Why did Jimmy Carter win the presidential contest in 1976 and yet lose to Ronald Reagan only four years later?

1028 Words Jan 3rd, 2014 5 Pages
Why did Jimmy Carter win the presidential contest in 1976 and yet lose to Ronald Reagan only four years later?

Carter took the presidency with several issues that needed resolving, such as rising inflation and unemployment, a country disillusioned with the political system and turbulent foreign relations. To determine the reasons why he was successful in 1976 but not in 1980, it is necessary to look at what his successes and failures were, as well as the different situations in 1976 and 1980.
While he seemed the perfect antidote to the corrupt ‘Washington scene’ in 1976, he turned out to be perceived as weak and ineffectual in his economic and foreign policies. He also had much stronger competition from Reagan in 1980 than he had from
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These were conservative people who were disgusted with more liberal policies in favour of abortion, sexual freedom, welfare and equal rights for women, black people and homosexuals. They were desperate for a return to traditional family values, which Reagan promised to bring back. With an estimated 5 million evangelical Christians who had never voted before now voting for Reagan, he was gaining vast numbers of new votes while Carter was losing ones he should have been able to rely upon.

Issues with foreign policies under Carter also played a large part in him losing the election in 1980. As well as concerns over him taking in 125,000 refugees from Cuba and equivocating over dealings with the Soviet Union, there was the Iran hostage crisis in 1980. The timing of this was terrible for Carter as it continued throughout the election, and his failed rescue attempt made him appear weak and incompetent. This of course played into Reagan’s hands, as he promised to bring strength and security to the USA, and to return it to it’s superpower status.

One of the American population’s major concerns when Carter became president was rapidly rising inflation, as well as rising unemployment. Despite his promises when campaigning for presidency, his legislations did little to help the economic situation, that is if they even made it through Congress. This left many people wondering ‘can Carter cope?’ The rate of inflation had risen even higher

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