PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN & ELECTIONS
OVERVIEWS & CHRONOLOGIES: 1976
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
Election Year: 1976
Election Day Date: November 2, 1976
Winning Ticket: James Carter (Southern Baptist), Walter Mondale, Democratic 40,831,881 50.08% 297 55.2%
- Gerald Ford (Episcopalian), Robert Dole, Republican 39,148,634 48.02% 240 44.6%
- Eugene McCarthy-Independent 740,460 0.91% 0 0.0%
- Other (+) – – 810,609 0.99% 0 0.0%
- Total VAP 152,309,190
- Total REG 105,134,692
- Total Vote 81,531,584
- %VAP 53.5%
- %REG 77.5%
Central Forums/Campaign Methods for Addressing Voters:
Stumping, speaking tours; rallies; speeches; print/television ads; interviews; television, resumption of televised Presidential debates
Election Law/Campaign Finance Changes:
- Buckley v. Valeo (1976), the Court held that individuals could not be made to accept campaign limits. Spending money on a campaign was the equivalent to free speech. Candidates can only have their spending limited if they enter into agreements to limit spending by taking federal campaign funds.
- O’Hara Commission: Commission on Rules of the Democratic National Committee
Incumbent President and Vice President on Election Day:
Gerald Rudolph Ford, Nelson Rockefeller, Republican, 1974-1977
Population: 1976: 218,086,000
Nominal GDP (billions of dollars): $1,824.6 Real GDP (billions of 2005 dollars): $5,141.3 GDP Deflator (index 2005=100%): 35.49 Population (in thousands): 218,086
Nominal GDP per capita (current dollars): $8,366 Real GDP per capita (year 2005 dollars): $23,575
Number of Daily Newspapers: 1,745 (1980)
Average Daily Circulation: 62,201,840 (1980)
- Radio 79,968,240 (1980)
- Television 76,300,000 (1980)
Method of Choosing Electors: Popular vote (mostly General Ticket/Winner Take All)
Method of Choosing Nominees: Presidential preference primaries and caucuses
Central Issues (Nomination/Primaries):
Watergate Scandal (Pardoning former President Richard Nixon); forced desegregation (busing)
Leading Candidates (Nomination/Primaries):
Democratic Party candidates:
- Jimmy Carter, former governor of Georgia
- Jerry Brown, governor of California
- George Wallace, governor of Alabama
- Morris Udall, U.S. representative (Arizona)
- Henry M. Jackson, U.S. senator (Washington)
- Frank Church, U.S. senator (Idaho)
- Robert Byrd, U.S. senator (West Virginia)
- Sargent Shriver, former U.S. ambassador to France (Maryland)
- Fred R. Harris, former U.S. senator (Oklahoma)
- Birch Bayh, U.S. senator (Indiana)
- Lloyd Bentsen, U.S. senator (Texas)
- Terry Sanford, former Governor of North Carolina
- Milton Shapp, governor of Pennsylvania
Republican Party candidates:
- Gerald Ford, President of the United States (Michigan)
- Ronald Reagan, former governor of California
- Harold E. Stassen, former Governor of Minnesota and candidate for the 1948, 1952, 1964, 1968 and 1972 nominations
Main Controversies (Nomination/Primaries):
America’s Bicentennial, Year of the Evangelical,
Campaign Innovations (Nomination/Primaries):
- Increase in number of states participating in the primaries
Major Personalities (Nomination/Primaries):
Jimmy Carter; George Wallace; Senator Frank Church of Idaho;
Governor Jerry Brown of California; Senator Henry (“Scoop”) Jackson of Washington; Birch Bayh of Indiana, Fred Harris of Oklahoma, and Morris Udall of Arizona
Turning Points (Nomination/Primaries):
- Jimmy Carter went from unknown to front runner, won: Iowa caucus; New Hampshire primary over Washington “insiders”; Florida, North Carolina,
- Carter had spent two years traveling the country “meeting people, shaking hands, delivering speeches, appearing on local television, and getting to know reporters and editors.”
- Carter won North Carolina primary over Alabama Governor George Wallace
- Carter won Pennsylvania primary over Washington Senator Henry Jackson
- Arizona Congressman Morris Udall close in primaries after Carter’s lead
- Late entry candidates: California Governor Jerry Brown and Idaho Senator Frank Church
- Ronald Reagan entered the Presidential campaign challenging President Ford for the nomination
- Ford won sixteen primaries, early primaries; collected wavering delegates; painted Reagan as an extremist, who should not be trust with nuclear power
- Reagan won ten primaries, Southern and Western states, lead in delegate count entering the convention; accused Ford of negotiating the transfer of the Panama Canal
- July 26, 1976: Reagan lost momentum trying to amass support in the East, announced, he was choosing Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania, a liberal Republican, as his running mate; it failed to garner him liberal delegates, only alienated conservatives, especially in Mississippi
- “Evil incarnate in the buddy system in Washington.” California Governor Ronald Reagan
- Ford has “neither the vision nor the leadership necessary to halt and reverse the diplomatic and military decline of the United States.” California Governor Ronald Reagan
- “When you vote Tuesday, remember: Governor Ronald Reagan couldn’t start a war. President Ronald Reagan could.” Gerald Ford
- Democratic 27 76.0% delegates
- Republican 30 71.0% delegates
Democratic Party: Jul 01, 1976
- Jimmy Carter: 6,235,609, 39.19%
- Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr.: 2,449,374, 15.39%
- George Corley Wallace: 1,955,388, 12.29%
- Morris King “Mo” Udall: 1,611,754, 10.13%
- Henry Martin “Scoop” Jackson: 1,134,375, 7.13%
- Frank Church: 830,818, 5.22%
- Robert C. Byrd: 340,309, 2.14%
- R. Sargent Shriver, Jr.: 304,399, 1.91%
- Unpledged: 283,437, 1.78%
- Ellen McCormack: 238,027, 1.50%
- Fred R. Harris: 234,568, 1.47%
Republican Party: Jul 01, 1976
- Gerald Ford (I): 5,529,899, 53.29%
- Ronald Wilson Reagan: 4,760,222, 45.88%
- Others: 37,044, 0.36%
- Unpledged: 34,717, 0.33%
- Lawrence “Lar” Daly: 7,582, 0.07%
Conventions (Dates & Locations):
- Democratic National Convention: July 12-15, 1976, Madison Square Garden; New York, Lindy Boggs, (Louisiana) 1st ballot, Jimmy Carter (Georgia), Walter Mondale, (Minnesota)
- Republican National Convention: August 16-19, 1976, Kemper Arena; Kansas City, 1st ballot, Gerald R. Ford (Michigan), Robert J. Dole (Kansas)
Conventions Turning Points:
Democratic National Convention:
- Jimmy Carter the dark horse candidate prior to the convention amassed more than the majority 1,054 votes needed for the nomination
- Carter wanted to be perceived as a unity candidate; George Wallace, Coretta Scott King and other prominent African-Americans, joined Carter on the victory platform before a televised broadcast
- Carter chose Senator Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota an “insider” as his running mate
- Mondale won on the first ballot, House Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma and Representative Barbara C. Jordan of Texas also received votes
Republican National Convention:
- Gerald Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan for the nomination on the first ballot
- Chose conservative Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate
Number of Ballots to Choose Nominees:
Democratic Party Nomination:
Presidential 1st ballot
- Gov. Jimmy Carter 2,239 (74.48%)
- Rep. Morris King “Mo” Udall 330 (10.98%)
- Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown, Jr. 301 (10.01%)
- Gov. George Corley Wallace 57 (1.90%)
- Ellen McCormack 22 (0.73%)
- Sen. Frank Church 19 (0.63%)
- Sen. Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Jr. 10 (0.33%)
Republican Party Nomination:
Presidential 1st ballot
- Pres. Gerald Ford 1,187 (52.57%)
- Gov. Ronald Wilson Reagan 1,070 (47.39%)
- Secretary of Commerce Elliot L. Richardson 1 (0.04%)
Third Party Candidates & Nominations:
- Eugene McCarthy ran as an Independent
Convention Keynote Speaker:
- Democratic National Convention: Representative Barbara C. Jordan of Texas
Nominating Speech Speakers (President):
Party Platform and Issues:
- Democratic Party: Noncontroversial platform; wide-raging Democratic goals; comprehensive national health insurance system with universal and mandatory coverage, welfare reform, the environment, energy conservation, new energy sources; ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment
- Republican Party: Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment; foreign policy, secret agreements banned; federalizing the welfare system opposition
- “When Jimmy Carter says he’ll beat you, he’ll beat you, and he beat us fair and square. As I leave the convention hall tonight, I’m going to have one of those green buttons that dogged me all over America.” Arizona Congressman Morris Udall
- “I’m ready to lay down the burden of race, and Jimmy Carter comes from a part of the country that, whether you know it or not, has done just that.” Andrew Young, black Congressman from Georgia seconded Carter’s nomination
General Election Controversies/Issues:
“outsider” and an “insider”; character issue;
Campaign Innovations (General Election):
- Reintroduction of the Presidential debate (last and first series of debates in 1960)
- Vice Presidential debate
Major Personalities (General Election):
Eugene McCarthy; Robert Dole; Joe Garagiola, Sr.;
- Carter ran as an “untainted” Washington outsider; honest reformer; “born again” Christian
- Active campaign, nasty attacks against Ford; “an appointed President”; “Can you think of a single program that he’s put forth that’s been accepted?”
- “Rose Garden” strategy, through ceremonial, patriotic, and high profile presidential events; tested, national leader; held occasional press conferences
- Actively campaigned only in October
- Television commercials sponsored by the President Ford Committee, showed Ford as a family man
- September 23, 1976 Presidential Campaign Debate in Philadelphia
- October 6, 1976 Presidential Campaign Debate in San Francisco
- October 15, 1976 Vice-Presidential Debate in Houston
- October 22, 1976 Presidential Campaign Debate in Williamsburg, Virginia
- The League of Women Voters sponsored the series of debates between Ford/Carter
- Ford challenged Carter to debates, Ford accused Cater of inexperience; Carter was vague on many of the issues, but promised to end desegregation busing; Ford won the first debate, narrowed Carter’s lead by half
- Ford heavily faltered in the second debate with his comments about Communism and the Soviet Union
- Vice Presidential debate Walter Mondale and Robert Dole, Dole blamed the Democratic Presidents of military unpreparedness and they were responsible for every war the U.S. had fought in the twentieth century, noting that a Democrat President presided over every war the US was involved in. Voters found Dole harsh and cold in his blame, despite the fact he was a World War II veteran himself (U.S. casualties in “Democrat wars” was roughly equal to the population of Detroit)
Turning Points (General Election):
- In the first polls of the general election Ford trailed Carter by 33 percentage points
- Carter tarnished his “born again” image with and interview with Playboy, claiming “I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times”; blunder the press emphasized; “SEX, SIN, TEMPTATION — CARTER’S CANDID VIEW,” Chicago SunTimes. The Washington Star: “CARTER ON SIN AND LUST; ‘I’M HUMAN . . . I’M TEMPTED'”
- Another controversy erupted from the interview when lumped Lyndon Johnson with Richard Nixon, as “lying, cheating and distorting the truth”; Carter quickly backed, claims his comments were distorted, but Lady Bird Johnson would not see him when he campaigned in Texas, and Johnson’s daughter Luci, who did make and appearance, was icy.
- Ford participated in a series of television appearances with Joe Garagiola, Sr., retired baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals and announcer for NBC Sports. The two appeared in several different cities together, they were informal interview shows, Garagiola asked Ford questions about his life and beliefs; television critics called the “Joe and Jerry Show.”
- The shows helped Ford and narrowed the polling margin between the two candidates
- General George S. Brown, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman made anti-Israel comments; Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz’s racist joke on a plane trip was leaked to the press, he resigned
- A black minister from Americus, Georgia, applied for a job a Carter’s segregated Baptist church in Plains, he was refused, and pressure was put on Carter to withdraw his membership, Carter refused, but promised decreased discrimination. The President Ford Committee sent telegrams to 407 black ministers for comments, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, and Martin Luther King, Sr. defended Carter and the issue was resolved
Republican: Gerald Ford
- “He’s making us proud again”
- “Let’s Make America Great Again”
- “The Time is Now”
Democrat: Jimmy Carter
- “Carter-Mondale: Keep them Working For You”
- “Re-Elect Carter Mondale: A Tested and Trust Worthy Team”
- “Not Just Peanuts,” “A Leader, For a Change”
- Democratic: Jimmy Carter: “Ode to The Georgia Farmer” (K.E. and Julia Marsh), Republican: Gerald Ford: “I’m Feeling Good about America” (Robert K. Gardner)
Influential Campaign Appeals or Ads:
Money Spent (Each Campaign/Party/Overall):
Defining Quotation (Winning Candidate):
- “I’ll never tell a lie, I’ll never knowingly make a misstatement of fact. I’ll never betray your trust. If I do any of these things, I don’t want you to support me.” Jimmy Carter
- “My name is Jimmy Carter, and I’m running for President.… As I’ve said many times before, we can have an American President who does not govern with negativism and fear of the future, but with vigor and vision and aggressive leadership—a President who’s not isolated from the people, but who feels your pain and shares your dreams and takes his strength and his wisdom and his courage from you.” Jimmy Carter, “Our Nation’s Past and Future”: Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Democratic National Convention in New York City, July 15, 1976
- “I can’t quit my lifetime of worship. . . . I’ll do all I can to eliminate the last vestige of discrimination . . . but I’m not going to resign from the human race because it discriminates. My best opportunity is to stay in the church and try to change its attitude.” Jimmy Carter in response to segregation at his church
- “Can you think of a single program that he’s put forth that’s been accepted?”… “It’s really come down to the character of the two men.” Jimmy Carter
- “I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do — and I have done it — and God forgives me for it. But that doesn’t mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock. Christ says, Don’t consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who’s loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.” Jimmy Carter, Playboy magazine interview
- “If I should ever decide in the future to discuss my deep Christian beliefs . . . I’ll use another forum besides Playboy.” Jimmy Carter, October 22, 1976, Third Presidential Debate
Defining Quotation (Losing Candidate):
- “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe and there never will be under a Ford administration.” Gerald Ford
- I don’t believe, – Mr. Frankel that – the Yugoslavians consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. I don’t believe that the Rumanians consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. I don’t believe that the Poles consider themselves dominated by the Soviet Union. Each of those countries is independent, autonomous: it has its own territorial integrity and the United States does not concede that those countries are under the domination of the Soviet Union. Gerald Ford
- “We’re in the last quarter and the ninth inning. That’s when you win.” Gerald Ford
- “Tonight I can tell you straightaway this Nation is sound, this Nation is secure, this Nation is on the march to full economic recovery and a better quality of life for all Americans. And I will tell you one more thing: This year the issues are on our side. I am ready, I am eager to go before the American people and debate the real issues face to face with Jimmy Carter. The American people have a right to know firsthand exactly where both of us stand.” Gerald Ford, Remarks in Kansas City Upon Accepting the 1976 Republican Presidential Nomination, August 19, 1976
- “There’s no really big issue moving people to vote one way or another. It’s which man the voters feel more comfortable with.” Ron Nessen Ford’s press secretary
- “The inability of President Ford and Jimmy Carter to excite, arouse, and mobilize the country, can be ascribed to many reasons. The principal one is that vast numbers of voters have looked at the two men and see no practical differences. . . .” Jerald ter Horst, one of Ford’s staffers
Significant books about the campaign:
- Jules Witcover. Marathon: The Pursuit of the Presidency, 1972–1976 (New York: Viking)
Lasting Legacy of Campaign:
- Jimmy Carter was the first President elected from the deep south after the Civil War; Zachary Taylor was the last in 1848.
- First Democrat to carry the deep south’s electoral votes since Kennedy in 1960; first since Johnson in 1964 to win a majority of the south.
- 50.1% of the vote second time since 1964 a Democrat received a majority popular vote.
- Carter one of five Democrats to receive popular vote majority since the Civil War, (Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Samuel Tilden, and Barack Obama).
- 1973-1974: Watergate Scandal
- April 30, 1973: “Nixon admits responsibility for the Watergate affair on television, but continues to assert no prior knowledge of it.”
- August 7-8, 1973: “Vice President Agnew comes under scrutiny for charges stemming from campaign contributions he received while in office from persons who were later given government contracts. Agnew vehemently denies the charges in a press conference.”
- October 10, 1973: “Vice President Spiro Agnew resigns and pleads “no contest” to charges stemming from a kickback scheme he ran while Governor of Maryland. Agnew is fined $10,000 and sentenced to three years probation.”
- October 11, 1973: “President Richard Nixon offers Gerald Ford the nomination for vice president. Ford accepts.”
- October 12, 1973: “Gerald Ford is nominated as vice president. After being confirmation by Congress.”
- December 6, 1973: “Ford is sworn in as vice president in the House chamber. Ford remarks that he is a “Ford, not a Lincoln.””
- July 27-30, 1974: “Three articles of impeachment are brought against Nixon by the House Judiciary Committee: obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and the unconstitutional defiance of its subpoenas.”
- August 5, 1974: “Three new transcripts are released, showing that Nixon ordered a cover-up less than a week after the break-in. Nixon issues a statement with the transcripts indicating that he withheld this evidence from his lawyers and from those who support him on the Judiciary Committee.”
- August 8, 1974: Nixon resigns from the presidency, effective at noon the next day, in a televised address.
- August 9, 1974: Gerald Ford succeeds as President.
- September 8, 1974: Gerald Ford pardons former President Richard Nixon in a nationally telecast speech.
- Forced desegregation (busing)
- October 10, 1974: “General George S. Brown, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman made anti-Israel comments; ‘Israel Lobby’ Has Too Much Influence in Washington; Criticizes ‘Israel Lobby’ at a speech at Duke University Law School forum.”
- October 15, 1974: “Ford signs the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1974, the most significant attempt at campaign finance reform since the 1920s.”
- November 5, 1974: Mid term election: Democrats “gain 43 House seats and 3 Senate seats, giving them a majority in both Houses of Congress. They also gain 4 governorships.”
- December 19, 1974: “By a vote of 287-128, the House confirms Nelson A. Rockefeller as vice president; he is later sworn into office.”
- 1974-1975: Democrat Jimmy Carter spends two years traveling the country “meeting people, shaking hands, delivering speeches, appearing on local television, and getting to know reporters and editors.”
- June 27, 1975: Prohibition Party Convention nominates Benjamin C. Bubar for President.
- June 29, 1975: Communist Party National Convention nominates Gus Hall for President.
- August 31, 1975: Libertarian Party Convention nominates Roger L. MacBride for President.
- August 31, 1975: People’s Party Convention nominates Margaret Wright for President
- September 1, 1975: Socialist Party Convention nominates Frank P. Zeidler for President.
- September 5, 1975: “Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme attempts to assassinate President Ford in San Francisco.”
- November 4, 1975: “Rockefeller withdraws his name for consideration for the vice presidency in the 1976 presidential election.”
- November 8, 1975: Ronald Reagan enters the Presidential campaign challenging President Ford for the nomination. “Ronald Reagan, moves toward an open challenge to Gerald R. Ford for the Republican Presidential nomination, will mount a campaign aimed at quickly undercutting the psychological advantage that an incumbent President brings to any political contest.”
- November 20, 1975: “Former California governor Ronald Reagan announces that he will challenge Ford for the Republican nomination for President.”
- Ford wins sixteen primaries, early primaries; collects wavering delegates; paints Reagan as an extremist, who should not be trusted with nuclear power.
- Reagan wins ten primaries, Southern and Western states, leads in delegate count entering the convention; accuses Ford of negotiating the transfer of the Panama Canal
- January 19, 1976: Iowa caucuses (both parties) Iowa caucus Democratic [Carter rises into public eye with strong showing; more attention paid to Iowa] Iowa straw poll Republican [Ford narrow win in contest with few votes] Jimmy Carter went from unknown to front runner, won: Iowa caucus; New Hampshire primary over Washington “insiders”; Florida, North Carolina,
- January 24, 1976:: Mississippi Democratic caucuses
- January 27, 1976:: Hawaii Republican caucuses
- February: Maine Democratic caucuses (all month long)
- February 4-March 6, 1976:: Wyoming Republican caucuses
- February 7, 1976:: Oklahoma Democratic caucuses
- February 10, 1976: Alaska Democratic caucuses
- February 11, 1976: Socialist Labor Party Convention nominates Jules Levin for President.
- February 24, 1976: Minnesota caucuses (both parties), New Hampshire Primary, Democratic, Carter wins Republican, Ford wins close race. Ford beats Ronald Reagan in the New Hampshire primary, winning 51 percent of the vote.
- February 28: South Carolina Democratic caucuses
- March 1, 1976: “Under pressure from Reagan and more conservative Republicans, Ford agrees not to use the word “détente.””
- March 2, 1976: Massachusetts primary, Vermont primary (beauty contest–no delegates at stake), Washington caucuses (both parties) Massachusetts, Vermont primaries
- March 9, 1976: Hawaii Democratic caucuses, Florida Primary Democratic [Carter beats Wallace in a state Wallace had counted on before]
- March 12-13, 1976: South Carolina Republican caucuses (through March 13)
- March 14, 1976: Wyoming Democratic caucuses
- March 16, 1976: Illinois primary, Democratic [Carter wins] Republican [Ford winning streak in primaries]
- March 19, 1976:: Kansas Republican caucuses
- March 23, 1976: Connecticut Republican caucuses, North Carolina primary North Carolina Democratic [Carter won North Carolina primary over Alabama Governor George Wallace, who withdraws from the race] Republican [First Reagan primary win]
- March 27, 1976: Mississippi Republican caucuses
- March 29, 1976: Maine Republican caucuses
- April 3, 1976: Kansas Democratic caucuses, Virginia Democratic caucuses
- April 5, 1976: Oklahoma Republican caucuses
- April 6, 1976: New York primary, Wisconsin primary Wisconsin Primary, Carter wins over Udall by 1% Arizona Congressman Morris Udall close in primaries after Carter’s lead
- April 19, 1976: Missouri Republican caucuses (through April 24)
- April 20, 1976: Missouri Democratic caucuses
- April 22, 1976: New Mexico Democratic caucuses
- April 24, 1976: Arizona Democratic caucuses/Republican convention, Vermont caucuses (both parties)
- April 25, 1976: New Mexico Republican caucuses (through May 1)
- April 27, 1976: North Dakota Democratic caucuses, Pennsylvania Primary, Democratic [Carter won Pennsylvania primary over Washington Senator Henry Jackson]
- April 27, 1976: “Jimmy Carter speaks of healing and uniting the Democratic party. He seemed to share the sense among his top staff and cheering supporters that the Pennsylvania primary has almost sealed his Presidential nomination.” (NYT)
- April 29, 1976: “Jimmy Carter and Hubert H. Humphrey, to whom the Democratic Presidential race has apparently narrowed, have never confronted each other in a primary election. But if they had, New York Times/CBS News polls indicate, they would have attracted voters from two very different groups within the party’s rank and file.” (NYT)
- May 1, 1976: Louisiana Democratic caucuses, North Dakota Republican caucuses (lasts through June 14), Texas primary
- May 3, 1976: Colorado caucuses (both parties)
- May 4, 1976: Alabama primary, Georgia primary, Indiana primary. Washington DC (Democrats), Georgia, Indiana primaries
- May 8: Louisiana Republican caucuses (through May 15)
- May 11, 1976: Connecticut Democratic caucuses; Nebraska primary; West Virginia primary; Nebraska primary. Idaho Senator Frank Church Church wins over Carter in Nebraska.
- May 14-15, 1976: Virginia Republican caucuses
- May 17, 1976: Utah caucuses (both parties)
- May 18, 1976: Maryland primary; Michigan primary. In Michigan Carter wins Udall by less than 1%.
- May 18, 1976: “Ford approves congressional revisions in the Federal Elections Commission and Federal Election Campaign Act to permit resumption of federal check-off subsidies for all presidential campaigns.”
- May 22: Alaska Republican caucuses
- May 25, 1976: Arkansas primary, Idaho primary, Kentucky primary, Nevada primary, Oregon primary, Tennessee primary, Tennessee Democratic. Church takes Oregon, Idaho and Brown Nevada, but Carter wins in the South and the divided opposition can’t catch up with him.
- June 1, 1976: Montana primary (Democrats only, Republican beauty contest–no delegates at stake), Rhode Island primary, South Dakota primary
- June 8, 1976: California primary, New Jersey primary, Ohio primary Extremely close race in Ohio between Reagan and Ford, once caucus results are included the delegate totals are more even than any other convention.
- June 11, 1976: Delaware Democratic convention.
- June 19, 1976: Delaware Republican convention.
- June 20, 1976: American Independent Convention nominates Thomas Jefferson “Tom” Anderson for President.
- June 26, 1976: Montana Republican convention
- July 4, 1976: President Ford presides over the televised Washington, D.C. fireworks display for the Bicentennial Fourth of July. “President Ford speaks at Valley Forge and Independence Hall.” Part of Ford’s “Rose Garden” strategy of ceremonial, patriotic, and high profile presidential events; tested, national leader; hold occasional press conferences
- July 7, 1976: “President Ford and the First Lady hosts British Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at a White House state dinner, televised on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) network.”
- July 12-15, 1976: Democratic National Convention convenes at Madison Square Garden, in New York. Lindy Boggs, (Louisiana) serves as chairman. The convention nominates on the 1st ballot, Jimmy Carter (Georgia) for President, and Walter Mondale (Minnesota) for Vice President. Jimmy Carter is the dark horse candidate prior to the convention; he amasses more than the majority 1,054 votes needed for the nomination. Carter wants to be perceived as a unity candidate; George Wallace, Coretta Scott King and other prominent African-Americans, join Carter on the victory platform before a televised broadcast. Carter chooses Senator Walter F. Mondale of Minnesota, an “insider” as his running mate. Mondale won on the first ballot, House Speaker Carl Albert of Oklahoma and Representative Barbara C. Jordan of Texas also received votes
- July 15, 1976: Jimmy Carter gives an address “Our Nation’s Past and Future” accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Democratic National Convention in New York City.
- August 4, 1976: Reagan announces he is choosing Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania, a liberal Republican, as his running mate. (Reagan loses momentum trying to amass support in the East, it fails to garner him liberal delegates, only alienates conservatives, especially in Mississippi)
- August 7, 1976: Ronald Reagan’s four-day tour to show off his proposed running mate, Senator Richard S. Schweiker of Pennsylvania. ended here today with both men publicly proclaiming it a success.
- August 16-19, 1976: Republican National Convention convenes in the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. The convention nominates on the 1st ballot, Gerald R. Ford (Michigan) for President, and Robert J. Dole (Kansas) Gerald Ford narrowly defeated Ronald Reagan for the nomination on the first ballot; Chose conservative Senator Robert Dole of Kansas as his running mate.
- August 19, 1976: “After a hard fought battle against former Governor Ronald Reagan of California, the Republican National Convention nominates Ford as its Presidential candidate (Ford wins with 1,187 votes to Reagan’s 1,070). Ford selects Senator Robert Dole from Kansas as his running-mate.”
- August 19, 1976: Gerald Ford gives remarks in Kansas City upon accepting the 1976 Republican Presidential Nomination.
- August 25, 1976: “James A. Baker becomes Ford’s campaign manager.”
- In the first polls of the general election Ford trails Carter by 33 percentage points
- August 28, 1976: American Independent Party Convention nominates Lester Maddox for President.
- Carter runs as an “untainted” Washington outsider; honest reformer; “born again” Christian. Active campaign, nasty attacks against Ford; “an appointed President”; “Can you think of a single program that he’s put forth that’s been accepted?”
- Television commercials sponsors by the President Ford Committee, show Ford as a family man.
- September 1976: Another controversy erupts from the Playboy interview (November 1976 issue) when Carter lumps Lyndon Johnson with Richard Nixon, as “lying, cheating and distorting the truth.” Carter quickly backs down, claims his comments were distorted, but Lady Bird Johnson would not see him when he campaigns in Texas, and Johnson’s daughter Luci, who did make an appearance, was icy.
- September 24, 1976: “Jimmy Carter, seeking the 26 Electoral College votes of Texas, expressed regret today about his remarks that former President Lyndon B. Johnson had engaged in “lying, cheating and distorting the truth.””
- September 26, 1976: First Presidential Campaign Debate in Philadelphia (The League of Women Voters sponsors the series of debates between Ford/Carter). Ford challenges Carter to debates. Ford accuses Carter of inexperience. Carter is vague on many of the issues, but promises to end desegregation busing. Ford wins the first debate, narrows Carter’s lead by half.
- October 1976: Ford only actively campaigns in the last month of the campaign
- October 4, 1976: Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz’s racist joke on a plane trip is leaked to the press, prompting him to resign.
- October 6, 1976: Second Presidential Campaign Debate in San Francisco. Ford heavily falters in the second debate with his comments about Communism and the Soviet Union.
- October 12, 1976: “Ford is pelted with eggs by an antagonistic crowd while campaigning in New York City.”
- October 15, 1976: Vice-Presidential Debate in Houston between Walter Mondale and Robert Dole, Dole blames the Democratic Presidents of military unpreparedness and they were responsible for every war the U.S. had fought in the twentieth century, noting that a Democrat President presided over every war the US was involved in. Voters find Dole harsh and cold in his blame, despite the fact he is a World War II veteran himself (U.S. casualties in “Democrat wars” was roughly equal to the population of Detroit)
- October 22, 1976: Third Presidential Campaign Debate in Williamsburg, Virginia.
- October 1976: Carter tarnishes his “born again” image with and interview with Playboy (November 1976 issue), claiming “I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times”; blunder the press emphasized; “SEX, SIN, TEMPTATION — CARTER’S CANDID VIEW,” Chicago SunTimes. The Washington Star: “CARTER ON SIN AND LUST; ‘I’M HUMAN . . . I’M TEMPTED'”
- Ford participated in a series of television appearances with Joe Garagiola, Sr., retired baseball player for the St. Louis Cardinals and announcer for NBC Sports. The two appeared in several different cities together, they were informal interview shows, Garagiola asked Ford questions about his life and beliefs; television critics called the “Joe and Jerry Show.” The shows help Ford and narrow the polling margin between the two candidates
- October 16, 1976: President Ford asserts Carter will say ‘Anything Anywhere’ to be elected President. (NYT)
- October 21, 1976: “A Gallup poll shows Ford reducing the gap between Carter and himself to 6 percent.”
- November 3, 1976: “The pastor of President-elect Jimmy Carter’s church has called for a meeting November 14 to consider whether he should be dismissed because of a racial dispute and his support of Mr. Carter in his race for the Presidency and concerning his controversial interview with Playboy magazine.”
- November 4 , 1976: “While President elect Jimmy Carter savors his victory and begins to pull together the reins of state, the quiet country church from which he has said he draws spiritual sustenance was being torn apart by racial tensions and leadership questions.”
- November 14, 1976: The Rev. Bruce Edwards, President-elect Jimmy Carter’s minister at the Plains Baptist Church and the central figure in a racial controversy here, says that he does not want anyone to misinterpret his belief that there is spiritual guidance behind his stand that his church must be open to all who want to enter. A black minister from Americus, Georgia, applies for a job a Carter’s segregated Baptist church in Plains, he is refused, and pressure was put on Carter to withdraw his membership, Carter refuses, but promises decreased discrimination.
- The President Ford Committee sent telegrams to 407 black ministers for comments. Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Jesse Jackson, Andrew Young, and Martin Luther King, Sr. defend Carter and the issue was resolved.
- November 2, 1976: Election Day; Democrats Jimmy Carter is elected President and Walter Mondale is elected Vice President.
- December 13, 1976: Presidential Electors cast the electoral votes in their state capitals.