Notes: In some years, a few states had more than one contest (usually a non-binding vote or straw poll and a separate delegate-selection process) which can produce a split decision. Map colors are assigned to the earlier or more competitive result (*Carter won other vote in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Illinois--where, in a last gasp of old-era machine politics, Mayor Daley sought to influence the convention with the 'Stevenson' block of delegates). Usually, by the time of the convention, many states' delegates have been switched to the obvious front-runner, so maps based on convention votes would appear less competitive. Also, some states allow voting for "uncommitted" delegates which occasionally get more votes than any candidate (but not shown on maps).


In 1976, while new Republican president Ford and challenger Reagan dueled in one of the hottest Republican primary seasons ever, the Democrats had a long list of candidates to choose from. Early contests favored devout (but non-racist) peanut-farmer Carter over a group of more liberal candidates who often split the liberal vote. Udall was a strong challenger but almost always came in second best to Carter (Wisconsin and Michigan were agonizingly close races). Bayh fared worse and was quickly eliminated. Conservative stalwart Wallace had recovered enough to attempt a run, but Carter defeated him in major contests on their shared home turf in the South. Another relative conservative, Henry Jackson, picked off some states but was beaten in Pennsylvania and lost momentum. Jerry Brown and Church rose up late to challenge Carter, winning a number of states mainly in the West, but also fell short because they could not match Carter's nationwide campaign. Soon Carter had an overwhelming advantage in delegates and nothing short of an enormous swimming rabbit could prevent his nomination. Carter went on to beat Ford in a surprisingly close race and lead us deep into malaise (or whatever that was called).

Masked by this win was the ongoing shift of the Southern social conservatives away from the Democrats, whom they had supported since the Civil War. Carter was an example of a man who was Christian and pro-civil rights, but much of the old Democratic party in the South was the former but not the latter. The movement of many African-Americans from the Republican party to the Democrats earlier in the 20th century had given the Democratic party a split personality on social issues, which was only resolved by the opposite migration of white conservative Protestants, frustrated by clashes with 'Northern' integrationists and other liberals, towards the opportunistic GOP (after third-party breakaways in 1948 and 1968 failed to convince the Northern Democrats to pay heed).



Schedule of 1976 primaries from Congressional Quarterly’s Presidential Elections, 1789-1996

Iowa caucus [Carter rises into public eye with strong showing; more attention paid to Iowa]
February 24: New Hampshire [Carter wins again]
March 2: Massachusetts, Vermont
March 9: Florida [Carter beats Wallace in a state Wallace had counted on before]
March 16: Illinois [Carter win]
March 23: North Carolina [Carter beats Wallace, who departs race]
April 6: Wisconsin [Carter over Udall by 1%]
April 27: Pennsylvania [Carter over Jackson]
May 4: DC (Democrats), Georgia, Indiana
May 11: Nebraska, West Virginia [Church over Carter in Nebraska]
May 18: Maryland, Michigan [In Michigan Carter beats Udall by less than 1%]
May 25: Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee [Church also takes Oregon, Idaho and Brown Nevada but Carter is in control in the South and divided opposition can’t catch him]
June 1: Montana, Rhode Island, South Dakota
June 8: California, New Jersey, Ohio


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