The Presidential Election of 1980 and the Rise of the Right
Andrew E. Busch
Many have pointed to the Iran hostage crisis, others to galloping inflation. In reality, as Andrew Busch makes clear, Ronald Reagan's defeat of President Jimmy Carter in 1980 was attributable to more than any one issue, no matter how galvanizing. It marked the growing ascendancy of conservative attitudes that had been brewing for two decades—and marked the clear end of the era of New Deal liberalism.
Busch offers the first comprehensive study of this contest, going beyond journalistic accounts to show why it remains one of the truly landmark elections of the past century. Through a compelling story full of colorful characters, unexpected plot twists, and dramatic finales, he reveals how it both reflected the politics of its time and foreshadowed our nation's political future.
“Conservative domination of American life may or may not be ending, but among some circles, nostalgia for Ronald Reagan will likely linger. Busch’s compact, celebratory account reminds readers how the Right came to power in the first place.”
“A very good, comprehensive, useful book on the 1980 election.”
—Reviews in American HistorySee all reviews...
“The 1980 election remade not only American politics and American government, but America itself. That is Andrew Busch’s striking argument. And his graceful narrative does a fine job of telling us just how it happened.”
—Claremont Review of Books
“An illuminating investigation of this key contest, which brought Reagan and the Republican Party’s conservative wing to power. Busch offers an admiring but fair appraisal of Reagan’s victory over a hapless Jimmy Carter. . . . [He] succeeds admirably in providing an election analysis that is concise and informative.”
“An exciting new review of America’s march into the new age of Ronald Reagan.”
“Busch tells an important story here about what he calls ‘the Earthquake of 1980.’ Well-organized, well-paced, and well-argued, this is a first-rate political history.”
—Gil Troy, author of Morning in America: How Ronald Reagan Invented the 1980s
“A new series needs a worthy inauguration. The University Press of Kansas has provided the former in its series on crucial elections. Andrew Busch has provided the latter with Reagan’s Victory: The Presidential Election of 1980 and the Rise of the Right. Busch gathers all the elements of that sour, unpredictable, bubbling, confused, but ultimately iconic affair: the issue context, the cast of contenders, the campaign dynamic, and a view of the aftermath. And he ties them together with a focus on crisis and renewal, giving the 1980 election its claims on political consequence—and on our attention.”
—Byron E. Shafer, author of The Two Majorities and the Puzzle of Modern American Politics
“A meticulous, almost surgical, analysis of the 1980 election.”
—Burton I. Kaufman, author of The Presidency of James Earl Carter, Jr..See fewer reviews...
Beginning with Carter's "crisis of confidence" speech on July 15, 1979, Busch introduces the field of candidates, follows their campaigns through the primaries and general election, identifies the key turning points and winning strategies, and assesses the results, including the GOP's first Senate majority in twenty-six years. He shows how the Democrats were weakened by the demise of the New Deal coalition and a decline in public confidence, while Republicans were bolstered by the growth of the conservative movement and by all that had gone wrong during the Carter presidency. He also examines the creation of a Sunbelt coalition, the growing influence of religious conservatives, and the independent candidacy of John Anderson, which held Reagan's majority to 51 percent and foreshadowed Ross Perot's 1992 run.
Reagan's victory marked a major turning point in American presidential history, realigned the demographics of party affiliation throughout the nation (especially in the nation's Sunbelt), and gave conservatives their first real victory in their fight against Big Government. Busch's book recaptures the people and events of that historic campaign and greatly enlarges our understanding of American politics from the 1960s to the present.