By: Taniya Kalathara

Election of Reagan: Part 1

  • 1980


  • Jimmy Carter: Democratic
  • Ronald Reagan: Republican
  1. Reagan called for reductions in government spending and taxes, shift in power from the federal government to the states, and advocated "traditional American values"
  • John Anderson: Independent Congressman


  • Carter: 35,483,883 votes and 49 electoral votes
  • Reagan: 43,904,153 votes and 489 electoral votes
  • Republicans gained control of the Senate for first time in 25 years

Election of Reagan: Part 2

  • 1984


  • Ronald Reagan: Republican
  • Walter Mondale: Democratic
  • Reagan was also opposed by VP candidate Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to appear on a major-party presidential ticket, who indeed won

  • Reagan: 54,455,472 votes and 525 electoral votes
  • Mondale: 37,577,352 votes and 13 electoral votes
  • Reagan was re-elected in the November 6 election in an electoral and popular vote landslide

More Information:

  • Foreign policy issues dominated Reagan’s second term, one that saw the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev
  • Gorbachev announced two new Soviet policies:
  1. Glasnost, which aimed to introduce free speech and political liberty to the Soviet Union
  2. Perestroika, which meant that the Soviets would adopt free-market economies similar to those in the West

National Budget

  • Reagan made tax cuts, amounting to 25% across-the-board reductions over a period of 3 years
  • In August 1981, Congress approved a set of tax reforms that lowered individual tax rates, reduced federal estate taxes, and created new tax-free saving plans for small investors
  • The anti-inflationary polices that caused the recession of 1982 had actually been initiated by the Federal Reserve Board in 1979, during Carter's presidency
  • The income gaps widened between the rich and the poor
  • Some economists located the sources of the economic upturn in the massive military expenditures
  • Reagan gave the Pentagon nearly $2 trillion in the 1980s

Cold War

Reagan's Strategy for Dealing with the Soviet Union:

  • By enormously expanding U.S. military capabilities, he could threaten the Soviets with an expensive new round in the arms race
  • In March 1983, Reagan announced his intention to pursue a high-technology missile-defense system called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as Star Wars
  • The plan called for orbiting battle satellites in space that could fire laser beams to vaporize intercontinental missile on liftoff
  • In 1983, a Korean passenger airliner was shot down when it flew into Soviet airspace
  • By the end of 1983, all arms-control negotiations were broken, and the Cold War was intensified

Iran-Contra Imbroglio

  • In November 1986, it was revealed that a year before, American diplomats had secretly arranged arms sales to Iranian diplomats in return for the release of American hostages and had used that money to aid Nicaraguan contra rebels
  • Violated the congressional ban on helping Nicaraguan rebels and Reagan’s personal vow not to negotiate with terrorists
  • Reagan had no knowledge of such events

Economic Legacy

  • Supply-side economics claimed that cutting taxes would actually increase government revenue, but instead, during his eight years in office, Reagan accumulated a $2 trillion debt
  • The idea of “trickle-down economics”, helping the rich who own business would see money trickle down to working classes, seemed to prove false

Economic Legacy:

  • Tax cuts and increased military spending created lost revenue of $200 billion per year
  • National debt tripled from about 1 billion in 1980 to about 3 billion in 1988
  • Deficits did not begin to diminish until Clinton's presidency in mid-1990s