Presidential Elections 5B   1976-2012 
Party Control Flip-Flops But Some Progress Made

Other Elections  1798-1824     1828-1852     1856-1892     1896-1928     1932-1972 

Return to Political Eras Part 2  View 20th Century Decades Ranked by Problems from textbooksfree.org

Presidential Elections Republicans Democrats

"And Now the Rest of the Story

Election of 1976 Ford who was not able to secure the nomination over R. Reagan until the Party Convention lost to relatively unknown former Georgia Governor J. Carter. Carter's narrow victory made him the first president elected from the Deep South since Zachary Taylor in 1848.

Jimmy Carter's 1978 Camp David Accords were the high point of recent Middle East peace efforts. Carter inherited  stagflation. The inflation part was solved with the pain of two recessions orchestrated by his FED Chairperson Paul Volker. Economic growth had to wait until after Ronald Regan tax cuts/deficits.

Election of 1980 saw Carter attacked Reagan as a dangerous right-wing radical while Reagan won easily as he pledged to uplift the nation's pessimistic mood. Congressional elections also went Republicans for the first time in 28 years. This began the Reagan Revolution which signified a conservative national political realignment. Election 1984 went Republican as the economic stagflation of low growth with high inflation was over. Reagan joined Nixon (1972) as the only candidate to carry 49 of the 50 states.

Ronald Reagan cut taxes, increased defense spending, ignored federal deficits which today look insignificant because of nominal economic growth. His Supply Side Economics sought economic growth through more efficient production caused by less regulation and low taxes rather than government supported demand. His low taxes and large military spending was Keynesian demand supported growth that soon lowered the relative size of the annual federal deficit and accumulated debt. The later had stayed below 40% of GDP until 1) New Deal and 2) WW2 spending caused it to peak at 120% of GDP. The Penn Square 1982 Bank bailout began a new chapter in the long history of government helping business.

Election of 1988 saw a good economy, a stable international stage, and Reagan's popularity foster the third consecutive presidential victory for the Republican Party. It was the first time that a party had won more than two consecutive presidential elections since the Democrats won five straight elections from 1932-1938.

George H. W. Bush popularity peaked early because his 1990 Coalition of the First Gulf War repelled Iraq's Kuwait invasion. Not always conservative, he signed the Immigration Act of 1990 that led to a 40 percent increase in legal immigration and his temporary ban on certain important semiautomatic rifles cost him a NRA endorsement.

Election 1992 went to Clinton as 1) Bush broke his no new taxes pledge, 2) the economy was in recession 3) Bush's perceived foreign policy strength was less important with the fall of the Soviet Union and Middle East stability after the Gulf War victory. Economic conservative Ross Perrot got 19% of the vote helping Democrat Clinton.
Election of 1996 A
strong economy caused a small 49.0% turnout which was lowest since 1924. Clinton beat Republican Bob Dole with help from Reform Party candidate businessman Ross Perot.

Bill Clinton was another contentious president who survived the Lewinsky scandal as twenty-five years of increased education had cultivated a mare tolerant nation. This allowed him to appoint more women and minority federal court judges than white male judges and also to have a very diverse cabinet. The longest economic expansion in American history allowed for increase educational opportunities, lower crime and increased homeownership. The little noticed 1999 Gramm, Leach, Bliley Act initiated by Republicans and signed Democrat  Clinton continued Republican liberalized of financial regulation which added to the many causes of The Great Recession.

Election of 2000 was one of the most contentious in history as it marked the fourth time the winner failed to win a plurality. See 1824, 1876, and 1888). A Florida recount required Supreme Court intervention which followed party lines. The Green Party adversely affected Democratic Al Gore.
Election of 2004 was a G.W. victory over John Kerry
Bush's popular vote victory was the smallest ever for a reelected incumbent president. Only three states changing side.

George W. Bush reacted to September 9/11 attacks with a War on Terror, a War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. His major tool was the USA PATRIOT Act which established Department of Homeland Security. He also implemented 1) tax cuts 2) No Child Left Behind 3) Medicare Part D but vetoed State Children's Health Insurance Program legislation 4) government activities to and 5) he promoted the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban and Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Election of 2008 saw leading Democrat Hillary Clinton lose when the campaign switched focus from The War On Terror to economic concerns. This was the first election in which 1) neither major candidate was born in the contiguous U.S, (Obama/ Hawaii and McCain/Panama military base) 2) a woman presidential candidate ran in every primary/caucus and 3) Sarah Palin was the first female Republican VP candidate. Geraldine Ferraro was first major party's presidential candidate. Election of 2012 saw Mormon Mitt Romney lose by four points.

Barack Obama's 2010 Affordable Care Act finally fulfilled Democratic efforts for a national health insurance program that had begun with Harry Truman. Major federal health care involvement had began during WW 2 when employer provided health insurance was exempted from federal income tax. His to-date successfully completion of governmental attempts to negate effects of The Great Recession will be balanced against possible successes of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.