While Carter was able to win Rhode Island by more than ten percentage points, some of his votes were taken away by the strong third party candidacy of John Anderson, a liberal Republican Congressman who ran in 1980 as an independent after failing to win the Republican Party's own presidential nomination. Anderson proved very popular with liberal and moderate voters in New England who viewed Reagan as too far to the right and with normally leaning Democratic voters who were dissatisfied with the policies of the Carter Administration. New England overall would prove to be Anderson's strongest region in the nation, with all six New England states giving double-digit percentages to Anderson. In fact, Rhode Island would ultimately prove to be John Anderson’s third strongest state in the nation after neighboring Massachusetts and Vermont, his 14.38% of the vote in the state more than double the 6.61% he got nationwide.
Nationally, Reagan won the election with 489 electoral votes and 50.75% of the popular vote.
^This figure is calculated by dividing the total number of votes cast in 1980 (432,686) by an estimate of the number of registered voters in Rhode Island in 1980 (547,472). See "General Election November 2, 1980". Rhode Island Board of Elections. Retrieved February 6, 2018.