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The Road to Now

Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Ben Sawyer (MTSU History) share conversations with great thinkers from a variety of backgrounds – historians, artists, legal scholars, political figures and more –who help us uncover the many roads that run between past and present. For more information, visit TheRoadToNow.com If you'd like to support our work, join us on Patreon: Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow
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Now displaying: Page 1
Mar 18, 2024

On November 4, 1980, California Republican Ronald Reagan trounced Jimmy Carter at the polls, beating the incumbent by almost 10 percentage points in the popular election and winning 489 of 538 electors. That type of victory combined with Reagan’s larger than life place in modern political history might lead you to believe the 1980 campaign was never in doubt. But it was. And in early 1980, both men faced viable challengers within their own party, as well as a third party candidate whose 5.7 million popular votes could have changed the outcome of a closer election. The Presidential election of 1980 was not just a turning point- it was, in fact, far more interesting than most people give it credit for.

 

Why did Ted Kennedy decide to challenge the sitting President in the Democratic Primary? How did George Bush win 3 of the first seven GOP primaries against the presumed nominee? And why, as his party’s fortunes looked the best they had in years, did Republican hopeful John B. Anderson of Illinois decide to leave the GOP to run a third party campaign? Let’s find out.

 

Welcome to The Road to Now’s Third Party Elections Series. Today: The election of 1980 with Rick Perlstein.

 

Rick Perlstein is the author of multiple award-winning books, including Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America (2009) and Reaganland: America’s Right Turn, 1976-1980 (2021). You can hear Rick discussing Reaganland in his previous appearance on The Road to Now in episode #199

 

You can get an extended version of this conversation, extra episodes and more by supporting us on Patreon! Click here for the extended episode!

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

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