Election of Reagan

  • November 4, 1980
  • November 6, 1984



  • Republican: Ronald Reagan (winner)
  • Democrat: Jimmy Carter


  • Republican: Ronald Reagan (winner)
  • Democrat: Walter Mondale


  • Easily won both elections
  • 1980 election had electoral and popular vote
  • 1980 carried 44 of the states
  • 1984 election had electoral and popular vote
  • 1984 carried 49 of the states

Issues/Concerns Over National Budget

  • 1980 deficit reached nearly $60 million
  • Economy was in the deepest depression since the 1930s
  • "Supply-slide economics": an economic theory of Reagan's that emphasized on cutting taxes & government spending
  • People blamed Reagan for: unemployment and businesses & banks failing
  • "Reagan Recession" of 1982
  • 1983 healthy economic recovery
  • Income gaps widened between social classes
  • "Yuppies": young, urban professionals with money
  • Poor got poorer
  • Rich got richer
  • Middle class stagnated

Reagan and the Cold War

  • Reagan wanted attention of Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Reagan announced his plan of Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) which was high-technology missile defense system
  • 2 new policies announced-
  • Glasnost: aimed to ventilate the secretive, repressive stuffiness of Soviet society by freedom of speech and political liberty
  • Perestroika: intended to revive the Soviet economy by adopting free-market practices of the capitalist West
  • Both of these policies required the Soviet union to shrink the size of its military and focus on the economy
  • Gorbachev met with Reagan 4 times in summit meetings
  • First meeting: November 1985
  • Second meeting: October 1986
  • Third meeting: December 1987
  • Fourth meeting: May 1988
  • Reagan and Gorbachev became friends concluding the Cold War

Iran-Contra Imbroglio

  • 2 foreign policy problems
  • Captivity of American hostages by Muslims in Lebanon
  • Growing power of the left-wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua
  • Asked Congress to provide military aid to rebels fighting against Sandinista regime
  • Congress refused the aid
  • Money for the payment of arms was diverted to the contras
  • This violated a congressional ban on military aid to the Nicaraguan rebels and went against Reagan's vow no to negotiate with terrorists
  • November 1986: news of the secret dealings broke out
  • The Iran-Contra affair brought criminal charges against several individuals & casted a dark shadow over Reagan
  • Public viewed Reagan differently

Reagan's Economic Legacy

  • Took office vowing to: roll back gov. regulations, lower taxes, & balance the budget
  • 1981 & 1986 pushed major tax reform bills through Congress
  • A balanced budget was out of reach
  • Combination of tax reduction & increase in military spending created great deficits
  • Added to the national debt
  • 1986 deficits got Congress to pass a legislation mandating a balanced budget by 1991
  • Failed & national debt continued to grow
  • Deficits represented an economic failure, but political triumph
  • Achieved Reagan's highest political objective: the containment of the welfare state