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. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut

    Blogs

    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview

    Hurricanes

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) takes the field to start the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest

    Health

    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]