Carter – 50–60%
Carter – <50%
Reagan – <50%
Reagan – 50–60%
|Elections in Massachusetts|
The 1980 United States presidential election in Massachusetts took place on November 4, 1980, as part of the 1980 United States presidential election, which was held throughout all fifty states and D.C. Voters chose 14 representatives, or electors to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.
Massachusetts was very narrowly carried by the Republican nominee, former Governor Ronald Reagan of California, over incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter of Georgia and Independent candidate Congressman John B. Anderson of Illinois.
On election day, Reagan won a plurality of 41.90 percent of the vote in the state to Carter’s 41.75 percent, with Anderson in third at 15.15 percent, giving Reagan a razor-thin margin of 0.1517 percent. This constitutes the fifteenth- smallest percentage margin in any statewide presidential election since the Civil War, and the smallest since Kennedy won Hawaii by 115 votes in that state’s inaugural presidential election two decades previously. The only smaller percentage margins since have been Florida (537 votes or 0.009 percent) and New Mexico (361 votes or 0.061 percent) in the controversial 2000 election, and Missouri in 2008, which McCain won by 3,903 votes or 0.1343 percent.
With President Carter a greatly weakened incumbent by 1980, Reagan won a comfortable election victory nationwide.
However, Massachusetts had been a Democratic-leaning state since 1928, and a Democratic stronghold since 1960. In 1972, Massachusetts was the only state in the nation to vote for Democrat George McGovern over Republican Richard Nixon in his 49-state landslide. Thus Reagan’s victory made 1980 the first time a Republican had won Massachusetts’ electoral votes since the landslide re-election of Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.
A major contributing factor to Reagan’s win in Massachusetts was the strong third party candidacy of John Anderson, a liberal Republican Congressman who ran in 1980 as an independent after failing to win the Republican Party’s own presidential nomination. Anderson proved very popular with liberal and moderate voters in New England who normally leaned Democratic but were dissatisfied with the policies of the Carter Administration and viewed Reagan as too far to the right. In 1976, Carter had won Massachusetts with 56% of the vote, however in 1980 he bled a substantial amount of this support to Anderson, allowing Reagan to eke out a narrow win with only 41.90% of the vote.
Massachusetts would ultimately prove to be John Anderson’s strongest state in the nation, his 15.15% of the vote in the state more than double the 6.61% he got nationwide .
While Reagan nationally won a convincing victory in the electoral college, Massachusetts would be his narrowest win, with the state being about ten percent more Democratic than the national average.  As of the 2016 presidential election [update], this is the last election in which Massachusetts did not vote the same as neighboring Rhode Island.
|United States presidential election in Massachusetts, 1980 |
|Independent||John B. Anderson||382,539||15.15%||0|
|Socialist Workers||Clifton DeBerry||3,735||0.15%||0|
|Citizens (Write-in)||Barry Commoner (Write-in)||2,056||0.08%||0|
|Voter Turnout (Voting age/Registered)||59%/80%|
- "1980 Presidential Election Statistics". Dave Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved 2018-03-05.
- Counting the Votes; Massachusetts
- "1980 Presidential General Election Results - Massachusetts". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved 2013-02-07.