Carter Is Elected President (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: Weakening of party lines in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate era results in a mixed mandate from a divided electorate.
Summary of Event
Jimmy Carter took the presidency from Gerald Ford by a popular vote margin of only 2 percent—the same figure that one year earlier had represented the minuscule proportion of Democrats who preferred the former Georgia governor as their party’s presidential nominee. It was the first time that an incumbent president had been defeated in forty-four years. Carter had come a long way, indeed, but just barely. Not only did Carter receive a bare majority of the popular vote and carry a minority of the states, but he also had a margin of only fifty-six electoral votes. It was the narrowest victory since Woodrow Wilson defeated Charles Evans Hughes by twenty-three electoral votes in 1916.
The very geography of the electoral vote seemed to reflect this narrow victory by presenting a symmetrical picture of a nation split roughly down the middle, with a solid South opposing a granite West. Yet the closeness of the national vote was really a closeness found mostly within, rather than between, the states. Relatively slight shifts of the popular vote in a few states easily could have altered the election results substantially. Independent candidate Eugene McCarthy’s vote in Iowa, Maine, Oklahoma, and Oregon was greater than Ford’s plurality over Carter. It is...
(The entire section is 1573 words.)
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