The United States presidential election of 1980 was the 49th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 4, 1980. The election took place among the backdrop of the Depression of 1973 that had ruined the promises of incumbent President and Democrat George Wallace to bring about a new era of prosperity. The Democratic nomination went to the well-known governor of the most populous state, California's Jerry Brown, who had been reelected governor in a landslide in 1978. He represented a new, progressive generation of Americans. Brown fought the Conservative wing for control of the Democratic Party, and with the tide of civil rights and a more liberal society reaching an all-time high in the late 1970s, he was on the winning side of the primaries. The Republicans nominated George Bush, who represented a more moderate brand of Republican economics that had a greater chance in breaking the Democratic coalition in this respect.

Despite Democratic incumbency, Brown continued to stress that a liberal economic philosophy was preferable to the free-market capitalism of the Byrd, Goldwater, and McCarthy administrations under which the roots of the economic problems took form.

Brown repeatedly blamed these failed policies for the Depression and worsening economy. With unemployment above 20% in 1980 alone, Bush was very vauge about specific policies that could reduce unemployment and simulate growth, while every week, Brown would churn out a sweeping policy change. Brown demonstrated more charisma then Bush, more oratory eloquence, and represented an altercation to American political culture not really seen in four decades.

Brown won by a landslide in both the electoral and popular vote, receiving the highest percentage of the popular vote for a Democratic nominee. The election marked the effective end of the Fifth Party System, dominated by conservative Republicans and Democrats alike. Subsequent landslides in the 1982 mid-term elections and following presidential election two and four years later respectively, signified the commencement of the Sixth Party System, which would be dominated by the economically-progressive New America Coalition. 

Nominee Jerry Brown George Bush
George H. W. Bush official portrait
Party Democratic Republican
Home State California Texas
Positions Governor of California Congressman, Ambassador to the UN, CIA Director
Running Mate Walter Mondale Howard Baker
Percentage 57% 40%
Prior Candidate George Wallace Ronald Reagan

Last Election: 1976

Next Election: 1984

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