Sunday, September 24, 2023

the last book I ever read (Jimmy Carter: The American Presidents Series: The 39th President, 1977-1981, excerpt seven)

from Jimmy Carter: The American Presidents Series: The 39th President, 1977-1981 by Julian E. Zelizer:

Caddell called Jordan at 2:00 a.m. on the morning of the 1980 presidential election. Jordan, initially disoriented, soon realized that Caddell wanted to give him the final poll results. Caddell told Jordan that “it’s all over—it’s gone!” When Jordan asked him to explain what he meant, Caddell responded, “The sky has fallen in. We are getting murdered. All the people that have been waiting and holding out for some reason to vote Democratic have left us.” He somberly predicted, “It’s going to be a big Reagan victory, Ham, in the range of eight to ten points.” He said that it was the “hostage thing” that did them in with “all these last-minute developments about the hostages and all the anniversary stuff just served as a strong reminder that those people were still over there and Jimmy Carter hasn’t been able to do anything about it.”

Although the race had been close until the final week, Reagan won a larger Electoral College total than any other president except for Roosevelt in 1936 and Nixon in 1972. Reagan received 51 percent of the popular vote, with Anderson winning 7 percent and Carter 41 percent. A whopping 489 electoral votes went to the president-elect, as Carter received a meager 49. Carter did not perform well with the traditional Democratic constituencies, including blue-collar workers, Catholics, Jews, and southerners. On the night of the election, Carter admitted, “I spent a major portion of my time trying to recruit back the Democratic constituency that should have been naturally supportive—Jews, Hispanics, blacks, the poor, labor, and so forth.” Carter won only in the District of Columbia, Georgia, Maryland, Hawaii, Rhode Island, and Minnesota. Even New Jersey and Massachusetts went Republican.

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