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1984 United States presidential election

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1984 United States presidential election

← 1980 November 6, 1984 1988 →

538 members of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
Opinion polls
Turnout55.2%[1] Increase 1.0 pp
Nominee Ronald Reagan Walter Mondale
Party Republican Democratic
Home state California Minnesota
Running mate George H. W. Bush Geraldine Ferraro
Electoral vote 525 13
States carried 49 1 + DC
Popular vote 54,455,472 37,577,352
Percentage 58.8% 40.6%

1984 United States presidential election in California1984 United States presidential election in Oregon1984 United States presidential election in Washington (state)1984 United States presidential election in Idaho1984 United States presidential election in Nevada1984 United States presidential election in Utah1984 United States presidential election in Arizona1984 United States presidential election in Montana1984 United States presidential election in Wyoming1984 United States presidential election in Colorado1984 United States presidential election in New Mexico1984 United States presidential election in North Dakota1984 United States presidential election in South Dakota1984 United States presidential election in Nebraska1984 United States presidential election in Kansas1984 United States presidential election in Oklahoma1984 United States presidential election in Texas1984 United States presidential election in Minnesota1984 United States presidential election in Iowa1984 United States presidential election in Missouri1984 United States presidential election in Arkansas1984 United States presidential election in Louisiana1984 United States presidential election in Wisconsin1984 United States presidential election in Illinois1984 United States presidential election in Michigan1984 United States presidential election in Indiana1984 United States presidential election in Ohio1984 United States presidential election in Kentucky1984 United States presidential election in Tennessee1984 United States presidential election in Mississippi1984 United States presidential election in Alabama1984 United States presidential election in Georgia1984 United States presidential election in Florida1984 United States presidential election in South Carolina1984 United States presidential election in North Carolina1984 United States presidential election in Virginia1984 United States presidential election in West Virginia1984 United States presidential election in the District of Columbia1984 United States presidential election in Maryland1984 United States presidential election in Delaware1984 United States presidential election in Pennsylvania1984 United States presidential election in New Jersey1984 United States presidential election in New York1984 United States presidential election in Connecticut1984 United States presidential election in Rhode Island1984 United States presidential election in Vermont1984 United States presidential election in New Hampshire1984 United States presidential election in Maine1984 United States presidential election in Massachusetts1984 United States presidential election in Hawaii1984 United States presidential election in Alaska1984 United States presidential election in the District of Columbia1984 United States presidential election in Maryland1984 United States presidential election in Delaware1984 United States presidential election in New Jersey1984 United States presidential election in Connecticut1984 United States presidential election in Rhode Island1984 United States presidential election in Massachusetts1984 United States presidential election in Vermont1984 United States presidential election in New Hampshire
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Reagan/Bush and blue denotes those won by Mondale/Ferraro. Numbers indicate electoral votes cast by each state and the District of Columbia.

President before election

Ronald Reagan

Elected President

Ronald Reagan

The 1984 United States presidential election was the 50th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 6, 1984. Incumbent Republican President Ronald Reagan and his running mate, incumbent Vice President George H. W. Bush, were re-elected to a second term in a landslide. They defeated the Democratic ticket of former Vice President Walter Mondale and Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro.

Reagan and Bush faced only token opposition in their bid for re-nomination. Mondale faced a competitive field in his bid, defeating Colorado Senator Gary Hart, activist Jesse Jackson, and several other candidates in the 1984 Democratic primaries. He eventually chose New York Representative Geraldine Ferraro as his running mate, the first woman to be on a major party's presidential ticket.

Reagan touted a strong economic recovery from the 1970s stagflation and the 1981–1982 recession, and the widespread perception that his presidency had overseen a revival of national confidence and prestige.[2] At 73, Reagan was the oldest person to be nominated by a major party for president, a record that stood until 2020. The Reagan campaign produced effective television advertising and deftly neutralized concerns regarding Reagan's age. Mondale criticized Reagan's supply-side economic policies and budget deficits. He also called for a nuclear freeze and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Reagan won re-election in a landslide victory, carrying 525 electoral votes, 49 states, and 58.8% of the popular vote. Mondale won 13 electoral votes, 10 from his home state of Minnesota which he won by a narrow margin of 0.18% and 3 from the District of Columbia, which has always voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate.[3] This was the second-largest share of the electoral college since 1820 (and the largest for a Republican), and the most raw electoral votes received by a candidate. This is the last time any candidate won the popular vote by double digits.[4]

Since Mondale's death in April 2021, this is the latest election where all of the major party nominees for president or vice president are deceased.

As of 2020, this marked the last time the Republican nominee carried the states of Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Washington. Meanwhile, West Virginia would not vote Republican again until 2000, Iowa would not vote Republican again until 2004, and Wisconsin has only voted Republican once since, in 2016. As of 2020, this is the only time an incumbent president defeated a former vice president and it is also the only time a major party presidential candidate defeated both the incumbent president and the latter's former vice president in consecutive presidential elections. As of 2024, this is the most recent election in which the Republican nominee won the popular vote for the second time in succession.



Ronald Reagan entered the presidency with an unemployment rate of 7.3% and it peaked at 10.6% in December 1982. The United States had a negative gross domestic product growth in 1982.[5]

The Republicans performed poorly in the 1982 elections. Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter lost an average of 12 seats in the United States House of Representatives in their first midterm. The Republicans lost 26 seats in the U.S. House elections. The Republicans lost seven governorships as well.[6]

Reagan's approval rating fell to 35% by January 1983. Polling showed him losing to Democratic candidates, including Walter Mondale and John Glenn.[6] However, unemployment fell to 7.7% by March 1984,[5] and Reagan's approval rating was at 54% in January 1984. His approval rating was aided by the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings and the invasion of Grenada.[7] Polling by CBS News and The New York Times in January 1984 showed him leading Mondale by 16%.[8]



Republican Party candidates

Republican Party (United States)
Republican Party (United States)
1984 Republican Party ticket
Ronald Reagan George H. W. Bush
for President for Vice President
President of the United States
Vice President of the United States
Candidates in this section are sorted by date of withdrawal from the nomination race
Harold Stassen Ben Fernandez
Governor of Minnesota
U.S. Special Envoy to Paraguay
Campaign Campaign
LN: August 23, 1984
12,749 votes
LN: August 23, 1984
202 votes


President Reagan and Vice President Bush at the 1984 Republican National Convention in Dallas

Reagan-Bush '84, under the leadership of Ed Rollins, was organized on October 17, 1983.[9] Reagan delayed his campaign announcement as not running would make him a lame duck while running would make everything he did be viewed as part of his campaign.[10] He announced that he would seek reelection on January 29, 1984.[11]

Reagan was the first incumbent president since Richard Nixon in 1972 to face no significant opposition for renomination.[12] The popular vote from the Republican primaries was as follows:[13]

  • Ronald Reagan (inc.): 6,484,987 (98.6%)
  • Unpledged delegates: 41,411 (0.6%)
  • Others: 21,643 (0.3%)
  • "Ronald Reagan No":[a] 14,047 (0.2%)
  • Harold E. Stassen: 12,749 (0.2%)
  • David Kelly: 360
  • Gary Arnold: 252
  • Benjamin Fernandez: 202



Reagan was renominated by a vote of 2,233 delegates (two delegates abstained). For the only time in American history, the vice presidential roll call was taken concurrently with the presidential roll call. Vice President George H. W. Bush was overwhelmingly renominated. This was the last time in the 20th century that the vice-presidential candidate of either major party was nominated by roll call vote.

Presidential ballot Vice presidential ballot
Ronald Reagan 2,233 George H. W. Bush 2,231
Abstaining 2 Abstaining 2
Jack Kemp 1
Jeane Kirkpatrick 1

Democratic Party candidates

Mondale campaigning in Pennsylvania
Democratic Party (United States)
Democratic Party (United States)
1984 Democratic Party ticket
Walter Mondale Geraldine Ferraro
for President for Vice President
Vice President of the United States
U.S. Representative
from New York


Mondale celebrates his victory in the Iowa caucus.

Only three Democratic candidates won any state primaries: Mondale, Hart, and Jackson. Initially, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, after a failed bid to win the 1980 Democratic nomination for president, was considered the de facto front-runner of the 1984 primary. However, Kennedy announced in December 1982 that he did not intend to run.[16][17] Former Vice President Mondale was then viewed as the favorite to win the Democratic nomination. Mondale had the largest number of party leaders supporting him, and he had raised more money than any other candidate. However, both Jackson and Hart emerged as surprising, and troublesome, opponents.

South Carolina Senator Ernest Hollings's wit and experience, as well as his call for a budget freeze, won him some positive attention, but his relatively conservative record alienated liberal Democrats, and he was never really noticed in a field dominated by Mondale, John Glenn, and Gary Hart. Hollings dropped out two days after losing badly in New Hampshire and endorsed Hart a week later. His disdain for his competitors was at times showcased in his comments. He notably referred to Mondale as a "lapdog", and to former astronaut Glenn as "Sky King" who was "confused in his capsule."[18]

California Senator Alan Cranston hoped to galvanize supporters of the nuclear freeze movement that had called on the United States to halt the deployment of existing nuclear weapons and the development of new ones. Glenn and Askew hoped to capture the support of moderate and conservative Democrats. None of them possessed the fundraising ability of Mondale nor the grassroots support of Hart and Jackson, and none won any contests.

Jackson was the second African-American (after Shirley Chisholm) to mount a nationwide campaign for the presidency, and he was the first African-American candidate to be a serious contender. He got 3.5 million votes during the primaries, third behind Hart and Mondale. He won the primaries in Virginia, South Carolina, and Louisiana, and split Mississippi, where there were two separate contests for Democratic delegates. Through the primaries, Jackson helped confirm the black electorate's importance to the Democratic Party in the South at the time. During the campaign, however, Jackson made an off-the-cuff reference to Jews as "Hymies" and New York City as "Hymietown", for which he later apologized. Nonetheless, the remark was widely publicized, and derailed his campaign for the nomination.[19] Jackson ended up winning 21% of the national primary vote but received only 8% of the delegates to the national convention, and he initially charged that his campaign was hurt by the same party rules that allowed Mondale to win. He also poured scorn on Mondale, saying that Hubert Humphrey was the "last significant politician out of the St. Paul-Minneapolis" area.[20]

Hart, from Colorado, was a more serious threat to Mondale, and after winning several early primaries it looked as if he might take the nomination away from Mondale. Hart finished a surprising second in the Iowa caucuses, with 16.5% of the vote. This established him as the main rival to Mondale, effectively eliminating John Glenn, Ernest Hollings and Alan Cranston as alternatives.[21] Hart criticized Mondale as an "old-fashioned" Great Society Democrat who symbolized "failed policies" of the past. Hart positioned himself (just as Bill Clinton would eight years later) as a younger, fresher, and more moderate Democrat who could appeal to younger voters. He emerged as a formidable candidate, winning the key New Hampshire, Ohio, and California primaries as well as several others, especially in the West. However, Hart could not overcome Mondale's financial and organizational advantages, especially among labor union leaders in the Midwest and industrial Northeast.

Hart was also badly hurt in a televised debate with Mondale during the primaries, when the former vice president used a popular television commercial slogan to ridicule Hart's vague "New Ideas" platform. Turning to Hart on camera, Mondale told Hart that whenever he heard Hart talk about his "New Ideas", he was reminded of the Wendy's fast-food slogan "Where's the beef?" The remark drew loud laughter and applause from the viewing audience and caught Hart off-guard. Hart never fully recovered from Mondale's charge that his "New Ideas" were shallow and lacking in specifics.

Mondale celebrates several victories in March 13 primaries with Jimmy Carter (under whom Mondale had previously served as vice president) at his campaign headquarters.

At a roundtable debate between the three remaining Democratic candidates moderated by Phil Donahue, Mondale and Hart got into such a heated argument over the issue of U.S. policy in Central America that Jackson had to tap his water glass on the table to help get them to stop.

Mondale gradually pulled away from Hart in the delegate count, but, as Time reported in late May, "Mondale ... has a wide lead in total delegates (1,564 to 941) ... because of his victories in the big industrial states, his support from the Democratic Establishment and the arcane provisions of delegate-selection rules that his vanguard helped draft two years ago."[22] After the final primary in California, on June 5, which Hart won, Mondale was about 40 delegates short of the total he needed for the nomination.[23] However, at the Democratic National Convention in San Francisco on July 16, Mondale received the overwhelming support of the unelected superdelegates from the party establishment to win the nomination.

Mondale's nomination marked the second time since the nomination of former governor of Georgia Jimmy Carter in 1976 and the fourth time since the nomination of former Representative John W. Davis in 1924 that the Democratic Party nominated a private citizen for president (not serving in an official government role at the time of the nomination and election). Mondale was the last private citizen to be nominated for president by the Democratic Party until former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016. He was also the last former vice president to be nominated for president until Joe Biden in 2020.

This race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination was the closest in two generations, and, as of 2020, it was the last occasion that a major party's race for the presidential nomination went all the way to its convention.



Note: These are only those endorsements which occurred during or before the primary race.

List of Walter Mondale endorsements

Mondale had received endorsements from:

United States House of Representatives
Governors and State Constitutional officers
Former officeholders
Former diplomats, board members and other officials
Organizations and unions
Current and former state and local officials and party officeholders
  • Mayor and 1982 Democratic Gubernatorial nominee Tom Bradley of Los Angeles[35]
  • Former Alderman, President of the City Council, 1983 mayoral candidate, and Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Edward Vrdolyak of Chicago[36]
List of Gary Hart endorsements

Hart had received endorsements from:

United States House of Representatives
Celebrities, political activists, and political commentators
List of Jesse Jackson endorsements

Jackson had received endorsements from:

United States House of Representatives
Former officeholders
Current and former state and local officials and party officeholders
  • State Representative Tyrone Brookes[47]
Washington, D.C.
Organizations and unions
Celebrities, political activists, and political commentators
List of Ernest F. Hollings endorsements

Hollings had received endorsements from:

United States Senate
State Constitutional officers
List of John Glenn endorsements

Glenn had received endorsements from:

United States Senate
United States House of Representatives
Governors and State Constitutional officers
Current and former state and local officials and party officeholders
  • State Representative Larry Walker[30]
List of Alan Cranston endorsements

Cranston had received endorsements from:

United States House of Representatives
List of Reubin Askew endorsements

Askew had received endorsements from:

United States Senate
United States House of Representatives
Governors and State Constitutional officers
Current and former state and local officials and party officeholders



This was the convention's nomination tally:

Presidential ballot Vice presidential ballot
Walter F. Mondale 2,191 Geraldine A. Ferraro 3,920
Gary W. Hart 1,200.5 Shirley Chisholm 3
Jesse L. Jackson 465.5
Thomas F. Eagleton 18
George S. McGovern 4
John H. Glenn 2
Joe Biden 1
Lane Kirkland 1

When he made his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention, Mondale said: "Let's tell the truth. Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did."[64] Although Mondale intended to expose Reagan as hypocritical and position himself as the honest candidate, the choice of raising taxes as a discussion point likely damaged his electoral chances.

Vice presidential nominee

Ferraro with Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn and Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis at a campaign stop in Boston

Mondale wanted to establish a highly visible precedent with his vice presidential candidate. Mondale chose U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro from New York as his running mate, making her the first woman and the first Catholic nominated for that position by a major party. Another reason for the nominee to "go for broke" instead of balancing the ticket was Reagan's lead in the polls. Mondale hoped to appeal to women, and by 1980, they were the majority of voters. In a "much criticized parade of possible Veep candidates" to his home in Minnesota, Mondale considered San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein and Kentucky Governor Martha Layne Collins, also female; Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African American; and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, a Hispanic, as other finalists for the nomination. In addition to her sex, Mondale chose Ferraro because he hoped she would attract ethnic voters with her personal background.[20][65] Unsuccessful nomination candidate Jesse Jackson derided Mondale's vice-presidential screening process as a "P.R. parade of personalities", but praised Mondale for his choice, having himself pledged to name a woman to the ticket in the event he was nominated.

Mondale had wanted to choose New York Governor Mario Cuomo as his running mate, but Cuomo declined and recommended Ferraro,[66] his protégée.[67] Mondale might have named Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis as his running mate had he wanted to make a "safe" choice",[65] while others preferred Senator Lloyd Bentsen because he would appeal to more conservative Southern voters. Nomination rival Gary Hart stated before Ferraro's selection that he would accept an invitation to run with Mondale;[65] Hart's supporters claimed he would do better than Mondale against President Reagan, an argument undercut by a June 1984 Gallup poll that showed both men nine points behind the president.

Other parties


National Unity Party nomination

Former U.S. representative John B. Anderson declined to run on April 26, 1984, and endorsed Mondale on August 27.

The National Unity Party was an outgrowth of John Anderson's presidential campaign from the 1980 presidential election. Anderson hoped that the party would be able to challenge the "two old parties", which he viewed as being tied to various special interest groups and incapable of responsible fiscal reform. The intention was to organize the new party in California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, the New England states, and others where his previous candidacy had proven to have experienced the most success. The party was also eligible for $5.8 million in Federal election funds, but its qualification depended on it being on the ballot in at least ten states; however, it remained unclear if National Unity could actually obtain the funds, or if it needed to be Anderson himself.[68][69][70][71][72][73][74]

Anderson initially was against running, hoping that another notable politico would take the party into the 1984 election, and feared that his own candidacy might result in the party being labeled a "personality cult". However, no candidate came forward resulting in Anderson becoming the nominee in waiting. While Anderson had found equal support from the Republicans and Democrats in the 1980 election, the grand majority of the former had since switched back, resulting in the new party being supported principally by those who normally would vote Democratic, which it was feared might make him a spoiler candidate. In light of this, in addition to difficulties in getting on the ballot in his targeted states (Utah and Kentucky were the only two, neither among those he intended to prominently campaign in), Anderson ultimately declined to run.

Anderson announced that he would not run on April 26, 1984.[75] He later endorsed Mondale and a survey of National Unity members showed that they supported his action.[76] Anderson had hoped that the party would continue to grow and field candidates in 1986,[77] and later a presidential candidate in 1988.[75]

Libertarian Party nomination


Burns was the initial frontrunner for the nomination, but withdrew, citing concerns that the party would not be able to properly finance a campaign. The remaining candidates were Bergland; Ravenal, who had worked in the Department of Defense under Robert McNamara and Clark Clifford; and Ruwart. Bergland narrowly won the presidential nomination over Ravenal. His running mate was James A. Lewis. The ticket appeared on 39 state ballots.

Citizens Party nomination


Sonia Johnson ran in the 1984 presidential election, as the presidential candidate of the Citizens Party, Pennsylvania's Consumer Party and California's Peace and Freedom Party. Johnson received 72,161 votes (0.1%) finishing fifth. Her running mate for the Citizens Party was Richard Walton and for the Peace and Freedom Party Emma Wong Mar. One of her campaign managers, Mark Dunlea, later wrote a novel about a first female president, Madame President.

Communist Party nomination


The Communist Party USA ran Gus Hall for president and Angela Davis for vice president.

General election



Mondale and Ferraro campaigning in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Mondale unsuccessfully tried to replace Charles Manatt with Bert Lance as chair of the DNC. Mondale made Lance the chair of his presidential campaign. However, Lance had to be removed due to controversy over his tenure as director of the Office of Management and Budget.[79]

Reagan's lead in polling declined after the Republican convention due to its strong right-wing stances. Reagan was also criticized for a joke about bombing the Soviet Union. However, polls showed that voters believed Mondale was "too cautious and vague" and was trying to appeal to too many special interest groups.[80]

Roger Stone and other strategists working for Reagan viewed Ohio, where unemployment was 10%, as his most vulnerable state.[81]

Reagan made appeals to Evangelical voters during the campaign. He declared January 22, 1984, to be National Sanctity of Human Life Day. The American Coalition for Traditional Values (ACTV), under the leadership of Tim LaHaye, was tasked with maintaining Evangelical support. The ACTV planned on registering 2.5 million voters. Laxalt sent a letter to 45,000 ministers in sixteen states, under the title of the Christian Voter Program, asking for them to support Reagan's campaign and register voters.[82]

Mondale ran a liberal campaign, supporting a nuclear freeze and the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). He spoke against what he considered to be unfairness in Reagan's economic policies and the need to reduce federal budget deficits.

While Ferraro's choice was popular among Democratic activists, polls immediately after the announcement showed that only 22% of women were pleased about her selection, versus 18% who agreed that it was a bad idea. 60% of all voters thought that pressure from women's groups had led to Mondale's decision, versus 22% who believed that he had chosen the best available candidate.[65] Some members of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church criticized the Catholic Ferraro for being pro-choice on abortion. Already fighting an uphill battle with voters, Ferraro also faced a slew of allegations, mid-campaign, directed toward her husband, John Zaccaro. These allegations included Zaccaro's possible past involvement in organized crime, pornography distribution, and campaign contribution violations. Ferraro responded to these allegations against her husband by releasing her family tax returns to the media on August 21, 1984. However, the damage to the campaign was already done.[83][84]

Reagan and Bush campaigning in Austin, Texas

At a campaign stop in Hammonton, New Jersey, Reagan said, "America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts. It rests in the message of hope in songs of a man so many young Americans admire, New Jersey's Bruce Springsteen." The Reagan campaign briefly used "Born in the U.S.A.", a song criticizing the treatment of Vietnam War veterans (which they mistakenly thought was devoid of anti-war content and a very jingoistic patriotic rock song), as a campaign song, without permission, until Springsteen, a lifelong Democrat, insisted that they stop.[85] Two of the more memorable Reagan campaign ads were commonly known as "Morning in America" and, after the difficult first debate for the president, "Bear in the woods".[86]

Clip from the second debate in which Reagan responds to a question about his age

Reagan was the oldest president to have served to that time (at 73) and there were questions about his capacity to endure the grueling demands of the presidency, particularly after Reagan had a poor showing in the first 1984 United States presidential debates with Mondale on October 7. He referred to having started going to church "here in Washington", although the debate was in Louisville, Kentucky, referred to military uniforms as "wardrobe", and admitted to being "confused", among other mistakes.[87] In the next debate on October 21, however, in response to a question from journalist Henry Trewhitt[86] about his age, Reagan joked, "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." Mondale himself laughed at the joke,[88] and later admitted that Reagan had effectively neutralized the age issue:

If TV can tell the truth, as you say it can, you'll see that I was smiling. But I think if you come in close, you'll see some tears coming down because I knew he had gotten me there. That was really the end of my campaign that night, I think. [I told my wife] the campaign was over, and it was.[89]

Presidential debates


There were two presidential debates and one vice presidential debate during the 1984 general election.[90]

No. Date Host Location Panelists Moderator Participants Viewership
P1 Sunday, October 7, 1984 The Kentucky Center Louisville, Kentucky James Wieghart
Diane Sawyer
Fred Barnes
Barbara Walters President Ronald Reagan
Former Vice President Walter Mondale
VP Thursday, October 11, 1984 Philadelphia Civic Center Philadelphia John Bashek
Jack White
Robert Boyd
Sander Vanocur Vice President George H. W. Bush
Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro
P2 Sunday, October 21, 1984 Municipal Auditorium (Kansas City, Missouri) Kansas City, Missouri Georgie Anne Geyer
Marvin Kalb
Morton Kondracke
Edwin Newman President Ronald Reagan
Former Vice President Walter Mondale
67.3 [90]


Results of the 1984 presidential election by margin, congressional district, and county

This was the first time since 1960 that the voter turnout percentage rose.[91] Reagan was re-elected in the November 6 election in an electoral and popular vote landslide, winning 49 states by the time the ballots were finished counting on election night at 11:34 PM in Iowa. He won a record 525 electoral votes total (of 538 possible), and received 58.8% of the popular vote; despite Ferraro's selection, 55% of women who voted did so for Reagan,[83] and his 54 to 61% of the Catholic vote was the highest for a Republican candidate in history.[92] Mondale's 13 electoral college votes marked the lowest total of any major presidential candidate since Alf Landon's 1936 loss to Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the fewest of any Democrat since Stephen A. Douglas claimed 12 in the 1860 election, as well as the worst for a Democrat in a two-way race. However, Democrats Alton B. Parker, James M. Cox, John W. Davis, and George S. McGovern, did worse in the popular vote. This was the second-largest share of the electoral college since 1820, and the most raw electoral votes received by a candidate. This is the last time any candidate won the popular vote by double digits.[4]

The Republicans gained seats in the concurrent U.S. House of Representatives elections, but the Democrats maintained their control over the chamber. The Democrats gained two seats in the concurrent U.S. Senate elections, but the Republicans maintained control over the chamber.[91]

Reagan receiving a concession call from Mondale

When Reagan was asked in December 1984 what he wanted for Christmas he joked, "Well, Minnesota would have been nice".[93] Reagan lost Minnesota in both this election and in 1980, making it the only state he failed to win in either election, and also making him the first two-term Republican president not to carry Minnesota, and the same feat would later be duplicated by George W. Bush who won both the 2000 and 2004 elections without winning Minnesota either time. This is the last election where the Republican candidate achieved any of the following: Win every state in the Northeastern, Southern, and Pacific regions of the United States; win at least one county in every state; win any of the following states: Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington; and win the following states twice: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.[94]

The 525 electoral votes received by Reagan – the most received by a nominee in one election – added to the 489 electoral votes he achieved in 1980, gave him the most total electoral votes received by any candidate who was elected to the office of president twice (1,014), and the third largest number of electoral votes received by any candidate who was elected to the office of president behind Richard Nixon's 1,040 and Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1,876 total electoral votes.

Statistical analysis


Reagan's landslide victory resulted in him winning 97.6% of electoral votes, only behind Roosevelt's 98.5% in 1936. However, Reagan's popular vote share was below that of the winners in 1920, 1932, 1964, and 1972. His margin of victory was also lower than the winners of 1904, 1920, 1924, 1936, 1964, and 1972.[95]

Mondale's national percentage of the popular vote declined by 0.4% compared to Carter.[96] Reagan's percentage in each state rose from 1980, with his best performances occurring in the South and states with large third-party votes. Mondale improved upon Carter's 1980 results in 28 states, but performed worse in 22 states, 15 of which were in the South.[97]

Psephologists attributed a factor of the Republican victory to "Reagan Democrats", millions of Democrats who voted for Reagan, as in 1980. They characterized such Reagan Democrats as southern whites and northern blue-collar workers who voted for Reagan because they credited him with the economic recovery, saw Reagan as strong on national security issues, and perceived the Democrats as supporting the poor and minorities at the expense of the middle class. The Democratic National Committee commissioned a study after the election that came to these conclusions, but destroyed all copies of the final report, afraid that it would offend the party's key voters.[92]

The percentage of Democrats who voted for Reagan ranged from 16 to 26% while Republicans voting for Mondale ranged from 3 to 7% according to exit polls by the Los Angeles Times, NBC, ABC/The Washington Post, and CBS News/The New York Times.[98] One-third of people who supported Hart during the Democratic primary voted for Reagan.[99] Polling by CBS News and The New York Times reported that 66% of Anderson voters supported Mondale while 27% supported Reagan and 61% of Carter voted supported Mondale while 25% supported Reagan. 22% of those who did not vote in 1980 supported Reagan while 18% supported Mondale.[100]

Reagan also benefited from a near-total collapse in the third-party vote, which dropped to just 0.67% of the popular vote, its lowest level since 1964, with Bergland's campaign alone counting for over a third of this number, and none of the other third-party candidates exceeding 0.1% of the popular vote.

Reagan, who won 63% of white evangelical voters in 1980, received 80% of their votes against Mondale.[101]

It was also the last election where the Republican nominee won Wisconsin until 2016, Iowa until 2004, West Virginia until 2000, the last election in which the winning candidate won by a double-digit margin in the percentage of the popular vote, and the last election where the winning candidate won by an eight-digit margin in total popular votes (10 million or more).[94] Finally, despite his narrow loss in Minnesota, Reagan still won in five out of its eight congressional districts (by contrast, Nixon had only carried one Massachusetts district twelve years earlier) thus making Reagan the only U.S. presidential candidate in history to win the popular vote in a majority of congressional districts in every state. In stark contrast, Mondale became the first major-party U.S. presidential candidate since the start of popular presidential elections not to win a majority of the popular vote in any state (not counting Stephen A. Douglas in 1860, and William H. Taft in 1912, elections which were both complicated by strong third-party performances, plus the Democratic vote being divided between Douglas and John C. Breckinridge in 1860), having only won a plurality of 49.7% of the vote in Minnesota.

Electoral results

Electoral results
Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate
Count Percentage Vice-presidential candidate Home state Electoral vote
Ronald Reagan (incumbent) Republican California 54,455,472 58.77% 525 George H. W. Bush (incumbent) Texas 525
Walter Mondale Democratic Minnesota 37,577,352 40.56% 13 Geraldine Ferraro New York 13
David Bergland Libertarian California  228,111 0.25% 0 Jim Lewis Connecticut  0
Lyndon LaRouche Independent Virginia  78,809 0.09% 0 Billy Davis Mississippi  0
Sonia Johnson Citizens Idaho  72,161 0.08% 0 Richard Walton Rhode Island  0
Bob Richards Populist Texas  66,324 0.07% 0 Maureen Salaman California  0
Dennis L. Serrette New Alliance New Jersey  46,853 0.05% 0 Nancy Ross New York  0
Gus Hall Communist New York  36,386 0.04% 0 Angela Davis California  0
Melvin T. Mason Socialist Workers California  24,699 0.03% 0 Matilde Zimmermann New York  0
Larry Holmes Workers World New York  17,985 0.02% 0 Gloria La Riva California  0
Other 49,181 0.05% Other
Total 92,653,233 100% 538 538
Needed to win 270 270

Source for the popular vote:[102]
Source for the electoral vote:[103]

Popular vote
Electoral vote

Results by state



States/districts won by Reagan/Bush
States/districts won by Mondale/Ferraro
At-large results (Maine used the Congressional District Method)
Ronald Reagan
Walter Mondale
David Bergland
Margin State total
State electoral
# % electoral
# % electoral
# % electoral
# % #
Alabama 9 872,849 60.54 9 551,899 38.28 9,504 0.66 320,950 22.26 1,441,713 AL
Alaska 3 138,377 66.65 3 62,007 29.87 6,378 3.07 76,370 36.79 207,605 AK
Arizona 7 681,416 66.42 7 333,854 32.54 10,585 1.03 347,562 33.88 1,025,897 AZ
Arkansas 6 534,774 60.47 6 338,646 38.29 2,221 0.25 196,128 22.18 884,406 AR
California 47 5,467,009 57.51 47 3,922,519 41.27 49,951 0.53 1,544,490 16.25 9,505,423 CA
Colorado 8 821,818 63.44 8 454,974 35.12 11,257 0.87 366,844 28.32 1,295,381 CO
Connecticut 8 890,877 60.73 8 569,597 38.83 321,280 21.90 1,466,900 CT
Delaware 3 152,190 59.78 3 101,656 39.93 268 0.11 50,534 19.85 254,572 DE
D.C. 3 29,009 13.73 180,408 85.38 3 279 0.13 −151,399 −71.66 211,288 DC
Florida 21 2,730,350 65.32 21 1,448,816 34.66 754 0.02 1,281,534 30.66 4,180,051 FL
Georgia 12 1,068,722 60.17 12 706,628 39.79 151 0.01 362,094 20.39 1,776,093 GA
Hawaii 4 185,050 55.10 4 147,154 43.82 2,167 0.65 37,896 11.28 335,846 HI
Idaho 4 297,523 72.36 4 108,510 26.39 2,823 0.69 189,013 45.97 411,144 ID
Illinois 24 2,707,103 56.17 24 2,086,499 43.30 10,086 0.21 620,604 12.88 4,819,088 IL
Indiana 12 1,377,230 61.67 12 841,481 37.68 6,741 0.30 535,749 23.99 2,233,069 IN
Iowa 8 703,088 53.27 8 605,620 45.89 1,844 0.14 97,468 7.39 1,319,805 IA
Kansas 7 677,296 66.27 7 333,149 32.60 3,329 0.33 344,147 33.67 1,021,991 KS
Kentucky 9 822,782 60.04 9 539,589 39.37 283,193 20.66 1,370,461 KY
Louisiana 10 1,037,299 60.77 10 651,586 38.18 1,876 0.11 385,713 22.60 1,706,822 LA
Maine † 2 336,500 60.83 2 214,515 38.78 121,985 22.05 553,144 ME
Maine-1 1 175,472 59.90 1 117,450 40.10 58,022 19.81 292,922 ME1
Maine-2 1 161,028 62.39 1 97,065 37.61 63,963 24.78 258,093 ME2
Maryland 10 879,918 52.51 10 787,935 47.02 5,721 0.34 91,983 5.49 1,675,873 MD
Massachusetts 13 1,310,936 51.22 13 1,239,606 48.43 71,330 2.79 2,559,453 MA
Michigan 20 2,251,571 59.23 20 1,529,638 40.24 10,055 0.26 721,933 18.99 3,801,658 MI
Minnesota 10 1,032,603 49.54 1,036,364 49.72 10 2,996 0.14 −3,761 −0.18 2,084,449 MN
Mississippi 7 581,477 61.85 7 352,192 37.46 2,336 0.25 229,285 24.39 940,192 MS
Missouri 11 1,274,188 60.02 11 848,583 39.98 425,605 20.05 2,122,771 MO
Montana 4 232,450 60.47 4 146,742 38.18 5,185 1.35 85,708 22.30 384,377 MT
Nebraska 5 460,054 70.55 5 187,866 28.81 2,079 0.32 272,188 41.74 652,090 NE
Nevada 4 188,770 65.85 4 91,655 31.97 2,292 0.80 97,115 33.88 286,667 NV
New Hampshire 4 267,051 68.66 4 120,395 30.95 735 0.19 146,656 37.71 388,954 NH
New Jersey 16 1,933,630 60.09 16 1,261,323 39.20 6,416 0.20 672,307 20.89 3,217,862 NJ
New Mexico 5 307,101 59.70 5 201,769 39.23 4,459 0.87 105,332 20.48 514,370 NM
New York 36 3,664,763 53.84 36 3,119,609 45.83 11,949 0.18 545,154 8.01 6,806,810 NY
North Carolina 13 1,346,481 61.90 13 824,287 37.89 3,794 0.17 522,194 24.00 2,175,361 NC
North Dakota 3 200,336 64.84 3 104,429 33.80 703 0.23 95,907 31.04 308,971 ND
Ohio 23 2,678,560 58.90 23 1,825,440 40.14 5,886 0.13 853,120 18.76 4,547,619 OH
Oklahoma 8 861,530 68.61 8 385,080 30.67 9,066 0.72 476,450 37.94 1,255,676 OK
Oregon 7 685,700 55.91 7 536,479 43.74 149,221 12.17 1,226,527 OR
Pennsylvania 25 2,584,323 53.34 25 2,228,131 45.99 6,982 0.14 356,192 7.35 4,844,903 PA
Rhode Island 4 212,080 51.66 4 197,106 48.02 277 0.07 14,974 3.65 410,492 RI
South Carolina 8 615,539 63.55 8 344,470 35.57 4,360 0.45 271,069 27.99 968,540 SC
South Dakota 3 200,267 63.00 3 116,113 36.53 84,154 26.47 317,867 SD
Tennessee 11 990,212 57.84 11 711,714 41.57 3,072 0.18 278,498 16.27 1,711,993 TN
Texas 29 3,433,428 63.61 29 1,949,276 36.11 1,484,152 27.50 5,397,571 TX
Utah 5 469,105 74.50 5 155,369 24.68 2,447 0.39 313,736 49.83 629,656 UT
Vermont 3 135,865 57.92 3 95,730 40.81 1,002 0.43 40,135 17.11 234,561 VT
Virginia 12 1,337,078 62.29 12 796,250 37.09 540,828 25.19 2,146,635 VA
Washington 10 1,051,670 55.82 10 807,352 42.86 8,844 0.47 244,318 12.97 1,883,910 WA
West Virginia 6 405,483 55.11 6 328,125 44.60 77,358 10.51 735,742 WV
Wisconsin 11 1,198,800 54.19 11 995,847 45.02 4,884 0.22 202,953 9.18 2,212,016 WI
Wyoming 3 133,241 70.51 3 53,370 28.24 2,357 1.25 79,871 42.27 188,968 WY
TOTALS: 538 54,455,472 58.77 525 37,577,352 40.56 13 228,111 0.25 16,878,120 18.22 92,653,233 US

Maine allowed its electoral votes to be split between candidates. Two electoral votes were awarded to the winner of the statewide race and one electoral vote to the winner of each congressional district. Reagan won all four votes.

States that flipped from Democratic to Republican


Close states


Margin of victory less than 1% (10 electoral votes):

  1. Minnesota, 0.18% (3,761 votes)

Margin of victory more than 1%, but less than 5% (17 electoral votes):[106][107]

  1. Massachusetts, 2.79% (71,330 votes)
  2. Rhode Island, 3.65% (14,974 votes)

Margin of victory more than 5%, but less than 10% (90 electoral votes):[106][107]

  1. Maryland, 5.49% (91,983 votes)
  2. Pennsylvania, 7.35% (356,192 votes)
  3. Iowa, 7.38% (97,468 votes)
  4. New York, 8.01% (545,154 votes)
  5. Wisconsin, 9.17% (202,953 votes)

Tipping point:

  1. Michigan, 18.99% (721,933 votes)




Counties with highest percent of vote (Republican)

  1. Madison County, Idaho 92.88%
  2. Hansford County, Texas 89.38%
  3. Ochiltree County, Texas 89.15%
  4. Grant County, Nebraska 88.45%
  5. Blaine County, Nebraska 88.32%

Counties with highest percent of vote (Democratic)

  1. Washington, D.C. 85.38%
  2. Macon County, Alabama 82.71%
  3. Shannon County, South Dakota 81.41%
  4. Jefferson County, Mississippi 77.94%
  5. Hancock County, Georgia 76.61%

Voter demographics

The 1984 presidential vote by demographic subgroup
Demographic subgroup Mondale Reagan % of
total vote
Total vote 41 59 100
Moderates 46 54 42
Liberals 71 29 16
Conservatives 18 82 33
Democrats 74 26 38
Republicans 7 93 35
Independents 36 62 26
Men 38 62 47
Women 42 58 53
White 34 66 86
Black 91 9 10
Hispanic 66 34 3
18–24 years old 39 61 11
25–29 years old 43 57 12
30–49 years old 42 58 34
50–64 years old 39 61 23
65 and older 36 64 19
Family income
Under $12,500 54 46 15
$12,500–25,000 42 58 27
$25,000–35,000 40 60 20
$35,000–50,000 32 68 17
Over $50,000 31 69 12
East 46 53 26
Midwest 39 61 30
South 37 63 27
West 38 62 17
Union households
Union 54 46 26

Source: CBS News and The New York Times exit poll from the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research (9,174 surveyed)[108]

The 1984 presidential vote by important political issues[109]
Important Mondale Reagan % of
Yes 25 75 40
No 53 47 60
Arms control
Yes 65 35 29
No 33 67 71
Yes 8 92 25
No 53 47 75
Federal deficit reduction
Yes 47 53 23
No 40 60 77
Fairness towards poor
Yes 82 18 21
No 31 69 79
Yes 27 73 7
No 43 57 93
Policy towards Central America
Yes 61 39 4
No 41 59 96

Notable expressions and phrases

  • Where's the beef?: A slogan used by Wendy's to suggest that their competitors have smaller portions of meat in their sandwiches, but used in the Democratic primaries by Mondale to criticize Gary Hart's positions as lacking substance.
  • Morning in America: Slogan used by the Reagan campaign.

See also



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  3. ^ Lou Cannon (October 4, 2016). "Ronald Reagan: Campaigns and Elections". Miller Center of Public Affairs. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
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  7. ^ Ranney 1985, p. 29-31.
  8. ^ Frankovic 1985, p. 39.
  9. ^ Ranney 1985, p. 80.
  10. ^ Ranney 1985, p. 82-83.
  11. ^ Ranney 1985, p. 31.
  12. ^ Ranney 1985, p. 129-130.
  13. ^ Kalb, Deborah, ed. (2010). Guide to U.S. Elections. Washington, DC: CQ Press. p. 435. ISBN 978-1-60426-536-1.
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  1. ^ Wisconsin's primary ballot offered voters the options "Ronald Reagan Yes," "Ronald Reagan No," and "Others"

Works cited


Further reading

  • Boyd, Richard W., Paul R. Mencher, Philip J. Paseltiner, Ezra Paul, Alexander S. Vanda, "The 1984 Election as Anthony Downs and Stanley Kelley Might Interpret It", Political Behavior, Vol. 10, No. 3 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 197–213.
  • Goldman, Peter, et al. The quest for the presidency 1984 (1985) online
  • Johnstone, Andrew, and Andrew Priest, eds. US Presidential Elections and Foreign Policy: Candidates, Campaigns, and Global Politics from FDR to Bill Clinton (2017) pp 271–292. online
  • Ladd, Everett Carll (1985). "On Mandates, Realignments, and the 1984 Presidential Election". Political Science Quarterly. 100 (1): 1–24. doi:10.2307/2150858. JSTOR 2150858.
  • Leuchtenburg, William E. (1986). The 1984 Election in Historical Perspective. Waco: Baylor University Press. ISBN 0-918954-45-2.
  • Morris, Lorenzo (1990). The Social and Political Implications of the 1984 Jesse Jackson Presidential Campaign. New York: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-92785-7.
  • Moore, Jonathan, ed. (1986). Campaign for President: The Managers Look at '84. Dover: Auburn House. ISBN 0-86569-132-0.
  • Sandoz, E.; Crabb, C. V. Jr., eds. (1985). Election 84: Landslide Without a Mandate?. New York: New American Library. ISBN 0-451-62424-6.
  • Stempel, Guido H. III; John W. Windhauser (1991). The Media in the 1984 and 1988 Presidential Campaigns. New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-26527-5.