How Did Ronald Reagan, Often Mocked by the Washington Press Corps, Easily Win a Second Term?

Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980 with 50.7 percent of the popular vote and he was relentlessly made fun of by the Washington press corp as a dumb movie star who had no business being in the White House.

In 1984, he was re-elected, getting 58.8 percent of the popular vote. He won every state except Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

What made him so popular?

From The Washington Diaries, by Allan Gotlieb, who in 1984 was Canada’s ambassador to the United States:

People we see in Washington dislike Reagan, or profess contempt because he is not an intellectual. They see him as a second-rate monarch, undermining social democracy and leading the country towards isolationism.

But the fact is he has fouled up little. The land is strong and more self-confident. The U.S. domestic scene is at peace, and Americans sense that they stand taller in the world, after Carter, Iran, and Watergate.

He is what the country needs now, a genuine conservative and a self-confident, optimistic man. Americans look at his broad smile, listen to his anecdotes and homilies, and believe that tomorrow the sun will still shine.


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