Jimmy Carter: Reagan only won in 1980 because of the third-party candidate

posted at 8:02 pm on October 25, 2010 by Allahpundit

He’s making a two-step argument here, I think, part of it based on pure conjecture. Step one: If not for Teddy Kennedy’s bitter primary challenge (which of course wasn’t a third-party candidacy), the Democratic Party would have been united for the general election. Instead, untold numbers stayed home, crippling Carter. Step two: If not for John Anderson running as an independent, Carter would have cleaned up among the Anderson base and swept to victory. There’s no way to flatly disprove him on step one since we can’t know how many Teddy fans boycotted the general, but on step two, have a look-see at this recap of the 1980 election. Reagan crushed Carter in the electoral college, 489/49; even if you cede every last Anderson vote to Carter, Reagan still would have won a clear majority of the popular vote with a margin close to three million. Among the individual states, a quickie glance at the numbers reveals that, in states taken by Reagan, Anderson won enough votes to have possibly influenced the outcome in Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wisconsin. That is to say, if all of Anderson’s voters in those states had broken for Carter, Carter would have won the states. (Anderson was, in fact, a liberal Republican who’d competed in the GOP primary, so no doubt plenty of his supporters would have broken for Reagan over Carter if forced to choose. But let’s keep this hypothetical.) It looks to me like all of those states combined would have given Carter another 170 or so electoral votes — meaning Reagan still would have crushed him by 100 EVs and been elected president comfortably. In which case … what is this guy talking about?

One thing he is right about, though: Why, per today’s New York magazine extravaganza on Palin’s path to the White House, would Mike Bloomberg ever consider running for president? He’d spend a billion dollars or more and would need a clear majority of 270 electoral votes to win, an utter impossibility with the left- and right-wing bases energized for Obama and Sarahcuda. If no candidate won 270 outright, the House of Representatives — which will almost certainly be controlled by the GOP, wink — would decide things, meaning Palin would win. Why on earth would a Democrat in independent’s clothing like Bloomy want to spend a 10-digit sum from his personal fortune to elect the major party candidate with whom he has the least in common politically? Does not compute. Click the image to watch.

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