United States presidential election, 1984

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"I want you to know also 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." - President Reagan
President Ronald Reagan was still popular and approved of by the time came for him to be reelected. While Reagan easily won the Republican nomination with hardly any dissent, Democrats searched hard to find a candidate they thought could win. They eventually chose former Vice President Walter Mondale as their candidate. Mondale surprised America by choosing Representative Geraldine Ferraro as his running-mate, the first female Vice Presidential candidate in history and a political unknown. Despite his popularity, Reagan campaigned hard for reelection; however he seemed to look rather exhausted in the first of the Presidential Debates which was on the economy, an area where his administration had been strong. He improved by the second debate which was on foreign policy -- an area where he did not yet have the same strong accomplishments, but Reagan appeared fresh and experienced and bounced back.

Campaign

By 1984 Ronald Reagan was popular amoung Republicans and "Reagan Democrats." Mondale made issue over the large federal deficit, however that was overshadowed with low oil prices, low inflation and high employment. Mondale made a bold choice in his campaign, when he announced in his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention that he would raise taxes, which would come back to backfire on him. Reagan's campaign was mostly optimistic and positive. He produced several ads entitled "morning in America", which included lush images of Americans buying houses, raising flags, washing cars, and going to work. His campaign also talked about the importance of military spending and the Soviet threat. The most famous example is in an advertisement with a bear representing the Soviet Union prowling around the woods. The narrator then asks, "Isn’t it smart to be as strong as the bear—if there is a bear?"

The two candidates participated in two presidential debates and George H. W. Bush and Geraldine Ferraro in one Vice Presidential debate. At 72, Reagan was asked about his age during the second debate. He responded "I want you to know also 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", which would become one of the most memorable moments of the campaign.

Reagan was able to win the election with a landslide popular and electoral majority over Mondale, who won only the District of Columbia (which has never been won by a Republican candidate) and his home state of Minnesota.[1] The Mondale/Ferraro ticket lost Geraldine Ferraro's home district, which voted for Reagan. In many ways, the election and its result were a repeat of the 1972 election, where a sitting Republican president won in a landslide against an extreme liberal Democrat.

Even in Minnesota, Mondale won by a mere 3761 votes, meaning Reagan came within less than 3800 votes of winning in all fifty states. Reagan won a record 525 electoral votes total (of 538 possible), and received nearly 60 percent of the popular vote. Mondale's 13 electoral college votes marked the lowest total of any major Presidential candidate since Alf Landon's 1936 loss to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With regards to the Electoral College, Mondale's defeat was also the worst for any Democratic Party candidate in history.

Results

candidates popular vote percent electoral vote
Ronald Reagan 54, 450, 603 58.8% 525
Walter Mondale 37, 573, 671 40.6% 13
David Bergland 227, 949 0.2% 0
Lyndon LaRouche 76, 773 0.1% 0
Sonia Johnson 72, 153 0.1% 0
Bob Richards 62, 371 0.1% 0
Dennis Serrette 47, 209 0.1% 0
Gus Hall 35, 561 0.0% 0
Mel Mason 24, 687 0.0% 0

[2]

References

  1. Encyclopedia of Presidents, by Zachary Kent, Children's Press, 1989, pp. 71-73.
  2. A Pictoral History of the U.S. Presidents, by Clare Gibson, Gramercy Books, 2001, p. 127.
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