This election was mainly important because it made Jimmy Carter the president. His actions are important largely because they helped to bring about a movement towards conservatism in the American political system.
Carter's actions were seen by many Americans as weak and timid. He did things like giving the Panama Canal to Panama. He did not take forceful and effective action to end the Iran hostage crisis. He asked Americans to sacrifice rather than asserting that better times were on the way. These perceived weaknesses helped to push many Americans to vote for Ronald Reagan in 1980, bringing on the "Reagan Revolution."