Nation: Carter vs. Reagan: Dead Heat

One of the enduring truisms of American politics has been that an incumbent President wields all but overwhelming political power. This axiom holds that almost any challenge to a President has only the barest chance of succeeding. But this pattern may be changing. In the case of Jimmy Carter, his incumbency—and the fact that he is thus blamed for every national problem—may be his biggest electoral handicap.

Matching Carter against a series of potential political opponents, the Yankelovich survey for TIME shows the President able to achieve only a tie with the leading Republican...

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