The 1974 U.S. Presidential Election was in response to Richard Nixon's resignation in November, 1973.

Republican Nomination

Republican candidates

  • John Connally, former Treasury Secretary and Governor of Texas
  • Gerald Ford, Vice President of the United States from Michigan
  • Charles Percy, U.S. senator from Illinois
  • Ronald Reagan, Governor of California
  • Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York

The 1974 Republican primaries saw Vice President Ford narrowly win the nomination over Reagan and Connally. The campaigns of Percy and Rockefeller never really got off the ground. After narrowly winning the nomination on the first ballot, Ford chose Reagan as his running mate. In his acceptance speech, Ford promised to "make America proud once again".

Democratic Nomination

Democratic candidates

  • Robert Byrd, U.S. senator from West Virginia
  • Jimmy Carter, Governor of Georgia
  • Fred Harris, former U.S. senator from Oklahoma
  • Harold Hughes, U.S. senator from Iowa
  • Hubert Humphrey, U.S. senator and former Vice President from Minnesota
  • Henry "Scoop" Jackson, U.S. senator from Washington
  • Eugene McCarthy, former U.S. senator from Minnesota
  • Walter Mondale, U.S. senator from Minnesota
  • Edmund Muskie, U.S. senator from Maine
  • Terry Sanford, former Governor of North Carolina
  • Sargent Shriver, former Director of the Peace Corps from Maryland
  • George Wallace, Governor of Alabama

The Democratic primaries saw incumbent President Carl Albert not seeking the nomination. A host of Democrats sought the nomination to replace Albert, but Muskie, Mondale, and Jackson were considered the front-runners. Jimmy Carter and Fred Harris both did better than expected, but ultimately Muskie's moderate appeal won out against the divided liberal vote of Mondale, Harris, and Shriver. Humphrey and Sanford both hoped for a brokered convention, but were disappointed when Muskie won enough delegates in the primaries to secure the nomination by July. Muskie chose Carter as his running mate, and pledged to bring about a new America.

General Election

Muskie had troble painting Ford with the Nixon scandals since a Democrat (Albert) had been president for almost a year. Ford on the other hand ran a upbeat campaign calling for a new more open government. Ford's running mate Ronald Reagan made up for what Ford lacked in partisanship, Reagan campaign aggressively for Republican House and Senate candidates and attacked President Albert for signing the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union.

Another major problem for Muskie, were the third party bids of Alabama Governor George Wallace and former Senator Eugene McCarthy. Wallace pulled votes away from Muskie's right, while McCarthy pulled at his left.

In the three Presidential debates Ford appeared with Wallace and McCarthy, Muskie only appeared in the last debate. In the finale debate (which only featured Ford and Muskie), Muskie launched a strong attack against Ford and tried to link him to the Nixon years. Ford meanwhile was positive and upbeat, Muskie's poor performance in debate was the last nail in his political coffin.

Candidates Party Popular Vote PV% Electoral Vote Running Mate
Gerald Rudolph Ford Republican 37,527,056 45.9% 451 Ronald Wilson Reagan
Edmund Sixtus Muskie Democrat 29,482,938 37.1% 72 James Earl Carter
George Corley Wallace American Independent 8,729,329 10.9% 15 William D. Dyke
Eugene Joseph McCarthy Independent 5,004,399 5.1% 0 Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm
Other - 856,678 1.0% 0 -

The Ford (i.e. Reagan) Coattails

Thanks to the hard worked of Reagan and other conservatives, the Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in twenty years. Although Ford was at the head of the ticket Reagan had been a shining star throughout the campaign and was credited by many if not most Republicans as the reason for the takeover.

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