All 538 electoral votes of the Electoral College
270 electoral votes needed to win
The 1976 United States presidential election was the 48th quadrennial presidential election. It was 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 1988.
The election of president and vice president of the United States is an indirect election in which citizens of the United States who are registered to vote in one of the 50 U.S. states or in Washington, D.C. cast ballots not directly for those offices, but instead for members of the U.S. Electoral College, known as electors. These electors then in turn cast direct votes, known as electoral votes, for president, and for vice president. The candidate who receives an absolute majority of electoral votes is then elected to that office. If no candidate receives an absolute majority of the votes for President, the House of Representatives chooses the winner; if no one receives an absolute majority of the votes for Vice President, then the Senate chooses the winner.
The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.
James Earl Carter Jr. is an American politician and philanthropist who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. A Democrat, he previously served as a Georgia State senator from 1963 to 1967 and as the 76th governor of Georgia from 1971 to 1975. After his presidency, Carter has remained active in the private sector; in 2002, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center.
President Richard Nixon had won the 1972 election with Spiro Agnew as his running mate, but in 1973 Agnew resigned and Ford was appointed as vice president via the 25th Amendment. When Nixon resigned in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Ford ascended to the presidency, becoming the only president to have never been elected to national office. He faced a strong challenge from conservative former governor Ronald Reagan of California in the Republican primaries, but Ford narrowly prevailed at the convention. Carter was little-known at the start of the 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.
Richard Milhous Nixon was an American politician who served as the 37th president of the United States from 1969 until 1974, when he resigned from office, the only U.S. president to do so. He had previously served as the 36th vice president of the United States from 1953 to 1961, and prior to that as both a U.S. representative and senator from California.
The 1972 United States presidential election was the 47th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 7, 1972. Incumbent Republican President Richard Nixon defeated Democratic Senator George McGovern of South Dakota.
Spiro Theodore Agnew was the 39th vice president of the United States from 1969 until his resignation in 1973. He is the second and most recent vice president to resign the position, the other being John C. Calhoun in 1832. Unlike Calhoun, Agnew resigned as a result of scandal.
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.
The White House Rose Garden is a garden bordering the Oval Office and the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., United States. The garden is approximately 125 feet long and 60 feet wide. It balances the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden on the east side of the White House Complex.
South Vietnam, officially the Republic of Vietnam, was a country that existed from 1955 to 1975, the period when the southern portion of Vietnam was a member of the Western Bloc during part of the Cold War. It received international recognition in 1949 as the "State of Vietnam", which was a constitutional monarchy (1949–1955). This became the "Republic of Vietnam" in 1955. Its capital was Saigon. South Vietnam was bordered by North Vietnam to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, Thailand across the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, and the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia across the South China Sea to the east and southeast.
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 1964 to win a majority of the Southern states. Ford won 27 states, the most states ever carried by a losing candidate. 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.
The southern United States, also known as the American South, Dixie, Dixieland, or simply the South, is a region of the United States of America. It is located between the Atlantic Ocean and the western United States, with the midwestern United States and northeastern United States to its north and the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico to its south.
The Northeastern United States, also referred to as simply the Northeast, is a geographical region of the United States bordered to the north by Canada, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by the Southern United States, and to the west by the Midwestern United States. The Northeast is one of the four regions defined by the United States Census Bureau for the collection and analysis of statistics.
The Western United States is the region comprising the westernmost states of the United States. As European settlement in the U.S. expanded westward through the centuries, the meaning of the term the West changed. Before about 1800, the crest of the Appalachian Mountains was seen as the western frontier. The frontier moved westward and eventually the lands west of the Mississippi River were considered the West.
Georgia is a state in the Southeastern United States. It began as a British colony in 1733, the last and southernmost of the original Thirteen Colonies to be established. Named after King George II of Great Britain, the Province of Georgia covered the area from South Carolina south to Spanish Florida and west to French Louisiana at the Mississippi River. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788. In 1802–1804, western Georgia was split to the Mississippi Territory, which later split to form Alabama with part of former West Florida in 1819. Georgia declared its secession from the Union on January 19, 1861, and was one of the original seven Confederate states. It was the last state to be restored to the Union, on July 15, 1870. Georgia is the 24th largest and the 8th most populous of the 50 United States. From 2007 to 2008, 14 of Georgia's counties ranked among the nation's 100 fastest-growing, second only to Texas. Georgia is known as the Peach State and the Empire State of the South. Atlanta, the state's capital and most populous city, has been named a global city. Atlanta's metropolitan area contains about 55% of the population of the entire state.
Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico; its other neighboring states are Nevada and California to the west and the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California to the south and southwest.
Edmund Gerald Brown Jr. is an American politician who served as the 34th and 39th Governor of California from 1975 to 1983 and from 2011 to 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, Brown served as California Attorney General from 2007 to 2011. He was both the oldest and sixth-youngest Governor of California as a consequence of the 28-year gap between his second and third terms.
|Democratic Party Ticket, 1976|
|Jimmy Carter||Walter Mondale|
|for President||for Vice President|
| 76th |
Governor of Georgia
| U.S. Senator |
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.
The Georgia State Senate is the upper house of the Georgia General Assembly.
Henry Martin "Scoop" Jackson was an American politician who served as a U.S. Representative (1941–1953) and U.S. Senator (1953–1983) from the state of Washington. A Cold War liberal and anti-Communist Democrat, Jackson supported higher military spending and a hard line against the Soviet Union, while also supporting social welfare programs, civil rights, and labor unions.
George Corley Wallace Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, a position he occupied for four terms, during which he promoted "low-grade industrial development, low taxes, and trade schools." He sought the United States presidency as a Democrat three times, and once as an American Independent Party candidate, unsuccessfully each time. He is best remembered for his staunch segregationist and populist views. Wallace was known as "the most dangerous racist in America" and notoriously opposed desegregation and supported the policies of "Jim Crow" during the Civil Rights Movement, declaring in his 1963 inaugural address that he stood for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
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 Ticket, 1976|
|Gerald Ford||Bob Dole|
|for President||for Vice President|
| 38th |
President of the United States
| U.S. Senator |
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.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.
One of the advantages Ford held over Carter as the general election campaign began was that as president he was privileged to preside over events dealing with the United States Bicentennial; this often resulted in favorable publicity for Ford. The Washington, D.C., fireworks display on the Fourth of July was presided over by the president and televised nationally.On July 7, 1976, the President and First Lady served as hosts at a White House state dinner for Elizabeth II and Prince Philip of the United Kingdom, which was televised on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network. These events were part of Ford's "Rose Garden" strategy to win the election, meaning that instead of appearing as a typical politician, Ford presented himself as a "tested leader" who was busily fulfilling the role of national leader and chief executive. Not until October did Ford leave the White House to campaign actively across the nation.
Jimmy Carter ran as a reformer who was "untainted" by Washington political scandals,which many voters found attractive in the wake of the Watergate scandal that had led to President Richard Nixon's resignation. Ford, although personally unconnected with Watergate, was seen by many as too close to the discredited Nixon administration, especially after he granted Nixon a presidential pardon for any crimes he might have committed during his term of office. Ford's pardon of Nixon caused his popularity, as measured by public-opinion polls, to plummet. Ford's refusal to explain his reasons for pardoning Nixon publicly (he would do so in his memoirs several years later), also hurt his image.
Ford unsuccessfully asked Congress to end the 1950s-era price controls on natural gas, which caused a dwindling of American natural gas reserves after the 1973 Oil Crisis.Carter stated during his campaign that he opposed the ending of the price controls and thought such a move would be "disastrous".
After the Democratic National Convention, Carter held a 33-point lead over Ford in the polls[ citation needed ]. However, as the campaign continued, the race greatly tightened. During the campaign Playboy magazine published a controversial interview with Carter; in the interview, Carter admitted to having "lusted in my heart" for women other than his wife and used the word "screw," which cut into his support among women and evangelical Christians. On September 23, Ford performed well in what was the first televised presidential debate since 1960. Polls taken after the debate showed that most viewers felt that Ford was the winner. Carter was also hurt by Ford's charges that he lacked the necessary experience to be an effective national leader, and that Carter was vague on many issues.
However, Ford also committed a costly blunder in the campaign that halted his momentum. During the second presidential debate on October 6, Ford stumbled when he asserted that "there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration". He added that he did not "believe that the Poles consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union" and made the same claim with regard to Yugoslavia and Romania (Yugoslavia was not a Warsaw Pact member).Ford refused to retract his statement for almost a week after the debate; as a result his surge in the polls stalled and Carter was able to maintain a slight lead in the polls.
A vice-presidential debate, the first ever formal one of its kind,between Bob Dole and Walter Mondale also hurt the Republican ticket when Dole asserted that military unpreparedness on the part of Democratic presidents was responsible for all of the wars the U.S. had fought in the 20th century. Dole, a World War II veteran, noted that in every 20th-century war from World War I to the Vietnam War, a Democrat had been president. Dole then pointed out that the number of U.S. casualties in "Democrat wars" was roughly equal to the population of Detroit. Many voters felt that Dole's criticism was unfairly harsh and that his dispassionate delivery made him seem cold. Years later, Dole would remark that he regretted the comment, having viewed it as hurting the Republican ticket. One factor which did help Ford in the closing days of the campaign was a series of popular television appearances he did with Joe Garagiola Sr., a retired baseball star for the St. Louis Cardinals and a well-known announcer for NBC Sports. Garagiola and Ford appeared in a number of shows in several large cities. During the show Garagiola would ask Ford questions about his life and beliefs; the shows were so informal, relaxed, and laid-back that some television critics labelled them the "Joe and Jerry Show". Ford and Garagiola obviously enjoyed one another's company, and they remained friends after the election was over.
There were three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate during the 1976 general election.
|P1||Thursday, September 23, 1976||Walnut Street Theatre||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Edwin Newman|| Elizabeth Drew |
| Jimmy Carter |
|P2||Wednesday, October 6, 1976||Palace of Fine Arts||San Francisco, California||Pauline Frederick|| Max Frankel |
| Jimmy Carter |
|VP||Friday, October 15, 1976||Alley Theatre||Houston, Texas||James Hoge|| Marilyn Berger |
| Bob Dole |
|P3||Friday, October 22, 1976||Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall||Williamsburg, Virginia||Barbara Walters|| Joseph Kraft |
| Jimmy Carter |
Despite his campaign's blunders, Ford managed to close the remaining gap in the polls and by election day, the race was judged to be even. It took most of that night and the following morning to determine the winner. It was not until 3:30 am (EST), that the NBC television network was able to declare that Carter had carried Mississippi and had thus accumulated more than the 270 electoral votes needed to win (seconds later, ABC News also declared Carter the winner based on projections for Carter in Wisconsin and Hawaii while CBS News announced Carter's victory at 3:45 am).Carter defeated Ford by two percentage points in the national popular vote.
The electoral vote was the closest since 1916; Carter carried 23 states with 297 electoral votes, while Ford won 27 states with 240 electoral votes (one elector from Washington state, pledged to Ford, voted for Reagan). Carter's victory came primarily from his near-sweep of the South (he lost only Virginia and Oklahoma) and his narrow victories in large Northern states, such as New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Ford did well in the West, carrying every state in that region except for Hawaii. The most tightly contested state in the election was Oregon; Ford won that state by under 2,000 votes.
A switch of 3,687 votes in Hawaii and 5,559 votes in Ohio from Carter to Ford would have resulted in Ford winning the election with 270 electoral votes.By percentage of the vote, the states that secured Carter's victory were Wisconsin (1.68% margin) and Ohio (.27% margin). Had Ford won these states and all other states he carried, he would have won the presidency. The 27 states he won were and still are the most states ever carried by a losing candidate for president. Had Ford won the election, the provisions of the 22nd amendment would have disqualified him from running in 1980 as he served more than two years of Nixon's second term.
Carter was the first Democrat since John F. Kennedy in 1960 to carry the states of the Deep South—Bill Clinton is the only Democrat since 1976 to carry more than one state from the Deep South, doing so in both 1992 and 1996—and the first since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 to carry a majority of all southern states. Carter performed very strongly in his home state of Georgia, carrying 66.7% of the vote and every county in the state. His winning of 23 states was only the first time since the 1960 election and the second time in history that the winner of the election won less than half the states. His 50.1% of the vote was the only time since 1964 that a Democrat managed to obtain an absolute majority of the popular vote in a presidential election until Barack Obama won 52.9% of the vote in 2008. Carter is one of five Democrats since the American Civil War to obtain an absolute majority of the popular vote, the others being Samuel J. Tilden, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson and Barack Obama.
This election represents the last time to date that Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, or South Carolina would vote Democratic, and the last time North Carolina would vote Democratic until 2008, as well as the last time Florida voted Democratic until 1996, the last time Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee voted Democratic until 1992. It is also the last time in which Shasta, Yuba, Placer, El Dorado and Madera Counties in California, Brazoria, Williamson and McLennan Counties in Texas, Madison County in Alabama, Duval and Brevard Counties in Florida, Warren County, Kentucky and St. Mary's County, Maryland would vote Democratic. Cobb and Gwinnett Counties in Georgia would never again vote Democratic until 2016.This election was the last time that a Democrat won the presidency without winning California, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
It was the first time in exactly 100 years (since 1876) when Florida and Virginia supported different candidates. This would happen again in 1996 and 2016. It was also the first time since Oklahoma statehood in 1907 when the Sooner State and Tennessee supported different candidates, an occurrence replicated only in 1992 and 1996.
|Presidential candidate||Party||Home state||Popular vote||Electoral|
|Count||Percentage||Vice-presidential candidate||Home state||Electoral vote|
|James Earl Carter Jr.||Democratic||Georgia||40,831,881||50.08%||297||Walter Frederick Mondale||Minnesota||297|
|Gerald Rudolph Ford Jr. (Incumbent)||Republican||Michigan||39,148,634||48.02%||240||Robert Joseph Dole||Kansas||241|
|Ronald Wilson Reagan||Republican||California||—||—||1|
|Roger MacBride||Libertarian||Virginia||172,557||0.21%||0||David Bergland||California||0|
|Lester Maddox||American Independent||Georgia||170,274||0.21%||0||William Dyke||Wisconsin||0|
|Thomas J. Anderson||American||158,271||0.19%||0||Rufus Shackelford||Florida||0|
|Peter Camejo||Socialist Workers||California||90,986||0.11%||0||Willie Mae Reid||Illinois||0|
|Gus Hall||Communist||New York||58,709||0.07%||0||Jarvis Tyner||New York||0|
|Margaret Wright||People's||California||49,013||0.06%||0||Benjamin Spock||Connecticut||0|
|Lyndon LaRouche||U.S. Labor||New York||40,043||0.05%||0||R. Wayne Evans||Michigan||0|
|Needed to win||270||270|
Source (Popular Vote):Leip, David. "1976 Presidential Election Results". Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved August 7, 2005.
Source (Electoral Vote): "Electoral College Box Scores 1789–1996". National Archives and Records Administration . Retrieved August 7, 2005.
This election represents the second time that the winning candidate has received a majority of the electoral votes although the second-place candidate carried a majority of the states. It had previously happened in the 1960 election.
|States/districts won by Carter/Mondale|
|States/districts won by Ford/Dole|
States where margin of victory was under 1% (35 electoral votes):
States where margin of victory was under 5% (264 electoral votes):
States where margin of victory was more than 5%, but less than 10% (105 electoral votes):
|Social groups and the presidential vote, 1976|
|Less than US$10,000||13||58||40|
|Professional or manager||39||41||57|
|Clerical, sales, white-collar||11||46||53|
|Less than high school||11||58||41|
|High school graduate||28||54||46|
|Labor union household||28||59||39|
|No member of household in union||62||43||55|
|18–21 years old||6||48||50|
|22–29 years old||17||51||46|
|30–44 years old||31||49||49|
|45–59 years old||23||47||52|
|60 years or older||18||47||52|
|City over 250,000||18||60||40|
Source: CBS News/ New York Times interviews with 12,782 voters as they left the polls, as reported in the New York Times, November 9, 1980, p. 28, and in further analysis. The 1976 data are from CBS News interviews.
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It was also the first election that New Mexico did not back the winning candidate and the last time until 2000 (and 2016) and the only election that New Mexico did not back the winner of national popular vote since it had achieved statehood in 1912. In 2000 and 2016, the national popular vote winner eventually lost the electoral vote and thus the presidency.
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