Democratic Party presidential primaries, 1980

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Democratic Party presidential primaries, 1980
United States
1976 ←
January 21 to June 3, 1980 → 1984

  JimmyCarterPortrait2.jpg Ted Kennedy, 1967 (cropped).jpg
Nominee Jimmy Carter Ted Kennedy
Home state Georgia Massachusetts
Contests won 36 12
Popular vote 10,043,016 7,381,693
Percentage 51.1% 37.6%

Democratic presidential primary map, 1980.svg

Results of the 1980 Democratic National Convention

Previous Democratic nominee

Jimmy Carter

Democratic nominee

Jimmy Carter

The 1980 Democratic presidential primaries were the selection process by which voters of the Democratic Party chose its nominee for President of the United States in the 1980 U.S. presidential election. Incumbent President Jimmy Carter was again selected as the nominee through a series of primary elections and caucuses culminating in the 1980 Democratic National Convention held from August 11 to August 14, 1980, in New York City. It is notable for being the last time that an incumbent president lost a state's presidential primary.

Primary race[edit]

In October 1978, Iran, a major oil supplier to the United States at the time, was experiencing a major uprising that severely damaged its oil infrastructure and greatly weakened its capability to produce oil.[1] In January 1979, shortly after Iran's leader Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled the country, lead Iranian opposition figure Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from a 14-year exile and installed an Islamist régime that was hostile towards the United States.[1] The damage that resulted from Khomeini's rise to power would soon be felt throughout many American cities.[1] In the spring and summer of 1979 inflation was on the rise and various parts of the country were experiencing energy shortages.[2] The gas lines last seen just after the Arab/Israeli war of 1973 were back and President Carter was widely blamed.

President Carter's approval ratings were very low—28% according to Gallup,[3] with some other polls giving even lower numbers. In July Carter returned from Camp David and announced a reshuffling of his cabinet on national television, giving a speech whose downcast demeanor resulted in it being widely labelled the "malaise speech." While the speech caused a brief upswing in the president's approval rating, the decision to dismiss several cabinet members was widely seen as a rash act of desperation, causing his approval rating to plummet back into the twenties. Some Democrats felt it worth the risk to mount a challenge to Carter in the primaries. Although Hugh Carey and William Proxmire decided not to run, Senator Edward M. Kennedy finally made his long-expected run at the Presidency.

Ted Kennedy had been asked to take his brother Robert’s place at the 1968 Democratic National Convention and had refused, in fear of his own safety. He ran for Senate Majority Whip in 1969, but many had thought that he was going to use that as a platform for 1972.[4] But then came the notorious Chappaquiddick incident that killed Kennedy's car passenger Mary Jo Kopechne. Kennedy refused to run for president in 1972 and 1976. Many of his supporters suspected that Chappaquiddick had destroyed any ability he had to win on a national level. However, in the summer of 1979, Kennedy consulted with his extended family, and that fall, he let it leak out that because of Carter’s failings, 1980 might indeed be the year. Gallup had him beating the president by over two to one.

Kennedy’s official announcement was scheduled for early November. A television interview with Roger Mudd of CBS a few days before the announcement went badly, however. Kennedy gave an "incoherent and repetitive"[5] answer to the question of why he was running, and the polls, which showed him leading the President by 58-25 in August now had him ahead 49-39.[6] Meanwhile, U.S. animosity towards the Khomeini régime greatly accelerated after 52 American hostages were taken by a group of Islamist students and militants at the U.S. embassy in Tehran and Carter’s approval ratings jumped in the 60-percent range in some polls, due to a "rally ‘round the flag" effect[7] and an appreciation of Carter's calm handling of the crisis. Kennedy was suddenly left far behind. Carter beat Kennedy decisively in Iowa and New Hampshire. Carter decisively defeated Kennedy everywhere except Massachusetts, until impatience began to build with the President’s strategy on Iran. When the primaries in New York and Connecticut came around, it was Kennedy who won.

Momentum built for Ted Kennedy after Carter's attempt to rescue the hostages on April 25 ended in disaster and drew further skepticism towards Carter's leadership ability.[8] Nevertheless, Carter was still able to maintain a substantial lead even after Kennedy won the key states of California and New Jersey in June. Despite this, Kennedy refused to drop out, and the 1980 Democratic National Convention was one of the nastiest on record. On the penultimate day, Kennedy conceded the nomination and called for a more liberal party platform in what many saw as the best speech of his career. On the platform on the final day, Kennedy for the most part ignored Carter.

The candidates[edit]

The three major candidates:

Candidate Born [9] Office Held State Popular vote Delegations Won
Carter
Jimmy Carter
October 1, 1924
(age 55)
Plains, Georgia
39th
President of the United States
(1977-1981)

Incumbent
Flag-map of Georgia (U.S. state).svg
Georgia
10,043,016
(51.13%)
IA, ME, NH, VT, AL, FL, GA, PR, IL, KS, WI
LA, TX, IN, NC, TN, NE, MD, OR, AR
ID, KY, NV, MT, OH, WV, MO, OR, WA
Kennedy
Ted Kennedy
February 22, 1932
(age 48)
Boston, Massachusetts
U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
(1961-2009)
Flag-map of Massachusetts.svg
Massachusetts
7,381,693
(37.58%)
AZ, MA, CT, NY, PA, ND
DC, CA, NJ, NM, RI, SD
Unpledged 1,288,423
(6.56%)
MI, AK
Jerry Brown 1978 cropped.jpg
Jerry Brown
April 7, 1938
(age 42)
San Francisco, California
34th
Governor of California
(1975-1983)
Flag-map of California.svg
California
575,296
(2.93%)

Also Withdrew During Primaries[edit]

Statewide contest by winner[edit]

Results by state

Jimmy Carter Ted Kennedy Jerry Brown Lyndon LaRouche Cliff Finch Richard Kay Unpledged Others
 
January 21 Iowa caucuses 59.16%[10] 31.23%[10] - - - - 9.61%[10] -
February 10 Maine caucuses 43.6%[11] 40.2%[11] 13.9%[11] - - - 2.4%[11] -
February 26 New Hampshire 47.08%[12] 37.30%[12] 9.60%[12] 2.08%[12] - 0.51%[12] - 3.45%[12]
March 4 Massachusetts 28.70%[12] 65.07%[12] 3.47%[12] - - - 2.17%[12] 0.59%[12]
March 4 Vermont * 73.08% 25.53% 0.90% 0.02% - - - 0.48%
March 11 Alabama 81.59% 13.22% 4.01% - - - 0.70% 0.49%
March 11 Florida 60.69% 23.20% 4.87% - - 1.75% 9.50% -
March 11 Georgia 88.04% 8.40% 1.89% 0.13% 0.36% 0.22% 0.96% -
March 16 Puerto Rico 51.67% 48.04% 0.19% - - - - 0.10%
March 18 Illinois 65.01% 29.96% 3.26% 1.60% - - - 0.17
March 25 Connecticut 41.47% 46.92% 2.56% 2.67% - - 6.37% -
March 25 New York 41.08% 58.92% - - - - - -
April 1 Kansas 56.63% 31.62% 4.87% - 0.32% - - 0.81%
April 1 Wisconsin 56.17% 30.10% 11.83% 1.10% 0.29% - 0.43% 0.08%
April 5 Louisiana 55.74% 22.52% 4.68% - 3.11% 0.94% 11.60% 1.42%
April 22 Pennsylvania 45.40% 45.68% 2.34% - - - 5.82% 0.78%
April 22 Vermont caucuses 32%[13] 45%[13] - - - - 23%[13] -
April 26 Michigan caucuses 46.68%[14] 48.08%[14] - - - - 5.24%[14] -
May 3 Texas 55.93% 22.81% 2.58% - - - 18.68% -
May 6 Washington D.C. 36.94% 61.67% - 1.39% - - - -
May 6 Indiana 67.68% 32.32% - - - - - -
May 6 North Carolina 70.09% 17.73% 2.91% - - - 9.28% -
May 6 Tennessee 75.22% 18.07% 1.90% 0.31% 0.56% - 3.91% 0.01%
May 13 Nebraska 46.87% 37.58% 3.56% 0.76% - - 10.42% 0.81%
May 13 Maryland 47.48% 37.96% 3.00% 0.92% 1.03% - 9.62% -
May 20 Oregon 56.83% 31.22% 9.37% - - - - 2.57%
May 20 Michigan caucuses ** - - 29.38% 11.41% - - 46.40% 12.81%
May 27 Arkansas 60.09% 17.52% - - 4.34% - 18.05% -
May 27 Idaho 62.17% 21.96% 4.12% - - - 11.76% -
May 27 Kentucky 66.92% 22.96% - - 1.05% 1.09% 8.00% -
May 27 Nevada 37.58% 28.82% - - - - 33.60% -
June 3 California 37.64% 44.80% 4.04% 2.13% - - 11.38% -
June 3 Montana 51.46% 36.65% - - - - 11.89% -
June 3 New Jersey 37.87% 56.18% - - - - 3.48% 2.48%
June 3 New Mexico 41.80% 46.26% - 3.01% 2.82% - 6.11% -
June 3 Ohio 51.06% 44.16% - 2.97% - 1.81% - -
June 3 Rhode Island 25.85% 68.30% 0.81% 3.03% - - 2.01% -
June 3 South Dakota 45.45% 48.60% - - - - 5.95% -
June 3 West Virginia 62.18% 37.82% - - - - - -
Legend:   1st place
(popular vote)
2nd place
(popular vote)
3rd place
(popular vote)

*  Vermont delegates selected via caucus process beginning April 22
** Michigan delegates selected via caucus process beginning April 26

Popular vote[edit]

Primaries total popular vote[15]

  • Jimmy Carter (inc.) - 10,043,016 (51.13%)
  • Ted Kennedy - 7,381,693 (37.58%)
  • Unpledged - 1,288,423 (6.56%)
  • Jerry Brown - 575,296 (2.93%)
  • Lyndon LaRouche - 177,784 (0.91%)
  • Others - 79,352 (0.40%)
  • Richard B Kay - 48,061 - (0.25%)
  • Cliff Finch - 48,032 (0.25%)
  • Bob Maddox - 4,002 (0.02%)
  • Donald J Reaux - 2,255 (0.01%)

Convention[edit]

Presidential tally[16]

In the vice presidential roll call, Mondale was re-nominated with 2,428.7 votes to 723.3 not voting and 179 scattering.

Key results[edit]

Iowa caucuses[edit]

Iowa caucuses, 1980[10]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jimmy Carter (Incumbent) 59.1%
Democratic Ted Kennedy 31.2%
Democratic uncommitted 9.6%
Majority 27.9%

Presidential preference, state delegate equivalents, 96% of precincts reporting.[10]

Maine caucuses[edit]

Maine caucuses, 1980[11]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jimmy Carter (Incumbent) 14,528 43.6%
Democratic Ted Kennedy 13,384 40.2%
Democratic Jerry Brown 4,621 13.9%
Democratic uncommitted 793 2.4%
Majority 1,144 3.4%

At 4:38 p.m.—before a third of the caucuses had even begun—CBS interrupted its regular programming with the bulletin:

CBS News estimates that when the caucuses are completed, President Carter will have won just over half of [the Maine] delegates. Second will be Senator Kennedy with just over a third...We repeat, President Carter is the winner.[17]

New Hampshire primary[edit]

New Hampshire primary, 1980
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Jimmy Carter (Incumbent) 52,692 47.08%
Democratic Ted Kennedy 41,745 37.30%
Democratic Jerry Brown 10,743 9.60%
Democratic other 6,750 6.03%
Majority 10,947 9.78%

Massachusetts primary[edit]

Massachusetts primary, 1980
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Edward Kennedy 590,393 65.07%
Democratic Jimmy Carter (Incumbent) 260,401 28.70%
Democratic Jerry Brown 31,498 3.47%
Democratic no preference 19,663 2.17%
Democratic other 5,368 0.59%
Majority 329,992 36.37%

Further reading[edit]

Books[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Oil Squeeze". Time magazine. 1979-02-05. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Inflation-proofing". ConsumerReports.org. 2010-02-11. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  3. ^ "Poll: Bush approval mark at all-time low". CNN. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  4. ^ US News and World Report January 1969.
  5. ^ Allis, Sam (2009-02-18). "Chapter 4: Sailing Into the Wind: Losing a quest for the top, finding a new freedom". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  6. ^ Time Magazine, 11/12/79
  7. ^ Marra, Robin F.; Ostrom, Charles W.; Simon, Dennis M. (1 January 1990). "Foreign Policy and Presidential Popularity: Creating Windows of Opportunity in the Perpetual Election". The Journal of Conflict Resolution. 34 (4): 588–623. 
  8. ^ The Iranian Hostage Rescue Mission
  9. ^ Candidate ages listed as they were during the convention in 1932
  10. ^ a b c d e Clymer, Adam (January 23, 1980). "Candidates shifting tactics". The New York Times. p. A1. 
    Winebrenner, Hugh; Goldford, Dennis J. (2010). "The 1980 caucuses: a media event becomes an institution". The Iowa precinct caucuses: the making of a media event (3rd ed.). Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. p. 99. ISBN 978-1-58729-915-5. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Lindsay, Christopher (Associated Press) (February 15, 1980). "Carter margin over Kennedy smaller than first believed". LexisNexis Academic. Carter received 14,528 caucus votes, 43.6 percent; Kennedy received 13,384 votes, 40.2 percent; Brown received 4,621 votes, 13.9 percent; Uncommitted were 793 votes, 2.4 percent. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Elections Research Center (1981). Scammon, Richard M.; McGillivray, Alice V., eds. America votes 14: a handbook of contemporary American election statistics. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Quarterly. pp. 33–39. ISSN 0065-678X. OCLC 1240412. 
  13. ^ a b c . (April 26, 1980). "Kennedy and Bush still losing in delegates". National Journal. 12 (17): 69. ISSN 0360-4217. Vermont—Kennedy did surprisingly well in Democratic town and city caucuses on April 22 to choose delegates to the May 24 state convention, where the state's 12 national convention seats will be filled on the basis of the caucus vote. Kennedy won roughly 45 per cent of the vote to Carter's 32 per cent; the rest were uncommitted. 
  14. ^ a b c Johnson, Malcolm (Associated Press) (April 28, 1980). "Kennedy wins again but gains little". LexisNexis Academic. The final totals showed Kennedy with 7,793 votes and Carter with 7,567. About 850 votes were divided between uncommitted and other candidates, but neither category had enough votes to win a delegate. 
  15. ^ "US President - D Primaries Race - Feb 26, 1980". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  16. ^ "US President - D Convention Race - Aug 11, 1980". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2011-01-22. 
  17. ^ Reid, T.R. (February 12, 1980). "CBS prediction of Maine vote angers winner and losers alike". The Washington Post. p. A4. 
    Clymer, Adam (February 14, 1980). "Kennedy aide says vote report helped Carter in Maine caucuses". The New York Times. p. A22. 
    Associated Press (May 1, 1980). "Carter and Kennedy tie in Maine". The New York Times. p. 30.