Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ronald Reagan Won in 1980 Because the People Didn't Like Jimmy Carter

Oh, there goes that ReaganTMan again. Ronald Reagan is God. Ronald Reagan could do no wrong. Ronald Reagan was the greatest president ever. So on and so on, this blogger hears it. But the fact of the matter is, all bias aside, Ronald Reagan was not elected in 1980 because he was the great mythical figure we know him as now. Ronald Reagan was hated by the left and gave Rebublican Party insiders and elites "agida." And, he wasn't exactly portrayed with glowing colors by the media either. Reagan won in 1980 because the people didn't like Jimmy Carter.

During an era without internet and the 24 hour news cycle, it would take Ronald Reagan longer than it would have today to win over the American people and secure their vote. People remember the landslide win in 1980, but no one remembers how the "Jimmy Carter" effect propelled him into office. Americans were disillusioned with Jimmy Carter. With less than two weeks until the election, Carter still held a slight lead in the polls as many fence sitters wavered and fretted over the idea of electing  a B movie actor with no real academic background to replace him.

Liberals thought there was no way he'd get elected. The Republican Establishment thought the party nominated the wrong guy and that this mistake would put Carter back in for another 4 years. But the American people thought otherwise and it was their vote that eventually counted the most.

Eventually, the people decided that they could not take 4 more years of Carter. When push came to shove, the "unelectable" conservative extremist who acted in a critically mocked movie with a monkey was elected president by a reluctant public which was more interested in freeing itself from the Carter malaise than chasing some hokey dream about a shining city.

When Ronald Reagan said "there you go again" during the final debate in 1980, he didn't convert the naysayers into Reaganites. However, he did give them some level of hope that maybe, just maybe, this crazy guy was at least capable of handling himself in front of a camera without the need for a sweater and a fire. Replacing the baseball player who had every ball go through his legs with someone who would have it hit off his body instead didn't necessarily insure that you'd get the out, but at least he was a better player than the other guy, if at all by not that much in the minds of many.

Jedediah Bila wrote:
His common-sense approach irked many ivory-tower academics. Plenty of GOP establishment big shots feared he would play by his own rules rather than theirs. Stuck-up elitists weren’t often amused by his jokes or the gift he had of looking into a camera and talking straight to the American people. And there was something so real about him -- something relatable -- that distinguished him from many politicians who were trying so hard to create an image of themselves they thought the public would like.
In defiance of conventional wisdom, Reagan didn't stick his finger into the wind and decide what positions to take. He stood firm on a platform of strong national defense and limited government.

Fast forward to today where much of the dialogue is like watching a remake of a 1978 classic "Is he electable?" Only this time, the lead role is played by a woman from Alaska who fired up the Republican base in much the same way that Reagan did in 1976 - some would argue like he did in 1964.

Today, a Fox News poll came out that doesn't bode well for President Obama.
About a third of voters -- 35 percent -- think Obama deserves to be re-elected. A slim 53 percent majority says the country would be better off with someone else.

Half of independents and one in five Democrats think the country would be better off with someone else as president.
The media and the punditry will waste its time, like they did in the late 1970's, wondering if "she's electable." But will you ever hear them ask if the Obama effect could put Sarah Palin into the White House the same way that the Carter effect put Reagan in? If  the 53 percent majority that says the country would be better off with someone else, does it matter who that someone else is?

Half the independents are up for grabs. 53 percent of the country says we'd be better off with someone else. Sarah Palin is in a good position to win the GOP nomination. Polls show her doing well in Iowa, South Carolina and Ohio. Should she get the nomination, those who are stuck between a rock and a hard place are going to have to make a decision. And that decision will have to be for the "someone else."

Informal polling (me talking to friends who talk to friends) always turns up "I like her but I think her negatives are going to hurt her." If all the people who say they like her but think her negatives are going to hurt her, she'd win. Because, other than liberals who will never vote for her, the doubters always base their doubt on their perception of what other people think about her. That perception has been mostly formulated by the mainstream media.

When meteorologists use climate data to predict the actions of pending storm, they compare the scenario to past scenarios for similar storms. Put the blocking high pressure over Greenland, run a cold front through the deep south and have a wave of energy move out of the midwest into the Gulf of Mexico and the ingredients are there, based on history, for a storm to run up the east coast. Will it snow from Richmond to Bangor? The models don't give you a lock on it, but probably it will snow. Yet, there are always those that say, ah it'll never happen. The next day, they find themselves shovelling their driveways.

The weather pattern is almost exact to the tee for Palin as it was for Reagan. We have a Carteresque president. We have a disgruntled public. We have a GOP Establishment looking to cash on this for, well, cash. And then you have everyone wondering, questioning and doubting whether Sarah Palin can win. Okay, guys, talk amongst yourselves. I'm looking at the computer guidance and it shows a storm on the National Mall in January 2013.

The Reagan supporters were staunch and deep, as are the Palin supporters. Reagan supporters gave him the base and the strength from which to run, as do the Palin supporters do for Sarah. But in the end, it was the people who voted for "anybody but Carter" that put Reagan over the top. The same will hold true for Palin who will win the presidency because of the "anybody but Obama" vote.

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