The Reagan wave began in Ohio, sweeping on through Michigan, Indiana, Illinois to Kansas, Iowa and South Dakota in the Midwest, and in its wake helping to swamp such Democratic congressional names as Bayh, McGovern, Culver and Brademas.
It wasn't supposed to be that way, if the polls and pundits were to be believed. Preelection canvasses suggested neck-and-neck races between Ronald Reagan and President Carter in the Midwest's big industrial centers.
Good weather and a heavy voter turnout across the region added another dimension to the equation -- presumably a boost to the Democrats. That didn't work either. It was Reagan, Reagan, Reagan.
Washington Post projections indicated Reagan would carry 11 of the region's 12 states, where 145 electoral votes hung in the balance. Only Minnesota was seen as a sure thing for Carter.
The intensity of Reagan's power was illustrated in ABC television studies of selected areas, economic and ethnic groups in Indiana and Ohio. Carter ran behind his 1976 performance in every sector, from blacks and union members to suburban dwellers and blue-collar workers. He outscored Reagan only among blacks, large city residents and blue-collar segments of the two states.
As Carter was having his troubles, so were liberal Democratic legislators who had been targeted by Republican campaign committees as well as the well-heeled New Right and single-issue organizations bent on expelling advocates of progressive social programs and free spenders, as they were labeled.
The only likely survivor of the anti-liberal carnage appeared to be Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, who held a narrow lead in his bid for a fourth term. The more moderate Thomas Eagleton -- not targeted as precisely by the conservatives -- won a narrow victory in Missouri.
The first of the targeted liberals to go down for the count was Birch Bayh, seeking an unprecedented fourth term as an Indiana senator. He was handily dispatched by J. Danforth Quayle, a 33-year-old conservative, two-term congressman from Fort Wayne. It was a bitter, angry campaign, with Bayh slashing at the outsiders and their big money, and with Quayle blaming Bayh for Indiana's high unemployment and Carter economics.
Next to go as the returns poured in was George McGovern, seeking a fourth term as South Dakota's senator. He was defeated by Rep. James Abdnor, who has been in the House eight years. Sen. John C. Culver of Iowa, another liberal Democrat, also appeared headed for defeat.
Another victim of the turn to conservative thinking was the House Majority Whip, John Brademas of South Bend, upset by John P. Hiler, a young businessman who jumped to an early lead in the polls and never relinquished it. b Illinois
Reagan won this critical state with 26 electoral votes. Despite hard campaigning and a shower of federal grants, Carter gained only the reluctant support of Democratic Mayor Jane Byrne, who apparently was more interested in defeating fellow Democrat Sen. Richard M. Daley, a candidate for state's attorney, than in electing a Democratic president.
The Byrne-Daley feud apparently hurt Carter, especially in the crucial battleground of the suburbs. Reagan won the rural downstate counties and the suburbs. Carter carried Chicago.
Independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson, a native son, as is Reagan, won about 9 percent of the vote.
In the race for retiring Sen. Adlai Stevenson's seat, Democrat Alan J. Dixon, a popular secretary of state and 30-year office holder, won handily over Republican Lt. Gov. David O'Neal, who was strongly supported by anti-abortion forces. O'Neal, had accused Dixon of being a tool of the Chicago machine and forcing his employes to make campaign contributions. But the Republican himself was accused of impropriety and had to pay $13,000 for the use of state airplanes in his campaign.
Carter lost Illinois in 1976 to former president Ford, despite the backing of then-mayor Richard J. Daley and his famous machine.
In the contest for Anderson's congressional seat, Republican State Sen. Lynn Martin easily defeated county treasurer Douglas Aurand. Incumbent Rep. Paul Findley (R) was leading in what was thought to be a close race with former state representative David Robinson.
The principal issue in Illinois was the economy, although Carter was hurt by the Soviet grain embargo. Indiana
A Republican sweep of the top three spots on the ballot appeared a certainty -- Reagan for president and the state's 13 electoral votes, Lt. Gov. Robert D. Orr for governor and Rep. J. Danforth (Dan) Quayle to succeed Birch Bayh as U.S. senator.
Network projections indicated easy victories for Reagan and Orr, just as preelection polls forecast, but the surprise was Quayle's apparently easy win over Bayh, who was seeking an unprecedented fourth term. Economic problems, unemployment in the state's industrial centers and Bayh's record of liberalism made him a ready target for Quayle in a year of anti-incumbent fervor and a heavy infusion of New Right money from around the country.
Bayh fought back lustily against Quayle, criticizing his absenteeism during two terms as the congressman from Fort Wayne and his negative votes on issues of importance to Indiana.
Almost as stunning was the defeat of House Majority Whip John Brademas, seeking reelection to a 12th term, by South Bend businessman John P. Hiler, 27, who early on put together a campaign team, a large treasury and a lead in the polls that Brademas never overcame. With about 60 percent of the ballots counted, Brademas trailed by about 10,000 votes. Also considered in jeopardy was Indianapolis Democratic Rep. David W. Evans.
Orr, riding the wave of popularity of the outgoing administration of Gov. Otis Bowen, had 61 percent of the vote with about a fifth of the ballots counted. Iowa
Reagan apparently swept to victory by a comfortable margin in the state where he began his show business career, as an announcer at a Des Moines radio station. With most returns in, Reagan led Carter by 12 percentage points. Iowa also apparently provided another of last night's Republican Senate victories. Rep. Charles E. Grassley (R) beat the incumbent, John C. Culver (D), by a nine-point margin. Of all the liberal Democrats targeted by New Right and business groups, the combative Culver was the feistiest in his response, and in the process he wiped out a big early deficit in the polls. But Grassley, riding Reagan's coattails, caught him in the end.
Iowa's five incumbent congressmen all held on to their jobs. In Grassley's rural- and-small-town 3rd District, Republican Cooper Evans held onto a slim lead over Lynn Cutler, a Democratic county commissioner, through most of the night. Cutler ran a strong race in this Republican district, but the sudden death of her husband last week while it virtually ended her campaigning at the crucial moment in the campaign.
By a 60-to-40 margin, the state gave a resounding no to the inclusion of an equal rights amendment in its constitution -- a major surprise. Kansas
Reagan won this staunch Republican state overwhelmingly with the help of former president Ford's former running mate Sen. Bob Dole. Carter was hurt in Kansas when he embargoed grain sales to the Soviet Union after the invasion of Afghanistan. However, he probably would have lost anyway. Only one Democrat, Lyndon B. Johnson, has carried this conservative state since World War II.
Dole, up for reelection after his futile bid or the Republican presidential nomination, beat his opponent, former state Sen. John Simpson, 2 to 1. Simpson had stressed Dole's close relationship with the oil and gas industry, which contributed 17 percent of his $802,000 campaign chest. Simpson raised only $140,000.
Incumbent Republican Rep. Jim Jeffries, who two years ago ousted Rep. Martha Keys, fended off Keys' ex-husband, Sam, in a close race. Michigan
Reagan led Carter comfortably in this state, considered before the election a classic tossup. Near-final returns put it at 49 percent for Reagan, 43 percent for Carter, and 7 for Anderson.
The state had three tax-cut proposals on the balllot. Proposal D was the brainchild of Robert Tisch, the Howard Jarvis of the Midwest, and would cut property taxes to half of their 1978 level. Proposal A, the liberal alternative, would end the funding of education through the property tax and make up the difference through a 2 percent increase in the state income tax. Proposal C, Gov. William Milliken's answer to Tisch, would cut property taxes slightly and raise the sales tax to compensate. All three apparently lost by wide margins.
The tightest congressional races were in the rural 10th District, where state Sen. Richard Allen, a Milliken ally, was given a good chance of unseating the one-term Democratic incumbent, Don Albosta, and in Detroit's 14th District, where Republican Vic Caputo, a popular local television personality, and Democratic state Rep. Dennis Hertel were locked in a tight race to replace the retiring 19-year Democratic incumbent, Lucien Nedzi. In the early hours this morning, both races were still too close to call. Minnesota
Vice President Mondale's vigorous campaigning in his home state paid off in a substantial Carter victory.However, Carter's margin was expected to be smaller than in 1976 when he won the state with 55 percent of the vote.
Minnesota Independent-Republicans, as they are called here, were hoping to make important gains in the state legislature, but it appeared unlikely that they would capture either house. They gained strength two years ago with the unexpected sweep of both Senate seats and the governorship, following a nasty fight in the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party for former senator Hubert H. Humphrey's seat.
Only two of Minnesota's eight House races were closely contested. Conservative Republican Vin Weber appeared to have the edge over Archie Bauman, former aide of retiring Rep. Richard Nolan (D). Bauman was outspent $150,000 to $350,000. In another conservative-liberal contest, Republican incumbent Arlan Stangeland was winning his race Democrat Gene Wenstrom. Missouri
With most of the vote in, the count stood at 51 percent for Reagan, 44 percent for Carter, and 4 percent for Anderson.
Democratic Sen. Eagleton held a six-point lead with most of the vote in over St. Louis County Executive Gene McNary, apparently winning a third term. In the governor's race, Republican Christopher (Kit) Bond, 41, was favored to win back the office that Democrat Joseph Teasdale, 44, took away from him by less than 1 percent of the vote in a 1976 upset. With most returns in, Bond led by six percentage points.
In House races, all nine incumbents who were running -- seven Democrats and two Republicans -- were favored. In the 8th District, in the middle of the state, the Republicans had a good chance of picking up a new seat. Nine-term incumbent Democrat Richard Ichord is retiring, and two conservative state representatives, Democrat Steve Gardner and Republican Wendell Bailey were in a tight race to succeed him.
A state referendum that would have set tough new standards for nuclear waste disposal suffered an unexpected overwhelming defeat. Nebraska
With all but scattered returns in, Reagan had established a huge lead -- about 2 to 1. Every news organization called Nebraska for Reagan.
The Republicans picked up a House seat in Nebraska, too. Republican Hal Daub beat Democrat Richard M. Fellman by nine points in the race for the 2nd District seat of Democrat John J. Cavanaugh, who got tired of Washington after two terms and is retiring at the age of 35.
In the other Nebraska House races, incumbent Republicans Douglas K. Bereuter in the 1st District and Virginia Smith in the 3rd had safe seats. North Dakota
Although former president Ford won North Dakota in 1976 with only 51.6 percent of the vote, Reagan scored a landslide victory in this conservative farm state. Republican Rep. Mark Andrews won handily against oil broker Kent Johanneson (D) in the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Milton R. Young (R).
Less certain was the contest between Democratic Gov. Arthur Link, seeking a third term, and his Republican challenger, Attorney General Allen Olson who held a narrow lead with almost half of the precincts reporting. The race was characterized by a lack of issues, and each candidate ran on his "nice guy" image.
In the race for the state's only House seat, tax commissioner Byron Dorgan, a Democrat, surged ahead of State Sen. James Smykowski, a conservative Republican. Ohio
The cliffhanger over Ohio's 25 electoral votes never materialized. The weather was clear, the turnout large, but it was a Reagan day all the way.
At Columbus, the capital, officials were forced to add extra voting machines to handle the large turnout in some areas. "There were lines around the block in several counties and we have to move more voting devices into some polling places because of the heavy turnout," said one official.
Sen. John Glenn (D), still popular from his astronaut days, was an easy winner of a second term, running for the first time on his political record. He defeated James E. Betts, a Republican state representative. But Democratic Rep. Thomas (Lud) Ashley was defeated by Ed Weber, a Republican state legislator from Toledo. Republican hopes of picking up the Cleveland seat vacated by the retiring Charles A. Vanik vanished when Democrat Dennis Eckart took the seat.
On a night of surprises, the Democrats came up with one for the GOP in Columbus, where conservative, 11-term House member Samuel L. Devine appeared for a major upset at the hands of liberal Democratic attorney Bob Shamansky. South Dakota
Reagan, as expected, won South Dakota's four electoral votes, but the real news was the apparent crashing defeat of Sen. George McGovern, his party's 1972 presidential standard-bearer, by Rep. James Abdnor, a four-term GOP House member.
McGovern was one of the Senate liberals targeted for defeat by New Right organizations, which contributed heavily to Abdnor's campaign and which stirred intense controversy in the state.
Although McGovern outspent Abdnor and put together an impressive local organization, preelection polls swung back and forth and no clear favorite emerged.
A key theme in the McGovern campaign was his stress on delivery of vital services to farm-oriented South Dakota through his role as second-ranking member of the Argiculture Committee.
In the state's two congressional districts, Democratic incumbent Tom Daschle, a peripatetic, hard-working campaigner, was favored to win a second term, and Republican Clint Roberts, a former state senator, was expected to win election to the seat vacated by Abdnor. Wisconsin
The Carter-Reagan race had been considered by most to be a tossup, but in the end it was Reagan. Sen. Nelson was squared off against Republican Robert W. Kasten Jr., a former two-term congressman. With two thirds of the vote counted, Nelson moved ahead by a fraction of a percentage point but was not doing as well in Milwaukee as he needed to offset a GOP edge in rural areas.
Nelson was confronted with a challenge that was universal in 1980 campaigns -- that he had fallen out of touch with the electorate and that his liberal politics no longer represented mainstream thinking in his state.
After early polls indicated unexpected strength for Kasten, Nelson was goaded into a hyperactive, slashing campaign in which he crisscrossed the state from dawn unitl night and hammered away at Kasten's congressional record of absenteeism and his opposition to programs vital to Wisconsin.
A stonger threat faced 12-term Democratic Rep. Robert W. Kastenmeier, matched for a second time against James A. Wright, a wealthy manufacturer from Baraboo, in the campaign to represent Madison and surrounding area. Wright, with strong out-of-state financial help, attacked Kastenmeier for his liberal politics and economic ideas, but Kastenmeier appeared to be the winner.
The only other menace to the state's nine incumbents involved Democrat Alvin Baldus, challenged by young Steve Gunderson for paying attention to little more than dairy issues -- a paradox in dairy-rich Wisconsin. Early indications were that Gunderson would be the winner.