United States presidential election, 1976

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Vice President Gerald Ford assumed the office of the Presidency in the midst of an extremely difficult domestic and international situation when President Richard Nixon resigned. Ford is credited with restoring dignity and trust back to the White House, but having been President less than 2 years and having pardoned Richard Nixon which upset a large percentage of a confused populace, Ford had an uphill battle to win an election for President in his own right. In the primary he narrowly defeated California governor Ronald Reagan, a contest that went all the way to the election floor between Ford was declared the winner. The Democrats nominated political-unknown Jimmy Carter, Governor of Georgia and peanut farmer, who easily won his party's nomination. Ford campaigned on his success in his short term in the White House, while Carter campaigned based on the discontent fostered by what is known as the Vietnam syndrome and Misery index -- an index that would later come back to haunt him in the 1980 election. Carter basically told the people to believe in him while being short on specifics as to what that meant other than restoring America's place in the world.

The live televised Presidential Debates also played an important part in the election. Ford looked better in the first debate, but lost his support in the second due to a perceived gaffe he made about Eastern Europe -- which would prove to be true less than 15 years later. In the final outcome, Carter narrowly beat Ford in the election.[1] [2] Ford had been way behind in the polls and his return to make it a tight race was considered very impressive.

candidates popular vote percent electoral vote
James E. Carter 40, 825, 248 50.5% 297
Gerald R. Ford 39, 147, 779 48.4% 241
Eugene McCarthy 680, 390 0.8% 0
Lester G. Maddox 168, 264 0.2% 0



  1. Encyclopedia of Presidents, Gerald Ford, by Paul P. Sipiera, Children's Press, 1989, pp. 82-83.
  2. Encyclopedia of Presidents, James Carter, by Linda R. Wade, Children's Press, 1989, pp. 53, 56-57.
  3. A Pictoral History of the U.S. Presidents, by Clare Gibson, Gramercy Books, 2001, p. 126.