The 1982 U.S. Presidential Election was a major victory for Republicans as President Ronald Reagan was re-elected in a landslide over Democrat Senator Gary Hart of Colorado.

Republican Nomination

President Reagan was unopposed for renomination and he and Vice President Phil Crane were nominated unanimously at the Republican National Convention.

Democratic Nomination

Democratic candidates

  • Joseph R. Biden, Jr., U.S. senator from Delaware
  • Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr., Governor of California
  • Alan M. Cranston, U.S senator from California
  • John H. Glenn, Jr., U.S. senator from Ohio
  • Gary W. Hart, U.S. senator and 1978 vice-presidential nominee from Colorado
  • Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings, U.S. senator from South Carolina
  • George S. McGovern, former U.S. senator from South Dakota

Gary Hart was the front-runner from the beginning, He easily won the Iowa caucus with 39% to McGovern's 18% and Brown's 17%. In New Hampshire, John Glenn staged a remarkable upset over Hart with a 34% to 33% victory. By Super Tuesday Hart, Brown, and Glenn were the only candidates left standing, Hart made a clean sweep winning most of the primaries, Brown won his home state of California and a few states in the Northeast and New England.

Hart was assured of nomination with over 2000 pledged delegates. Hart chose New Governor Hugh Carey as his running mate, and the Hart/Carey ticket prepared to battle the Republicans in the fall.

General Election

Reagan enjoyed a large lead throughout the campaign, although Hart tried to portray himself as a moderate but it he couldn't overcome Reagan's commanding lead. Reagan stole the show in the second presidential debate, when he said in response to a question about his age (Reagan at 71 was the oldest man ever to run for president) "I want you to know that also, I will not make age an issue of this campaign, I am not going to exploit for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience."

Hart was seen as a feather-weight on national security and lacked experience, while Reagan was credited with the economic boom which the country was experiencing. Reagan was also seen as being tough on communism and the Soviet Union. In the end, Reagan won in a landslide, sweeping 49 states (Hart won Colorado and the District of Columbia), and winning 59% of the popular vote and 527 electoral votes.

Many pointed to the "Reagan Democrats" as the reason for Reagan's overwhelming victory. These voters were largely southern whites and northern blue collar workers who voted for Reagan because they credited him with the economic boom and supported his aggressive foreign policy.

Republicans also maintained their majorities in both the House (245-190) and the Senate (56-44). John Rhodes was re-elected as Speaker, and Howard Baker won re-election as Senate Majority Leader.

Candidate Party Popular Vote PV% Electoral vote Running Mate
Ronald Wilson Reagan Republican 55,045,236 58.9% 527 Phillip Miller Crane
Gary Warren Hart Democrat 37,505,591 40.2% 11 Hugh Leo Carey
Other - 801,345 0.9% 0 -
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