Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

PolitiFact: Chris Christie claims Ronald Reagan won 40 states after trailing Jimmy Carter in polls

The statement

Says Ronald Reagan "was behind in the polls in 1980 going into the debate with Jimmy Carter and then turned around 10 days later and won 40 states."

Chris Christie, in a press conference

The ruling

Mitt Romney may have hit a rough patch on the campaign trail, but New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie recently suggested a winning debate performance could propel the Republican presidential candidate to victory.

Just like the 1980 debate took Ronald Reagan from trailing in the polls to winning 40 states on Election Day, the governor said.

"Ask Ronald Reagan if he were around, you know, who was behind in the polls in 1980 going into the debate with Jimmy Carter and then turned around 10 days later and won 40 states," Christie, a Republican, said at a news conference. "These debates matter. They're very important."

It's true that Reagan won 44 states in the 1980 election, but it's not entirely accurate for Christie to say Reagan "was behind in the polls" going into the debate with Carter.

Leading up to that Oct. 28, 1980, debate — a week before Election Day — some polls showed Carter with a slight advantage over Reagan, but other polls had Reagan ahead of the president. Still, given the margins of error attached to the polls, the race appeared too close to call, according to various news articles.

In a Gallup poll released the day before the debate, Carter was leading Reagan by 3 percentage points, 45 percent to 42 percent. That poll was based on a sample of 1,100 registered voters, including 800 likely voters.

Another poll done for ABC News and released around the same time offered the exact opposite results: Reagan stood at 45 percent and Carter at 42 percent among likely voters.

An Associated Press/NBC News poll around the same time showed Reagan with a greater lead over Carter. Among likely voters, 42 percent supported Reagan and 36 percent backed Carter.

Still, Reagan's debate performance has been considered a deciding factor in his ultimate victory. "It is my contention that there was significant change in presidential preference by the public starting with the Carter/Reagan debate that accelerated through Election Day," Warren J. Mitofsky, a pollster for CBS News, later wrote.

So Christie is correct that Reagan won a landslide and that people credit, in part, his debate performance. But to say Reagan was behind in the polls isn't as clear-cut. We rate the statement Half True.

Bill Wichert, PolitiFact New Jersey This has been edited for print. Read the full version at PolitiFact.com/New Jersey.

PolitiFact: Chris Christie claims Ronald Reagan won 40 states after trailing Jimmy Carter in polls 10/02/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 10:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics

    Elections

    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.