In 1980, Democratic president Jimmy Carter faced an uphill struggle for re-election. Yet, despite an index of inflation and unemployment far higher than Obama’s, he was actually doing slightly better in the polls. In March of that year, Carter led his Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, by around 25 per cent. By May, Gallup gave him a lead of 49 to 41 per cent – higher than Obama’s today. Carter’s advantage evaporated in the months that followed, but he regained ground in October and by the last week he was running even.
None the less, Carter eventually suffered a landslide defeat. The scale of his
humiliation was hidden by the fact that people were unwilling to commit
themselves to the conservative Ronald Reagan until the very last minute. It
was only when they went into the polling booth and weighed up all the hurt
and humiliation of the past four years that they cast their vote against the
president. It looks like Barack Obama will be the Jimmy Carter of 2012.