effort to avoid embarrassing defeats on the platform, Carter forces allowed Kennedy to address the convention, and the Senator gave one of his most eloquent addresses, assuring liberal Democrats that "the dream shall never die."21 The delegates then approved minority platform planks on economic policy proposed by Kennedy, including an antirecession jobs program, a housing program, and a promise to prioritize fighting unemployment over fighting inflation. Seeking to avoid roll calls on the economic issues, the Carter forces agreed to the latter plank before the balloting, and lost on the other two. The result was a platform that could hardly have satisfied liberal Democrats more, even had Kennedy been the nominee.
President Carter won renomination on the first ballot by a vote of 2,129.02 to 1,150.48 for Kennedy. If Carter won the nomination in 1976 only because liberal Democrats were divided, in 1980 he won renomination only because he was the sitting President.
Kennedy endorsed Carter without enthusiasm. Plagued by recession and the hostage crisis, his party as divided as Ford's had been four years before, President Carter was defeated for re-election by Republican Ronald Reagan.
Tables 5.7 and 5.8 illustrate the mirror-image similarity of the geographic and ideological divisions in the two nominating contests involving a challenge to an incumbent President. Across party lines, most of the states that supported challenger Kennedy in the Democratic Party had supported President Ford in the Republican Party. Most of the states that supported challenger Reagan in the Republican Party would support President Carter in the Democratic Party. Though a number of states, most of them classified as "moderate" in the 1964-1972 alignment of states, supported both Presidents, the states supporting the two challengers, Reagan the conservative Republican and Kennedy the liberal Democrat, are almost mutually exclusive.
The challenges to the Presidents within their own parties in 1976 and 1980 both reflected the ideological polarization that had already occurred between the parties. Neither challenge would have been so strong had it not come from the majority faction in the nominating politics of each party, the conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats. Neither President could have overcome the challenge without the advantages of incumbency. Each President came away from his convention with a badly divided party, and only lukewarm support from his recent intraparty opponents, and neither President could win the ensuing election.
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Publication information: Book title: Realignment and Party Revival:Understanding American Electoral Politics at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century. Contributors: Arthur Paulson - Author. Publisher: Praeger Publishers. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 137.
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