I disagree strongly with the idea that Reagan could not have won. This is a Romney talking point from the primaries with no merit. Reagan appealed to people as people first. Mostly, Reagan was genuine in what he expressed, and people understood that. Reagan did not come across as a used car salesman, slick and contradicting what he told the last customer.
Granted, Reagan did connect better with people but the nation has changed so much in the past 30 years that I don't know...
The U.S. adds one international migrant (net) every 36 seconds. Immigrants account for one in 8 U.S. residents, the highest level in more than 90 years. In 1970 it was one in 21; in 1980 it was one in 16; and in 1990 it was one in 13. In a decade, it will be one in 7, the highest it has been in our history. And by 2050, one in 5 residents of the U.S. will be foreign-born.
In 1980, the US was a nation of 227 million compared to 315 million today. We had 14.1 million foreign born in 1980 compared to 40 million today. In 1980 the foreign born made up 6.2% of the population compared to 12.9% today.
During the decade ending in 1980 we had 4.5 million immigrants entering the US compared to 13.9 million during the decade ending in 2010, which happened to be the highest number in our nation's history.
In 1980 non-Hispanic whites made up 85.9% of the population compared to 66% today. Blacks were 11.8% of the population compared to 13.1% today. In 1980 other races made up 2.3%. Today Asians alone make up 5% of the population.
In 1980 there were 22.5 million on food stamps, today there are 47 million. In 1980 there were 19.6 million people on Medicaid with a total expenditure of 25.2 billion (state and Federal) compared to 54.8 million people in 2012 with a total expenditure of 456 billion. This doesn't include the CHIPS program. Today there are 70 million people on Medicaid (including CHIPS) and Obamacare will add 18 million more.
Today essentially two-thirds of the federal budget is on automatic pilot and consists of the entitlement programs, other mandatories, and debt servicing. We have culture of dependency.
I don't think Reagan could have won today. We simply are not the same country demographically or culturally.