U.S. presidential election, 1984: Wikis


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1980 United States 1988
United States presidential election, 1984
November 6, 1984
Official Portrait of President Reagan 1981.jpg U.S Vice-President Walter Mondale.jpg
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%
Presidential election results map. Red denotes states won by Reagan/Bush, Blue denotes the state won by Mondale/Ferraro.

Incumbent President
Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan

The United States presidential election of 1984 was a contest between the incumbent President Ronald Reagan, the Republican candidate, and former Vice President Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate. Reagan was helped by a strong economic recovery from the deep recession of 1981–1982. Reagan carried 49 of the 50 states, becoming only the second presidential candidate to do so after Richard Nixon's victory in the 1972 presidential election. Mondale's only electoral votes came from his home state of Minnesota—which he won by fewer than 3,800 votes—and the District of Columbia, which has always been considered a Democratic guarantee. Reagan's 525 electoral votes (out of 538) is the highest total ever received by a presidential candidate. Mondale's 13 electoral votes is also the 2nd-fewest ever received by a second-place candidate, second only to Alf Landon's 8 in 1936. In the national popular vote, Reagan received 58.8% to Mondale's 40.6%.




Republican Party candidates

Candidates gallery


Ronald Reagan—the incumbent president—was the assured nominee for the Republican Party. The popular vote from the Republican primaries was as follows:[1]

  • Ronald Reagan (inc.): 6,484,987 (98.78%)
  • Unpledged delegates: 55,458 (0.85%)
  • Harold Stassen: 12,749 (0.19%)
  • Benjamin Fernandez: 202 (0.00%)

Reagan was renominated by a vote of 2,233 (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.

The Balloting
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

Candidates gallery


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. But, after Kennedy ultimately declined to run, 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 Walter 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 sometimes showed. He notably referred to Mondale as a "lapdog," and to former astronaut Glenn as "Sky King" who was "confused in his capsule."

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.[2] 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.[3]

Hart of 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 criticized Mondale as an "old-fashioned" New Deal Democrat who symbolized "failed policies" of the past. Hart positioned himself 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.

At a roundtable debate between the three remaining Democratic candidates moderated by Phil Donahue, Mondale and Hart got in 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."[4] 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.[5] 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.

This race for the nomination was the closest in two generations, and it has been the most recent occasion that a major party presidential nomination has gone all the way to the convention. During the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries and after (until Hillary Clinton suspended her campaign), it was speculated by many that the 2008 Democratic presidential nominee might be decided by a brokered convention. In the end, there was no such happening.

After Mondale's loss to Reagan in the general election in November 1984, Hart quickly emerged as the frontrunner for the Democratic Party's 1988 presidential nomination. He maintained that lead until a sex scandal derailed his candidacy in 1987.


Notable endorsements during the primaries included:

Walter Mondale

Gary Hart

Jesse Jackson

John Glenn

Reubin Askew


These were the convention's nomination tally:

The Balloting
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."[17] Although Mondale intended to expose Reagan as hypocritical and position himself as the "honest" candidate, the choice of taxes as a discussion point likely damaged his electoral chances.

Vice-Presidential nominee

Mondale chose U.S. Rep. Geraldine A. Ferraro of New York as his running mate, making her the first woman nominated for that position by a major party.

Aides later said that Mondale was determined to establish a precedent with his vice presidential candidate, considering San Francisco Mayor (later U.S. Senator) Dianne Feinstein and Governor of Kentucky Martha Layne Collins, who were also female; Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, an African American; and San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, a Hispanic, as other finalists for the nomination.[3] Unsuccessful nomination candidate Jackson derided Mondale's vice-presidential screening process as a "P.R. parade of personalities," however he praised Mondale for his choice, having himself pledged to name a woman to the ticket in the event he was nominated.

Others however preferred Senator Lloyd Bentsen because he would appeal to more conservative Southern voters. Nomination rival Gary Hart had also been lobbying for the vice-presidential spot on the ticket once it became apparent that Mondale had clinched the majority of delegates; 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.

Ferraro, as a Catholic, came under fire from some members of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church for being pro-choice on abortion. Further controversy erupted over statements regarding the release of her husband John Zaccaro's tax returns.

Other parties

David Bergland was the nominee of the Libertarian Party. His running mate was James A. Lewis. The Bergland-Lewis ticket appeared on 39 state ballots.

The Communist Party USA ran Gus Hall and Angela Davis.

General election


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.

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), as a campaign song, without permission, until Springsteen, a lifelong Democrat, insisted that they stop.

The Reagan campaign was very skilled at producing effective television advertising. Two of the more memorable ads it produced were commonly known as "Bear in the woods" and "Morning in America".

By 1984, Reagan was the oldest president to have ever served, and there were many questions about his capacity to endure the grueling demands of the presidency, particularly after Reagan had a poor showing in his first debate 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. However, in the next debate on October 21, Reagan effectively neutralized the issue by quipping, "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."


Election results by county.      Ronald Reagan      Walter Mondale

Reagan was re-elected following the November 6 election in an electoral and popular vote landslide, winning 49 states. Reagan won a record 525 electoral votes total (of 538 possible), and received 58.8 percent of the popular vote. Mondale's 13 electoral college votes (from his home state of Minnesota—which he won by 0.18%—and the District of Columbia) marked the lowest total of any major Presidential candidate since Alf Landon's 1936 loss to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Mondale's defeat was also the worst for any Democratic Party candidate in U.S. history in the Electoral College, though others, including George B. McClellan, Alton Parker, James M. Cox, John W. Davis, and George McGovern, did worse in the popular vote.

Psephologists pointed to "Reagan Democrats"—millions of Democrats who voted for Reagan. 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.

As of 2008, the 1984 election was the last time that a Republican presidential candidate won the states of Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Close states

Margin of victory less than 5%[18][19]

  1. Minnesota, 0.18%
  2. Massachusetts, 2.79%
  3. Rhode Island, 3.65%

Margin of victory more than 5%, but less than 10%[20][21]

  1. Maryland, 5.49%
  2. Pennsylvania, 7.35%
  3. Iowa, 7.38%
  4. New York, 8.01%
  5. Wisconsin, 9.17%


Presidential candidate Party Home state Popular vote Electoral
Running mate Running mate's
home state
Running mate's
electoral vote
Count Pct
Ronald Wilson Reagan Republican California 54,455,472 58.8% 525 George Herbert Walker Bush Texas 525
Walter Frederick Mondale Democratic Minnesota 37,577,352 40.6% 13 Geraldine Anne Ferraro New York 13
David Bergland Libertarian California  228,111 0.3% 0 Jim Lewis Connecticut  0
Other 392,298 0.4% Other
Total 92,653,233 100% 538 538
Needed to win 270 270

Source for the popular vote: Leip, David. 1984 Presidential Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (August 7, 2005). Source for the electoral vote: Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996. Official website of the National Archives. (August 7, 2005).

See also


  1. ^ Our Campaigns - US President - R Primaries Race - Feb 20, 1984
  2. ^ Larry J. Sabato's Feeding Frenzy. "Jesse Jackson's 'Hymietown' Remark – 1984". Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/clinton/frenzy/jackson.htm.  
  3. ^ a b Thomas, Evan; Allis, Sam; Beckwith, David (July 2, 1984), "Trying to Win the Peace", Time Magazine, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,926644,00.html  
  4. ^ Kurt Andersen, "A Wild Ride to the End", Time, May 28, 1984
  5. ^ Ruth Marcus, "Parsing Tsunami Tuesday", Washington Post, January 16, 2008
  6. ^ Our Campaigns - IA US President - D Caucuses Race - Jan 24, 1984
  7. ^ Our Campaigns - NY US President - D Primary Race - Apr 03, 1984
  8. ^ Our Campaigns - Candidate - Jim Bates
  9. ^ a b c d "US President - D Primaries - Feb 01, 1984". Our Campaigns. 2008-02-07. http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=55208. Retrieved 2008-03-07.  
  10. ^ Our Campaigns - CA US President - D Primary Race - Jun 05, 1984
  11. ^ Our Campaigns - Candidate - Marion S. Barry, Jr
  12. ^ Our Campaigns - Candidate - Orval E. Faubus
  13. ^ Our Campaigns - MA US President - D Primary Race - Mar 13, 1984
  14. ^ Our Campaigns - GA US President - D Primary Race - Mar 13, 1984
  15. ^ Our Campaigns - AL US President - D Primary Race - Mar 13, 1984
  16. ^ Our Campaigns - FL US President - D Primary Race - Mar 13, 1984
  17. ^ Howell Raines; National Desk (1984-07-20). "Party Nominates Rep. Ferraro; Mondale, in Acceptance, Vows Fair Policies and Deficit Cut". New York Times: p. A1. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20617F63A5D0C738EDDAE0894DC484D81.  
  18. ^ http://psephos.adam-carr.net/countries/u/usa/pres/1984.txt
  19. ^ Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - County Data
  20. ^ http://psephos.adam-carr.net/countries/u/usa/pres/1984.txt
  21. ^ Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections - County Data

Further reading

  • Jonathan Moore, ed (1986). Campaign for President: The Managers Look at '84. Dover: Auburn House. ISBN 0865691320.  
  • Leuchtenburg, William E. (1986). The 1984 Election in Historical Perspective. Waco: Baylor University Press. ISBN 0918954452.  
  • Morris, Lorenzo (1990). The Social and Political Implications of the 1984 Jesse Jackson Presidential Campaign. New York: Praeger. ISBN 0275927857.  
  • Sandoz, E.; Crabb, C. V., Jr., eds. (1985), Election 84: Landslide Without a Mandate?, New York: New American Library, ISBN 0451624246  
  • Stempel, Guido H., III; John W. Windhauser (1991). The Media in the 1984 and 1988 Presidential Campaigns. New York: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0313265275.  

External links


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