The Election of 1980: Reports and Interpretations

The Election of 1980: Reports and Interpretations

The Election of 1980: Reports and Interpretations

The Election of 1980: Reports and Interpretations

Excerpt

Men and women often live their lives seeking a perfect time, a brief moment that will provide a matchless experience. This was the quest of Faust, who dreamt of a point in his existence when he could say, "Tarry a while, you are so beautiful."With these words, we began our examination of the election of 1976. That seemed to be a time of new opportunities. Four years later, we recall it as a period of brief satisfaction but incomplete fulfillment. Writing now of the election of 1980 we, like other voters, have mixed feelings - of nostalgia for the bittersweet past, of acceptance of the ambiguous present, of hope for the uncertain future.In the following essays, six political scientists report and interpret the 1980 election results. The political year saw much innovation and much conflict. A conservative faction won full control of the Republican party, while the incumbent Democratic President faced a major challenge. Issues ranged from economic policy to women's rights. Public opinion, uncertain through much of the campaign, eventually turned decisively toward the Republicans. As the twentieth century waned, America inaugurated its oldest elected President. These events require years of analysis. We hope to contribute to that effort.The authors of this work — Ross K. Baker, Kathleen A. Frankovic, Charles E. Jacob, Wilson Carey McWilliams, Henry A. Plotkin, and Gerald M. Pomper — are associates of the political science program of Rutgers University. The book represents a collaborative effort of this group, consisting of five Rutgers faculty members and a distinguished alumna. We agree in many of our conclusions — most notably in interpreting the 1980 results as a negative reaction to the Carter administration rather than a victory for conservative ideology. We differ on some other interpretations and hope that our diverse arguments will provoke further discussion. . .

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