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Watergate to the Reagan Years
 

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Presidential candidates confronted the ongoing Vietnam War and a poor U.S. economy during the 1972 presidential race. Democratic nominee and South Dakota Senator George McGovern ran a grassroots campaign sparked by the antiwar movement.  His opponent, incumbent president Richard Nixon, portrayed McGovern as a radical. Nixon won re-election, garnering 520 electoral votes to McGovern’s 17, but his popularity was shortlived. Investigations stemming from the Watergate scandal destroyed Nixon’s public support.  On August 9, 1974, with impeachment looming, Nixon became the only U.S. President to resign from office. Vice President Gerald Ford finished Nixon’s term.

Americans were ready for change in 1976.  The voters rejected incumbent President Ford in favor of a relatively unknown Democrat, former governor of Georgia and peanut farmer Jimmy Carter.  President Carter became the scapegoat for a worsening economy and the Iran Hostage Crisis, however, paving the way for a former California governor, charismatic and conservative Ronald Reagan. Reagan won the Republican Party nomination and subsequently the 1980 election, becoming the only California governor elected as U.S. President to date.

Reagan remained highly popular throughout his first term, in part due to an U.S. economic recovery from recession. He easily captured his party's nomination in 1984. Democratic National Convention delegates, meeting in San Francisco, chose former Vice President Walter Mondale as the their presidential candidate. Reagan soundly defeated Mondale, and was elected by a landslide to a second term.


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Electoral College ballots, 1980

Electoral College ballots, 1980

Electoral College ballots, 1980

Governor’s Office, Legislative Secretary, Electoral College Files, Accession 2003-237, California State Archives


Pamphlet, Ronald Reagan, Governor of the State of California, circa 1970

Pamphlet, Ronald Reagan, Governor of the State of California, circa 1970

Brad Clark Collection, Accession 2006-103, California State Archives


Pamphlet, The Reason for Reagan

Pamphlet, The Reason for Reagan

Rose Ann Stark Collection, Accession 2008-036, California State Archives


Campaign button, McGovern, 1972

Campaign button, Nixon Now More than Ever, circa 1972

Campaign button, Resist Reagan, undated

Campaign button, Keep a Good Guy President, 1976

Campaign button, McGovern, 1972
Campaign button, Nixon Now More than Ever, circa 1972
Campaign button, Resist Reagan, undated
Campaign button, Keep a Good Guy President, 1976

General Ephemera Collection, California State Archives


Campaign button, Mondale-Ferraro, 1984

Campaign button, Mondale-Ferraro, 1984

Frank Cullen, Sr., Collection, Accession 97-05-07, California State Archives


Bumper sticker, Carter ’76, 1976

Bumper sticker, Have a Nice McGovern, 1972

 Bumper sticker, Nixon-Agnew, circa 1972

Bumper sticker, Carter ’76, 1976
Bumper sticker, Have a Nice McGovern, 1972
Bumper sticker, Nixon-Agnew, circa 1972

Brad Clark Collection, Accession 2006-103, California State Archives


Bumper sticker, Republican National Convention, 1984

Bumper sticker, Republican National Convention, 1984

Bill Mashburn Collection, Accession 2000-03-06, California State Archives


Label, Watergate Scotch, 1973

Label, Watergate Scotch, 1973

Bill Mashburn Collection, Accession 2000-03-06, California State Archives


Pamphlet, McGovern, 1972

Pamphlet, McGovern, 1972

Bill Mashburn Collection, Accession 2000-03-06, California State Archives


 Flyer, Governor Brown Hosts Jimmy Carter, 1976

Flyer, Governor Brown Hosts Jimmy Carter, 1976

Brad Clark Collection, Accession 2006-103, California State Archives


Badge with ribbon, Democratic National Convention, 1984

Badge with ribbon, Democratic National Convention, 1984

Frank Cullen, Sr., Collection, Accession 96-09-15, California State Archives



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