Democratic nominee and Arkansas governor Bill Clinton won the presidential election over incumbent Republican George H. W. Bush and Independent candidate Ross Perot. Though Bush had used the success of the Persian Gulf War as a campaign point, Clinton’s focus on the economy propelled him to the win.
Following the passage of the 1981 Economic Recovery Tax Act, the United States experienced what came to be known as the Reagan Recession—worse than the economic crisis of the Carter years and in fact the worst recession since the Great Depression. Unemployment peaked at nine million and 17,000 businesses failed. The economy began to recover in 1983.
Republican Ronald Reagan defeated incumbent Jimmy Carter for the presidency. Reagan’s campaign was aided by the poor economy and Carter’s failure to successfully put an end to the Iranian hostage crisis.
Democratic Senator Barack Obama of Illinois became the first African American elected to the presidency. He defeated Republican nominee Senator John McCain of Arizona. Obama won 365 electoral votes to McCain’s 173.