James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. (born October 1, 1924) was the 39th President of the United States from 1977 - 1981, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. Prior to becoming president, Carter served two terms in the Georgia State Senate, and was the 76th Governor of Georgia from 1971-1975. During his presidency, he oversaw an historic treaty between Israel and Egypt, negotiated the immediate future of the Panama Canal, dealt with crises in nuclear power and shortages of energy, and issued proclamations condemning the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. His fortunes took a downturn when his failure to bring about a quick end to the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1980 dashed his hopes for a second term. He was defeated by Ronald Reagan.
Carter has made the most of his post-presidency, and many have argued he has accomplished more as a former president than as president. He set up the Carter Center in 1982 as his base for advancing human rights. He has also traveled extensively to conduct peace negotiations, observe elections, and advance disease prevention and eradication in developing nations. Additionally, Carter is a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project.
Carter's term had seen sufficient turmoil that he was already weak entering the election. He faced a challenge within the Democratic Party from Edward Kennedy. While Carter defeated Kennedy and secured the nomination, the fight further damaged his position, which had been eroded by the Iran hostage crisis. He'd also alienated Democrats even more. Consequently, Carter lost by a landslide.
As the polls closed on the East Coast, Reagan's victory was assured. Adding insult to injury for the Democrats, Carter issued his concession speech two hours before the polls had closed on the West Coast, adversely affecting down-ballot candidates in tight races. For example, the Democrats' loss of the state of Jefferson's only seat in the House was at least in part due to Carter's ill-timed concession, a fact that rankled Jefferson's Democratic governor, Bill Williamson, the lieutenant governor, Al Rafferty, and state attorney general Hyman Apfelbaum.