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Author Topic: Why did Ted Kennedy challenge Carter in 1980?  (Read 5171 times)
Joe Republic
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« on: January 01, 2006, 09:57:10 pm »
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I was wondering about this.  I guess I could go look it up, but I thought this community would have a better explanation.

I could be wrong, but I can't imagine there was a great deal they disagreed on.
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2006, 10:45:31 pm »
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Actually, there was a great deal that they disagreed on.

When Carter was elected in 1976, the Democrats, while delighted to be back in power, were a little wary because Carter was from outside the party's power structure, and they didn't know if they could trust him.

The Democrats fully expected that when they returned to power, they would pick up where they left off in 1968, with large spending increases and new programs to address all sorts of domestic issues.

But the economic and political climate had changed, and especially on a fiscal level, Carter was far more conservative than the Democrats would have liked.  Liberal interest groups were chafing at the restrictions that Carter put on expansion of spending, and his reluctance to create new government programs.

As a result, Carter had terrible relations with congress, despite the fact that both houses were controlled by his party.  In addition, by 1979 Carter was looking very weak and wounded, and many Democrats were very concerned about going into the 1980 elections with Carter as their standard-bearer.

Kennedy disagreed with Carter on a lot of issues, and thought Carter was beatable.  Kennedy had passed on a run for the presidency after his brother Bobby was assassinated in 1968, then came Chappaquiddick in 1969, and 1972 was too soon after that to make a run.  In 1976, Kennedy's marriage was on the rocks, and his wife was drinking heavily, and those problems were not resolved, so he couldn't make a run then.  He thought 1980 was his last chance to go for that Kennedy birthright, and he thought he could elbow Carter out of the way to do it.

In his campaign, he supported wage and price controls, which Carter rejected, to fight inflation.  He also supported gasoline rationing, another thing Carter rejected except in a much greater emergency, as part of his energy policy.  But by then, the country had become more conservative, and wasn't much interested in his policy prescriptions.

In the end, Carter beat Kennedy for the nomination pretty handily, which says a lot about Kennedy's weakness considering how weak Carter was by 1980.
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Jake
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2006, 10:54:18 pm »
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He wanted a chance of a Democratic victory.
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dazzleman
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2006, 10:56:50 pm »
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He wanted a chance of a Democratic victory.

Dude, he wanted a Kennedy victory.  He didn't give a f&#k about the party.
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Joe Republic
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2006, 11:01:52 pm »
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That was a pretty good summary D-man.  Thanks.
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dazzleman
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« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2006, 11:07:11 pm »
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That was a pretty good summary D-man. Thanks.

My pleasure, buddy. 

The funny thing is, most people simply assumed that Kennedy could have the nomination for the asking in 1980.  When the speculation about Kennedy running really got off the ground in the spring and summer of 1979, the thinking was, what was the most graceful way for Carter to step aside and give Kennedy the nomination, since a Kennedy victory was invevitable.

Carter made his feelings known in no uncertain terms in June 1979, when he said that if Kennedy challenged him for the nomination, he would "whip his ass."  On this, if on little else, Carter turned out to be correct.
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Pictor Ignotus
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2006, 03:38:20 pm »
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Also, don't forget, during the primaries, the Iranian hostage thing was a pretty new crisis, and I'd argue the country rallied around the President in this time, hurting Kennedy. But by the time the general rolled around, and the problem hadn't been resolved, voters were weary of the crisis and blamed Carter.
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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2006, 03:35:43 pm »
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He was totally wasted for all of 1980. The hangover from that must have sucked. Tongue
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2006, 04:36:18 pm »
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  Kennady had way too many skelatons in his closet to get the nomanation in 1980 that along with the fact he was drunk when he congragulated Carter on winning the Democratic nomanation in 1980.   
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2006, 05:17:32 pm »
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He did give a very good speech at the convention dispite being completely hammered. He probably challenged because he was the only Kennedy brother who hadn't tried to run up until that point. Remember, all about tradition. He also is the only brother not to have been murdered in some way.
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2006, 08:39:27 pm »
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Why did Senator Ted Kennedy challenge President Jimmy Carger in 1980?

Arrogance, vanity, pride, sense of superiority, inflated ego, his belief he was entitled to the Presidency.  How the mighty have fallen.
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2006, 10:32:58 pm »
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Arrogance, vanity, pride, sense of superiority, inflated ego, his belief he was entitled to the Presidency. How the mighty have fallen.

And those traits are different than any other politician how?
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2006, 11:17:49 pm »
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There was also the sense that Carter was weak and could be taken out.

In December of 1979, Reagan was not the front runner.
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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2006, 03:30:19 pm »
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In December of 1979, Reagan was not the front runner.

Nope!

In fact, a poll in January 1980 showed Carter waaaaaay up on Reagan, by about 30 points.
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2006, 03:32:35 pm »
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In December of 1979, Reagan was not the front runner.

Nope!

In fact, a poll in January 1980 showed Carter waaaaaay up on Reagan, by about 30 points.

Good thing for Reagan that someone got the hostage release delayed until Reagan's inaugration day.
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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2006, 04:25:03 pm »
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He was totally wasted for all of 1980. The hangover from that must have sucked. Tongue

LOL, yeah: 12 years of Reagan-Bush...
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« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2006, 04:35:03 pm »
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He was totally wasted for all of 1980. The hangover from that must have sucked. Tongue

LOL, yeah: 12 years of Reagan-Bush...
lol! thats fantastic! Cheesy Cheesy :DWorst part is I believe that he actually thinks that it was just a hangover. Tongue
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« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2006, 10:52:45 pm »
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In December of 1979, Reagan was not the front runner.

Nope!

In fact, a poll in January 1980 showed Carter waaaaaay up on Reagan, by about 30 points.

I believe Carter was ahead for most of the campaign. That's where "October Surprise" comes from- Reagan's surge ahead a month before the election.
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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2006, 01:48:49 pm »
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In December of 1979, Reagan was not the front runner.

Nope!

In fact, a poll in January 1980 showed Carter waaaaaay up on Reagan, by about 30 points.

I believe Carter was ahead for most of the campaign. That's where "October Surprise" comes from- Reagan's surge ahead a month before the election.

I'm not sure that's true, Tchash.

In January 1980, there were about 10 Republicans running, and the first primary had not taken place.  Carter was also still benefiting from the 'rally around the president' sentiment produced by the hostage crisis, and then the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

During the summer of 1980, Reagan was ahead of Carter strongly, IIRC.  Carter's popularity sunk terribly, and he had a 22% approval rating.  Then after Labor Day, the race tightened up, and remained tight until the last minute, when undecided voters broke strongly against Carter.

The 1980 results were really a vote against Carter rather than a vote for Reagan.  Reagan's great popularity as a president came later.  At that time, many people just wanted to be done with Carter, and decided that Reagan was at least a minimally acceptable alternative.  That's really all he needed to be to beat Carter that year.
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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2006, 02:04:35 pm »
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In December of 1979, Reagan was not the front runner.

Nope!

In fact, a poll in January 1980 showed Carter waaaaaay up on Reagan, by about 30 points.

I believe Carter was ahead for most of the campaign. That's where "October Surprise" comes from- Reagan's surge ahead a month before the election.

I'm not sure that's true, Tchash.

Gallup seems to think that it is.



Carter was up 8 at the dawn of October!
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dazzleman
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« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2006, 02:08:35 pm »
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In December of 1979, Reagan was not the front runner.

Nope!

In fact, a poll in January 1980 showed Carter waaaaaay up on Reagan, by about 30 points.

I believe Carter was ahead for most of the campaign. That's where "October Surprise" comes from- Reagan's surge ahead a month before the election.

I'm not sure that's true, Tchash.

Gallup seems to think that it is.



Carter was up 8 at the dawn of October!

Boss, your chart shows my memory was perfect.  Carter was ahead earlier in the year, Reagan took the lead in the summer, it tightened up after Labor Day, and Reagan broke ahead at the very end.  Did you read my post before you rushed to disagree with me?
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tweed
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« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2006, 02:13:56 pm »
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You weren't exactly correct...

You said it tightened after Labor Day, but the graph seems to think that it was tight ON Labor Day, then Carter built up a small leadd, escalated it to a big lead, and then just fell off a table on the final week or so.

Gallup underestimated Reagan in their final survey.  Did they do this for the whole race?  Who knows, and if they did it lends credence to your memories.  But a race going from tied to down eight in a period of about a month isn't exactly the definition of 'tightening.'

Unless, of course, you meant to say Columbus Day instead of Labor Day.
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Michael Z
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« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2006, 01:40:21 pm »
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In December of 1979, Reagan was not the front runner.

Nope!

In fact, a poll in January 1980 showed Carter waaaaaay up on Reagan, by about 30 points.

I believe Carter was ahead for most of the campaign. That's where "October Surprise" comes from- Reagan's surge ahead a month before the election.

I'm not sure that's true, Tchash.

Gallup seems to think that it is.



Carter was up 8 at the dawn of October!

Boss, your chart shows my memory was perfect. Carter was ahead earlier in the year, Reagan took the lead in the summer, it tightened up after Labor Day, and Reagan broke ahead at the very end. Did you read my post before you rushed to disagree with me?

You actually remember all this stuff? For some reason I always had you down as being slightly younger, like in your late 20s... but it's always good to have someone who experienced all this stuff first-hand.
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« Reply #23 on: January 13, 2006, 07:56:37 pm »
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To add to the ever growing pile of things we can use for jokes about him
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« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2006, 10:12:58 pm »
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You weren't exactly correct...

You said it tightened after Labor Day, but the graph seems to think that it was tight ON Labor Day, then Carter built up a small leadd, escalated it to a big lead, and then just fell off a table on the final week or so.

Gallup underestimated Reagan in their final survey. Did they do this for the whole race? Who knows, and if they did it lends credence to your memories. But a race going from tied to down eight in a period of about a month isn't exactly the definition of 'tightening.'

Unless, of course, you meant to say Columbus Day instead of Labor Day.


I personally remember this campaign.  The polls just don't tell the real story, in my opinion, and that shows why they turned out to be so wrong.

This was a seminal election, unlike any election since.  The level of dissatisfaction with Carter was like nothing we've seen since.  Literally nobody liked him; it was just a matter of whether they could bring themselves to vote for Reagan.

For this reason, Carter was in trouble from the start, since elections involving an incumbent are a referendum on that incumbent.  And even Cater's 'supporters' had no enthusiasm for him; they just hated or feared Reagan more.

At the time, many considered Reagan too old and too conservative, and there was some reluctance to vote for him on the part of some people who were very dissatisfied with Carter.  In this election, a very high percentage of the undecided voters broke for Reagan.

The numbers can tell one thing, but the mood of the country was very different from what was reflected in the numbers.  The reality is that Carter was in deep trouble throughout the campaign.
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