Talk:Democratic Party presidential primaries, 1980

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Our Campaigns Primary History Info[edit]

I think we should try to incorporate this in some capacity, given it would greatly expand the article, while not diverging from its purpose. However, I am not sure how best to proceed. --Ariostos (talk) 04:23, 2 February 2013 (UTC)

The Primaries[edit]

The Democratic primaries of 1980 were waged between President Jimmy Carter and two leading Democratic challengers, U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Governor Jerry Brown of California. Carter's attempt to provide a moderate government during the economic upheaval undermined his support among the more liberal Democrats in Congress, who in many cases supported Kennedy. While Kennedy initially enjoyed a substantial lead in the polls, Carter's response to the Iranian hostage crisis beginning in December provided an immediate boost to his popularity. By the time the primaries and caucuses began, Carter had regained his lead among most Democrats. Carter won more delegates in the primaries and caucuses, but several of his delegates switched their allegiance to Kennedy in the meantime. After the end of the primary season, Carter won renomination at the Democratic National Convention.

The Democratic Party in the Carter Administration[edit]

When Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as President, the hopes of the Democratic Party were high. The perceived weaknesses of the Nixon and Ford administration provided a unique opportunity for the Carter administration to make its mark. As the year progressed, Carter worked with Congress to establish cabinet-level departments of Energy and Education. Vietnam War draft dodgers were pardoned, a treaty was passed to hand the Panama Canal to Panama, and human rights was introduced as a central element of the nation's foreign policy.

However, with continuing high unemployment, inflation, and interest rates, the public punished the Democrats by handing seven seats in the U.S. House to the Republicans in special elections of 1977 and early 1978. President Carter spent much of 1978 working on the highly acclaimed Camp David Peace Accords, which represented a major breakthrough in Middle East policy, but at the time the agreement was not popular. The Republicans scored modest gains in the midterm elections, netting three seats in the Senate and eight in the House. Following the midterm election, Carter's team held a retreat at Camp David which resulted in the "malaise" speech the President delivered on August 15th; the President then re-organized his cabinet and appointed Paul Volcker to the Federal Reserve Board.

Challenges to Carter in the Presidential Primaries[edit]

Two main candidates chose to challenge President Carter for renomination. The more substantial challenge came from Sen. Edward Kennedy, who represented the party's traditional New Deal coalition. Citing Carter's unwillingness to step forward for additional legislation to address the continuing economic crisis, particularly with the return of gas shortages, Senator Kennedy immediately became the front-runner. At the time of Carter's malaise speech, Kennedy had a 53-21% lead in the Gallup poll. California Governor Jerry Brown entered the race, hoping to strengthen environmental regulation and increasing space travel. Unlike in 1976, Brown's campaign failed to gain traction.

In the fall of 1979, CBS News had been producing a documentary on the life of Senator Kennedy. The film, narrated by Roger Mudd, was advertised as "a fair, unbiased examination of Kennedy, and not entirely favorable." Its original air date had to be changed when Kennedy indicated that he would announce for the presidency on that date. When the documentary, titled "Teddy," aired, Anthony Lewis wrote in the New York Times that during the interview portions, "Kennedy was stumbling, inarticulate, unconvincing"

Iowa, Maine, and New Hampshire[edit]

The single event that changed the dynamics of the primary campaign was the Iran hostage situation. On November 4th, a group of Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Iran and took 52 diplomats hostage. Carter froze the assets of the Iranian government in the USA (amounting to $8 billion) and ceased the importation of petroleum products from the nation. By the end of 1979, the Gallup Poll showed that Carter had entered into a 51-37% lead nationally over Kennedy. The first (and only) debate of the season was held on January 12th, with Kennedy and Brown debating with Mondale, who was a stand-in for the President.

The first political test came in Iowa, where the caucuses were held on January 21st. The state was snow-covered in the days before the caucus, as candidates criss-crossed the state. Kennedy spent $480,000 there, compared to $400,000 for the President. On caucus day, Democratic turnout nearly tripled from 1976. When the results were tabulated, President Carter won a surprisingly wide 59-31% victory over Senator Kennedy.

Carter's campaign moved into action to try to embarrass the Senator in New England. The second contest was the Maine caucus on February 10th; Carter won a 46-40% victory with turnout five times greater than in 1976. In New Hampshire, Carter reversed a 53-18 deficit in the polls, taking a 35-31% lead in a January 23rd poll. Kennedy increased his efforts when a Boston Globe poll showed Carter with a 55-30% lead just days before the primary. His focus on the economy was credited with helping him narrow Carter's lead, resulting in a Carter victory of just 49-38%. Carter's campaign pointed out that just a few weeks earlier, Sen. Kennedy was expected to sail through with an easy win in New Hampshire.

The following week, two additional New England states voted. Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts gave him a 65-29% victory. In the "beauty pageant" in Vermont, Carter won by a 73-26% margin.

Super Tuesday and Illinois[edit]

Super Tuesday was primarily a Southern event in 1980. Primaries were held in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, while caucuses were held in Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Washington. Kennedy concentrated his efforts on the caucuses and in Florida, where he appealed to the Jewish and black populations. He entered Super Tuesday with a 115-87 lead in delegates over the President, but on that day the President assumed the lead and built on it consistently throughout the primary season. Carter won the primaries 70-19%, carrying all three states easily. The caucuses held a similar result; Carter won all but Alaska, where Kennedy placed second behind uncommitted.

One week after Super Tuesday, Illinois held its primary. Senator Kennedy had been initially buoyed by an endorsement from Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne, but his losses the earlier week and poorly received television commercials led to a 65-30% landslide for the President.

Early Spring Primaries[edit]

President Carter entered the primaries in New York and Connecticut on March 25th with 17 primary and caucus victories to just two for Senator Kennedy. His campaign spent $750,000 on advertising in the two states in an effort to snatch them from Kennedy, who had led in polls consistently but only had $250,000 for advertising. Just prior to the primary, with the Louis Harris poll showing Carter moving into the lead in both states, Democrats placed increasing pressure on Kennedy to drop out if he lost either.

In a stunning reversal, Kennedy won both New York and Connecticut. In New York, where the first presidential preference vote was held in the state's history, Kennedy won a smashing 59-41% victory. His margin in Connecticut was a narrower 47-42% margin, but the victory there was icing on the cake. Kennedy won 192 delegates in the two states to 146 for the President.

Sixteen states held primaries in the early spring of 1980. During this time, Sen. Kennedy tirelessly campaigned, but President Carter limited his campaign to one day in Ohio. During these primaries, Carter attempted a military effort to rescue the hostages in Iran, which was popular among the voters even if not successful. Beginning with his victory in Kansas, Carter was able to win 15 of the 16 primaries in this time frame. He won 56.6% of the 7.6 million votes cast, leaving Senator Kennedy with just 30% and wins in only Pennsylvania and DC.

During the spring primaries, Gov. Brown dropped out of the race. He had focused his efforts on Wisconsin but had only managed 12% of the vote in a three-way contest. It was the only primary state to give him over 10%, though he had won 14% in the Maine caucuses. Furthermore, the California legislature was in open rebellion against his administration. On April 2nd, he withdrew from the presidential contest after winning just a single delegate nationwide.

California and the Primaries of June 3rd[edit]

Carter's string of victories in the early spring primaries gave him a substantial lead. Just before the last primary day, the New York Times estimated that Carter had 1,643 of the needed 1,666 delegates to carry the nomination, compared to 866 for Kennedy. The last day was supposed to put Carter well over the top. Kennedy continued his aggressive campaign, criticizing the President for not debating and for his handling of the hostage crisis and the economy.

Eight states held Democratic presidential primaries on June 3rd. Altogether, 5.8 million ballots were cast, or 31% of the nationwide total for 1980. In a dramatic change, Sen. Kennedy placed first with a 45-42% win over Carter and an unusually high 10% for unpledged delegates. Kennedy won the key states of California and New Jersey as well as New Mexico, Rhode Island, and South Dakota. Carter's only major win was Ohio, though he also won Montana and West Virginia. Kennedy won 372 delegates to 321 for Carter. More troubling than Carter's limping across the 50% delegate threshold was a poll that showed that only 21% of Democratic primary voters approved of Carter's handling of the economy and that 20% would be willing to vote for either Anderson or Reagan in the general election - an ominous sign of his weakness.

President Carter and Senator Kennedy held a 45-minute discussion in the Oval Office on June 5th. Kennedy emerged from the meeting and announced that he was still an active candidate. He said that President Carter's refusal to debate "the important issues" of the day showed his lack of concern for the American people.

The result of the Democratic primaries and caucuses was that President Carter won 1,964 delegates to 1,239 for Kennedy and 128 uncommitted, according to the New York Times estimates on June 5th.[edit] is not a WP:Reliable source. It is a collaborative website built by an "internet community." (US President - D Primaries) is a webpage written by "Thomas Walker", last modified by "Chronicler", does not cite a source, and is not a WP:Reliable source. (IA US President - D Caucuses) is a webpage written by "RParker", last modified by "TX DEM", does not cite a source, and is not a WP:Reliable source.
Apatens (talk) 04:22, 4 February 2013 (UTC)