New Book by Professor Busch Examines 1980 Election Impact

Andrew E. Busch, professor of government at CMC, is the author of a new book, Reagan’s Victory: The Presidential Election of 1980 and the Rise of the Right, the first of the American Presidential Elections series of the University Press of Kansas.

The book analyzes the 1980 election as a historical, rather than solely contemporary, event. Beginning with President Carter’s “Crisis of Confidence” speech of July 15, 1979, Busch places the election within historical context by analyzing the nation’s economic woes and the political ramifications of the Iran hostage crisis. The book also describes the field of candidates in both major political parties, the eventual independent candidacy of John Anderson, and tracks the campaigns from start to finish, including the election’s turning points.

Reagan’s Victory goes on to recount the impact of the growing conservative movement, the new Sun Belt coalition, and the influence of religious conservatives. An analysis by Busch of the results of the 1980 election, which included a larger GOP caucus in the House, more GOP governorships, a senate majority and the presidency, also is made. Finally, Busch writes about Reagan’s administration as a turning point in American politics, realigning party affiliations throughout the country, and giving conservatives their first victory in the fight against Big Government.

Busch says the book’s narrative goal was a clear explanation of the 1980 election’s policy implications, without sounding too “social sciency.” Profiling this particular election was personally meaningful to Busch, who followed the race closely as a teenager. He says the implications of the race have been huge. “In 1980, people were asking whether economic prosperity and even freedom in the world would survive.”

At one point during his research, Busch moved his young family to Ohio for a summer, where he could participate in the highly selective scholar program at Bowling Green State University’s Social Philosophy and Policy Center. His work at CMC also proved advantageous in the course of his writing, he says, with funding assistance from The Family of Benjamin Z. Gould Center for Humanistic Studies, and interview access through Professor Emeritus Alfred Balitzer, an insider during the Reagan Administration.

Busch says his studies also unearthed a few misconceptions, including the idea that the Nashua, N.H., debate was a turning point in the GOP primary contest when President Reagan declared, “I’m paying for this microphone.” In fact, says Busch, it was Reagan’s strong performance in the first New Hampshire debate, in Manchester, that marked the turning point.

Busch is the author or coauthor of several other books, including Ronald Reagan and the Politics of Freedom, Horses in Midstream: U.S. Midterm Elections and Their Consequences, 1894-1998, The Perfect Tie: The True Story of the 2000 Presidential Election, and Red over Blue: The 2004 Elections and American Politics.