The 1976 presidential election was the 48th presidential election in the United States. The contest was between Democrat Jimmy Carter and incumbent Republican President Gerald Ford.
During the 1972 election, Richard Nixon was elected president. His running mate, Spiro Agnew, resigned in 1973 and Gerald Ford was appointed as Vice President. Following Nixon’s resignation in 1974 in the wake of the Watergate scandal, Ford became president. Ford was the only president that had never been elected to the national office.
Jimmy Carter’s political career consisted of four years as a state senator and one term as Georgia’s governor. His Democratic opponents were Rep. Morris K Udall of Arizona, Senator Henry M. Jackson of Washington, and Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota. Carter’s nomination had numerous setbacks; however, the delegates to the Democratic National Convention met in New York City in July 1976 and nominated him on the first ballot. In order to win the presidential election, Jimmy Carter knew that he needed undivided support from the southern states.
Gerald Ford and former California Governor Ronald Reagan battled it out for the Republican nomination. Ford and Reagan battled throughout the primaries and afterward. During their convention in August, Republicans ultimately nominated Ford on the first ballot. In an effort to strengthen his base in the Midwest, Ford chose Senator Bob Dole of Kansas as his running mate for the election.
Carter had a 30 percentage point lead over Ford in the Gallup and Harris polls by the time the Democratic convention adjourned. During the general election, Ford’s strategy was to remain in the White House as much as possible to project a “presidential image.” Major topics during the general election campaign included the economy, abortion, the character of the two candidates, and the desirability of change. Ford paid a price for his pardon of Nixon and Carter was a Washington outsider.
There were three public debates between Carter and Ford and a fourth with the vice-presidential nominees.
Jimmy Carter won the following states in the 1976 election:
- District of Columbia
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Gerald Ford won the following states in the 1976 election:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Jimmy Carter received 40,825,839 popular votes and Gerald Ford received 39,147,770 population votes. In the Electoral College, Carter received 297 votes and Ford received 240. Although Ford won Washington, one elector cast a vote for Ronald Reagan.
Jimmy Carter became the 39th United States president. He was inaugurated on January 20th, 1977.