1976 Elections Carter vs Ford

The forced resignations, separately, of both President Nixon and Vice President Agnew left President Ford the first President ever not elected to national office. Ford did not have the support that most incumbent Presidents enjoyed. The rising right-wing of the party was especially unhappy with Ford, and Governor Reagan of California, chose to challenge Ford for the Republican Presidential nomination. Reagan challenged Ford in all of the primaries. Ford and Reagan arrived at the convention with nearly the same number of delegates. Ford, however, managed to carry the convention on the first ballot. The convention accepted Ford after he agreed to nominate Senator Dole, of Kansas, as his Vice Presidential running mate. Dole was favored by the right-wing of the party.

The Republican platform, however, reflected the views of the Reaganites: increased defense spending, retention of the Panama canal, opposition to busing and abortion. The Democratic nominee, Governor Carter, of Georgia, was an almost total unknown. Carter started out early and campaigned in each and every primary. Eventually, Carter won so many delegates that he was totally unbeatable.

The 1976 general election campaign began with Ford trailing by over 30 points. Ford challenged Carter to a series of debates. Ford performed well during the first debate and managed to cut Carter’s lead by 10 points. In the second debate, Ford made a major mistake by saying that Eastern Europe was free from Soviet domination. This campaign also included the first debates between vice presidential candidates, pitting Dole against Mondale. Mondale came off as the winner of that debate.

Jimmy Carter got into trouble after giving a Playboy interview in which he talked candidly about “desire in his heart”. Carter campaigned as an outsider intent on cleaning up Washington. Carter won the election by a very narrow margin over Ford, thanks to his support from the South, labor, blacks and white ethnics.

Particpation of Eligible Voters 53.3%

Democratic Convention
Republican Convention

 

State results in 1976

Electoral Results in 1976

Alabama Jimmy Carter 659,170 55.7 Gerald Ford 504,070 42.6
Alaska Jimmy Carter 44,058 35.7 Gerald Ford 71,555 57.9
Arizona Jimmy Carter 295,602 39.8 Gerald Ford 418,642 56.4
Arkansas Jimmy Carter 498,604 65.0 Gerald Ford 267,903 34.9
California Jimmy Carter 3,742,284 47.6 Gerald Ford 3,882,244 49.3
Colorado Jimmy Carter 460,353 42.6 Gerald Ford 584,367 54.0
Connecticut Jimmy Carter 647,895 46.9 Gerald Ford 719,261 52.1
Delaware Jimmy Carter 122,596 52.0 Gerald Ford 109,831 46.6
Florida Jimmy Carter 1,636,000 51.9 Gerald Ford 1,469,531 46.6
Georgia Jimmy Carter 979,409 66.7 Gerald Ford 483,743 33.0
Hawaii Jimmy Carter 147,375 50.6 Gerald Ford 140,003 48.1
Idaho Jimmy Carter 126,549 36.8 Gerald Ford 204,151 59.3
Illinois Jimmy Carter 2,271,295 48.1 Gerald Ford 2,364,269 50.1
Indiana Jimmy Carter 1,014,714 45.7 Gerald Ford 1,183,958 53.3
Iowa Jimmy Carter 619,931 48.5 Gerald Ford 632,863 49.5
Kansas Jimmy Carter 430,421 44.9 Gerald Ford 502,752 52.5
Kentucky Jimmy Carter 615,717 52.8 Gerald Ford 531,852 45.6
Louisiana Jimmy Carter 661,365 51.7 Gerald Ford 587,446 46.0
Maine Jimmy Carter 232,279 48.1 Gerald Ford 236,320 48.9
Maryland Jimmy Carter 759,612 52.8 Gerald Ford 672,661 46.7
Massachusetts Jimmy Carter 1,429,475 56.1 Gerald Ford 1,030,276 40.4
Michigan Jimmy Carter 1,696,714 46.4 Gerald Ford 1,893,742 51.8
Minnesota Jimmy Carter 1,070,440 54.9 Gerald Ford 819,395 42.0
Mississippi Jimmy Carter 381,309 49.6 Gerald Ford 366,846 47.7
Missouri Jimmy Carter 998,387 51.1 Gerald Ford 927,443 47.5
Montana Jimmy Carter 149,259 45.4 Gerald Ford 173,703 52.8
Nebraska Jimmy Carter 233,692 38.5 Gerald Ford 359,705 59.2
Nevada Jimmy Carter 92,479 45.8 Gerald Ford 101,273 50.2
New Hampshire Jimmy Carter 147,635 43.5 Gerald Ford 185,935 54.7
New Jersey Jimmy Carter 1,444,653 47.9 Gerald Ford 1,509,688 50.1
New Mexico Jimmy Carter 201,148 48.1 Gerald Ford 211,419 50.5
New York Jimmy Carter 3,389,558 51.9 Gerald Ford 3,100,791 47.5
North Carolina Jimmy Carter 927,365 55.2 Gerald Ford 741,960 44.2
North Dakota Jimmy Carter 136,078 45.8 Gerald Ford 153,470 51.6
Ohio Jimmy Carter 2,011,621 48.9 Gerald Ford 2,000,505 48.7
Oklahoma Jimmy Carter 532,442 48.7 Gerald Ford 545,708 50.0
Oregon Jimmy Carter 490,407 47.6 Gerald Ford 492,120 47.8
Pennsylvania Jimmy Carter 2,328,677 50.4 Gerald Ford 2,205,604 47.7
Rhode Island Jimmy Carter 227,636 55.4 Gerald Ford 181,249 44.1
South Carolina Jimmy Carter 450,807 56.2 Gerald Ford 346,149 43.1
South Dakota Jimmy Carter 147,068 48.9 Gerald Ford 151,505 50.4
Tennessee Jimmy Carter 825,879 55.9 Gerald Ford 633,969 42.9
Texas Jimmy Carter 2,082,319 51.1 Gerald Ford 1,953,300 48.0
Utah Jimmy Carter 182,110 33.6 Gerald Ford 337,908 62.4
Vermont Jimmy Carter 80,954 43.1 Gerald Ford 102,085 54.4
Virginia Jimmy Carter 813,896 48.0 Gerald Ford 836,554 49.3
Washington Jimmy Carter 717,323 46.1 Gerald Ford 777,732 50.0
West Virginia Jimmy Carter 435,914 58.0 Gerald Ford 314,760 41.9
Wisconsin Jimmy Carter 1,040,232 49.4 Gerald Ford 1,004,987 47.8
Wyoming Jimmy Carter 62,239 39.8 Gerald Ford 92,717 59.3
Dist. of Col. Jimmy Carter 137,818 81.6 Gerald Ford 27,873 16.5