United States presidential election, 1976

United States presidential election, 1976

← 1972November 2, 19761980 →

All 538 electoral votes of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
Turnout53.5%[1] Decrease 1.7 pp

 Carter cropped.jpgGerald Ford, official Presidential photo.jpg
NomineeJimmy CarterGerald Ford
PartyDemocraticRepublican
Home stateGeorgiaMichigan
Running mateWalter MondaleBob Dole
Electoral vote297240[2]
States carried23 + DC27
Popular vote40,831,88139,148,634
Percentage50.1%48.0%

United States presidential election in California, 1976United States presidential election in Oregon, 1976United States presidential election in Washington (state), 1976United States presidential election in Idaho, 1976United States presidential election in Nevada, 1976United States presidential election in Utah, 1976United States presidential election in Arizona, 1976United States presidential election in Montana, 1976United States presidential election in Wyoming, 1976United States presidential election in Colorado, 1976United States presidential election in New Mexico, 1976United States presidential election in North Dakota, 1976United States presidential election in South Dakota, 1976United States presidential election in Nebraska, 1976United States presidential election in Kansas, 1976United States presidential election in Oklahoma, 1976United States presidential election in Texas, 1976United States presidential election in Minnesota, 1976United States presidential election in Iowa, 1976United States presidential election in Missouri, 1976United States presidential election in Arkansas, 1976United States presidential election in Louisiana, 1976United States presidential election in Wisconsin, 1976United States presidential election in Illinois, 1976United States presidential election in Michigan, 1976United States presidential election in Indiana, 1976United States presidential election in Ohio, 1976United States presidential election in Kentucky, 1976United States presidential election in Tennessee, 1976United States presidential election in Mississippi, 1976United States presidential election in Alabama, 1976United States presidential election in Georgia, 1976United States presidential election in Florida, 1976United States presidential election in South Carolina, 1976United States presidential election in North Carolina, 1976United States presidential election in Virginia, 1976United States presidential election in West Virginia, 1976United States presidential election in the District of Columbia, 1976United States presidential election in Maryland, 1976United States presidential election in Delaware, 1976United States presidential election in Pennsylvania, 1976United States presidential election in New Jersey, 1976United States presidential election in New York, 1976United States presidential election in Connecticut, 1976United States presidential election in Rhode Island, 1976United States presidential election in Vermont, 1976United States presidential election in New Hampshire, 1976United States presidential election in Maine, 1976United States presidential election in Massachusetts, 1976United States presidential election in Hawaii, 1976United States presidential election in Alaska, 1976United States presidential election in the District of Columbia, 1976United States presidential election in Maryland, 1976United States presidential election in Delaware, 1976United States presidential election in New Jersey, 1976United States presidential election in Connecticut, 1976United States presidential election in Rhode Island, 1976United States presidential election in Massachusetts, 1976United States presidential election in Vermont, 1976United States presidential election in New Hampshire, 1976ElectoralCollege1976.svg
About this image
Presidential election results map. Blue denotes states won by Carter/Mondale, red denotes those won by Ford/Dole, pink is the electoral vote for Ronald Reagan by a Washington faithless elector. Numbers indicate the number of electoral votes allotted to each state.

President before election

Gerald Ford
Republican

Elected President

Jimmy Carter
Democratic

The United States presidential election of 1976 was the 48th quadrennial presidential election, held on Tuesday, November 2, 1976. Democrat Jimmy Carter of Georgia defeated incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford from Michigan. Carter's win represented the lone Democratic victory in a presidential election held between 1968 and 1992.

President Richard Nixon had resigned in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, but before doing so, he appointed Ford as Vice President via the 25th Amendment. Ford was thus the only sitting President who had never been elected to national office. He faced a strong challenge from conservative former Governor Ronald Reagan of California in the 1976 Republican primaries, but Ford narrowly prevailed at the 1976 Republican National Convention. Carter was little-known at the start of the 1976 Democratic primaries, but the former Governor of Georgia emerged as the front-runner after his victories in the first set of primaries. Campaigning as a political moderate and Washington outsider, Carter defeated opponents such as Jerry Brown and Mo Udall to clinch the Democratic nomination.

Ford pursued a "Rose Garden strategy" in which he sought to portray himself as an experienced leader focused on fulfilling his role as chief executive. Carter emphasized his status as a reformer who was "untainted" by Washington. Saddled with a poor economy, the fall of South Vietnam, and his unpopular pardon of Nixon, Ford trailed by a wide margin in polls taken after Carter's formal nomination in July 1976. Ford's polling rebounded after a strong performance in the first presidential debate, and the race was close on election day.

Carter won a majority of the popular and electoral vote. He carried most states in the South and the Northeast, while Ford dominated the Western states. Carter remains the only Democratic candidate since the 1964 presidential election to win a majority of the Southern states. Both of the major party vice presidential nominees, Walter Mondale in 1984 and Bob Dole in 1996, would later win their respective party's presidential nominations, but lose in the general election.

Nominations

Democratic Party

Democratic candidates

Democratic Party Ticket, 1976
Jimmy Carter Walter Mondale
for President for Vice President
Carter cropped.jpg
U.S Vice-President Walter Mondale.jpg
76th
Governor of Georgia
(1971–1975)
U.S. Senator
from Minnesota
(1964–1976)
Campaign
Jimmycarter1976.gif

The surprise winner of the 1976 Democratic presidential nomination was Jimmy Carter, a former state senator and governor of Georgia. When the primaries began, Carter was little-known at the national level, and many political pundits regarded a number of better-known candidates, such as Senator Henry M. Jackson from Washington, Representative Morris Udall from Arizona, Governor George Wallace of Alabama, and California Governor Jerry Brown, as the favorites for the nomination. However, in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Carter realized that his status as a Washington outsider, political centrist, and moderate reformer could give him an advantage over his better-known establishment rivals. Carter also took advantage of the record number of state primaries and caucuses in 1976 to eliminate his better-known rivals one-by-one.

Senator Jackson made a fateful decision not to compete in the early Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, which Jimmy Carter won after liberals split their votes among four other candidates. Though Jackson went on to win the Massachusetts and New York primaries, he was forced to quit the race on May 1 after losing the critical Pennsylvania primary to Carter by twelve percentage points. Carter then defeated Governor Wallace, his main conservative challenger, by a wide margin in the North Carolina primary, thus forcing Wallace to end his campaign. Representative Udall, a liberal, then became Carter's main challenger. He finished second to Carter in the New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New York, Michigan, South Dakota, and Ohio primaries, and won the caucuses in his home state of Arizona, while running even with Carter in the New Mexico caucuses. However, the fact that Udall finished second to Carter in most of these races meant that Carter steadily accumulated more delegates for the nomination than he did.

As Carter closed in on the nomination, an “ABC” (Anybody But Carter) movement started among Northern and Western liberal Democrats who worried that Carter’s Southern upbringing would make him too conservative for the Democratic Party. The leaders of the “ABC” movement – Idaho Senator Frank Church and California Governor Jerry Brown – both announced their candidacies for the Democratic nomination and defeated Carter in several late primaries. However, their campaigns started too late to prevent Carter from gathering the remaining delegates he needed to capture the nomination.

By June 1976, Carter had captured more than enough delegates to win the Democratic nomination. At the 1976 Democratic National Convention, Carter easily won the nomination on the first ballot; Udall finished in second place. Carter then chose Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale, a liberal and political protégé of Hubert Humphrey, as his running mate.

Republican Party

Republican candidates

First ballot vote for the presidential nomination by state delegations
Republican Party Ticket, 1976
Gerald Ford Bob Dole
for President for Vice President
Gerald Ford, official Presidential photo.jpg
Bob Dole.jpg
38th
President of the United States
(1974–1977)
U.S. Senator
from Kansas
(1969–1996)
Campaign
Forddole1976.gif
The 1976 Republican National Convention at Kemper Arena in Kansas City. Vice Presidential nominee Bob Dole is on the far left, then Nancy Reagan, Ronald Reagan is at the center shaking hands with President Gerald Ford, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller is just to the right of Ford, followed by Susan Ford and First Lady Betty Ford.

The contest for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in 1976 was between two serious candidates: incumbent president Gerald Ford from Michigan, a member of the party's moderate wing, and former governor of California, Ronald Reagan, a member of the party's conservative wing. The presidential primary campaign between the two men was hard-fought and relatively even; by the start of the Republican Convention in August 1976, the race for the nomination was still too close to call. Ford defeated Reagan by a narrow margin on the first ballot at the 1976 Republican National Convention in Kansas City, and chose Senator Bob Dole from Kansas as his running mate in place of incumbent Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, who had announced the previous year that he was not interested in being considered for the Vice Presidential nomination.[3] The 1976 Republican Convention was the last political convention to open with the presidential nomination still being undecided until the actual balloting at the convention.

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