What Happened During the 1976 Presidential Election?

Georgia governor Jimmy Carter defeated President Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential election to become the 39th president of the United States. It was the first election after the Watergate scandal and included the first televised debates since 1960.

President Ford faced California governor Ronald Reagan in the Republican Party primary. Ford decided to participate just before the start of the primary season after previously announcing he would not run for the Republican Party nomination. The race for the nomination was close until the Republican National Convention, where Governor Reagan announced Senator Richard Schweiker as his running mate. The move influenced conservative Republicans to vote for Ford.

Governor Carter received the Democratic Party nomination with a platform emphasizing ecological responsibility, government efficiency and racial equality. Senator Walter Mondale from Minnesota became his running mate at the Democratic National Convention after Governor Carter was nominated on the first ballot. Carter claimed he would be the first Southern president elected since the Civil War.

During the debates, President Ford lost some popularity because of his views on Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. Conversely, Governor Carter effectively fielded questions about his interview with Playboy magazine, while maintaining his stance on wholesome family values. Governor Carter won the election.