Jimmy Carter Gets History Very, Very Wrong
During an appearance on Hardball this evening, while discussing with Chris Matthews the third-party/Palin scenario I wrote about this afternoon, former President Carter stated that the main reason Ronald Reagan beat him in 1980 is because of the presence of a strong third-party candidate on the ballot:
While Carter is likely right that Ted Kennedy’s primary challenged weakened him among Democrats, his assertion that John Anderson’s quixotic third-party candidacy had anything to do with Reagan’s victory simply isn’t supported by the numbers:
- Ronald Reagan 43,930,230 Popular Votes, 489 Electoral Votes
- Jimmy Carter 35,480,115 Popular Votes, 49 Electoral Votes
- John Anderson 5, 719,850 Popular Votes, 0 Electoral Votes
The popular vote difference between Reagan and Carter was 8,450,115 votes. Even if every single Anderson voter had voted for Carter instead (which is not an entirely valid assumption considering that Anderson was a Republican prior to launching his independent bid), Carter still would’ve lost the election. Moreover, those 5 million votes would not have been enough to give Carter victory in enough states to overcome an overwhelming Electoral College landslide.
So no Mr. President, you didn’t lose because of a third-party candidate. You lost because you had a fairly crappy Presidency, and you ran a pretty bad re-election campaign. Too bad you can’t admit it to yourself.