 0% 1% 0%
May 27 Idaho 83% 4% 10% 0% 0% 1% 0%
May 27 Kentucky 82% 7% 5% 0% 0% 0% 0%
May 27 Nevada 83% 4% 10% 0% 0% 1% 0%
June 3 California 80% 5% 14% 0% 0% 1% 0%
June 3 Mississippi 89% 8% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
June 3 Montana 87% 10% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
June 3 New Jersey 81% 17% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
June 3 New Mexico 64% 10% 12% 0% 0% 7% 0%
June 3 Ohio 81% 19% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
June 3 Rhode Island 72% 19% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
June 3 South Dakota 88% 4% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%
June 3 West Virginia 84% 14% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0%

Nationwide[edit]

Primaries, total popular vote:[8]

The Republican National Convention was held in Detroit, Michigan, from July 14 to July 17, 1980.

Presidential tally:[9]

Vice President[edit]

Reagan initially negotiated with Gerald Ford to be his running mate; when the complex plan fell through (Ford reportedly insisted Henry Kissinger and Alan Greenspan be offered cabinet positions), Reagan chose Bush as the Republican vice presidential candidate. Other candidates mentioned included,

Vice Presidential tally:[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Reagan's Nashua Moment"
  2. ^ "Nation: We Were Sandbagged". Time. 10 March 1980. 
  3. ^ "Molloy Sound and Video Contractors: Articles (1/1/11)". Molloysoundandvideo.com. 2000-02-10. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  4. ^ Dunham, Richard (20 October 2009). "New book tells inside story of pivotal Bush-Reagan debate in Nashua". The Houston Chronicle. 
  5. ^ Forbes, Stefan (2008). "Transcript – Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story". PBS Frontline. 
  6. ^ Sidey, Hugh (29 May 1978). "The Presidency: Roses with a Touch of Ragweed". Time. 
  7. ^ "Republicans: There's Life in the Old Party Yet". time. 15 November 1976. 
  8. ^ "US President - R Primaries Race - Feb 17, 1980". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2012-02-03. 
  9. ^ "US President - R Convention Race - Jul 14, 1980". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  10. ^ "US Vice President - R Convention Race - Jul 14, 1980". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 

Further reading[edit]