Notes: In some years, a few states had more than one contest (usually a non-binding vote or straw poll and a separate delegate-selection process) which can produce a split decision. Map colors are assigned to the earlier or more competitive result (in 1984, Hart won a primary in Wisconsin but Mondale won the caucus; Jackson was ahead in the first caucuses in Mississippi and Virginia but much of his support was concentrated in a limited number of counties and in later stages Mondale won). Usually, by the time of the convention, many states' delegates have been switched to the obvious front-runner, so maps based on convention votes would appear less competitive. Also, some states allow voting for "uncommitted" delegates which occasionally get more votes than any candidate (but not shown on maps).


In 1984, Democrats lined up to take on Reagan. Former VP Mondale was always the front-runner, with Glenn a strong second and a half-dozen others trailing behind. Glenn at one point was tied with Mondale in the polls, but his campaign went national to the neglect of Iowa’s local politics. In the Iowa contest, Mondale won easily while Glenn and Cranston (and McGovern) were trounced. However, the media paid attention to a new face, Gary Hart, who went from 16% in Iowa to win New Hampshire and seriously challenge Mondale nationwide even as many of the other candidates (Cranston, Hollings, Askew, McGovern) dropped like flies. On Super Tuesday, Glenn's last hope of winning in the more conservative south failed although he reached 20% of the vote, but Hart won enough New England and Western states and Florida to offset Mondale's wins in the south and midwest. A surprise was Jesse Jackson, who won several states and racked up some delegates but was derailed by referring to "Hymietown" (that's a slur on Jews, for those of us who never heard the term before) a comment which doesn't exactly match the ideals of the Rainbow Coalition. Hart and Mondale waged a seesaw battle (some states on the map above had split results, such as Wisconsin where Mondale won the caucus and Hart the primary) but Mondale won key victories in New York and Pennsylvania by stealing Wendy's ad line "where's the beef" to describe Hart's platform (Remember that one? It was the "Whassssup!" of the era)*. Hart won narrowly in Ohio and Indiana, and took California in the last day of primary voting, but could not prevent Mondale from acquiring a majority of the delegates. Mondale always had an advantage in delegate allocation because of rules such as 'superdelegates' set up to favor an establishment front-runner against an upstart (see the 1972 fiasco), although it should be added that the Democratic party's primary and caucus process is often far less 'rigged' to produce a quick victory than that of the Republicans.

Mondale went on to be humiliated on a McGovernesque scale by promising to raise taxes (Really!).

* 2004 update: yes, I know that catchphrase is now long-forgotten as well.

Obscure cultural trivia: The movie version of “The Right Stuff” happened to come out as Glenn was challenging Mondale for the Democratic nomination. Apparently it didn’t help.








Schedule of 1984 primaries from Congressional Quarterly’s Presidential Elections, 1789-1996.

February 20: Iowa
February 28: New Hampshire [Hart’s surprise win]
March 6: Vermont
March 13: Alabama (Democrats), Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, plus caucuses in Nevada, Oklahoma, Washington [Mixed results: Mondale in the South, Hart in New England, Florida, and the West; Glenn eliminated]
March 18: Puerto Rico (Democrats) [Mondale wins]
March 20: Illinois
March 27: Connecticut (Democrats)
April 3: New York (Democrats) [Big win for Mondale over Hart], Wisconsin [primary--this one won by Hart]
April 10: Pennsylvania [Another important Mondale win]
May 1: DC, Tennessee
May 5: Louisiana, Texas (Republicans)
May 8: Maryland, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio [Latter two were narrow Hart wins but not enough to stop Mondale]
May 15: Nebraska, Oregon, Idaho [Hart’s wins in west were nonstop]
June 5: California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota (Democrats), West Virginia [Hart’s win in California was not enough to prevent Mondale going over the top]
June 12: North Dakota


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