1976 United States presidential election

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1976 United States presidential election

← 1972 November 2, 1976 1980 →
Turnout64.8% 1.1 pp
Nominee Fidel Castro Bob Dole Phyllis Schlafly
Party Progressive Republican America First
Home state Cuba Kansas Missouri
Running mate Jimmy Carter John Glenn Jesse Helms
Popular vote 30,158,009 29,334,528 20,097,451
Percentage 37.4% 36.3% 24.9%

President before election

Bob Dole

Elected President

Fidel Castro

The 1976 United States presidential election was the 48th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on Tuesday, November 2, 1976. Progressive Fidel Castro of Cuba defeated incumbent Republican President Bob Dole from Kansas and America First candidate Phyllis Schlafy of Missouri with 30,158,009 votes to Dole’s 29,334,528 and Schlafly’s 20,097,451.

Dole pursued a "Rose Garden strategy" in which he sought to portray himself as an experienced leader focused on fulfilling his role as chief executive. On the other hand, Castro emphasized his status as a reformer who was "untainted" by Washington. Saddled with a poor economy and his unpopular pardon of Agnew, Dole trailed by a wide margin in polls taken after Castro's comtroversial nomination in July 1976. Dole's polling rebounded after a strong performance in the first presidential debate, and the race was close on election day.

Candidates[edit | edit source]

Progressive Candidates[edit | edit source]

Fidel Castro Jimmy Carter Henry M. Jackson Mo Udall George McGovern
Governor of Cuba
Governor of Georgia
Secretary of Defense
Rep. from Arizona
Vice President
Won nomination LN: July 15
(endorsed Castro)
W: July 15
(endorsed Castro)
W: July 15
(endorsed Castro)
W: May 29
(endorsed Udall)

Although initially the front runner, former President and incumbent Vice President George McGovern soon saw his popularity evaporate amongst the core Progressive voter base as he became too connected with the Republican administration of Bob Dole. McGovern was also forced to defend some of his Republican cabinet colleagues from corruption charges on the news, which led to him gaining the distrust of Progressive party officials. McGovern dropped out of the race on May 29, siting a lack of support.

With the 1976 Progressive National Convention deadlocked between Jimmy Carter, Scoop Jackson and Mo Udall, Jackson and Udall supported endorsing a compromise candidate to stop Carter (who had a substantial plurality of delegates) from winning the nomination. With the convention gridlocked, Jackson and Udall both agreed to either endorse Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale or Cuba Governor Fidel Castro as the Progressive nominee. Mondale refused to be nominated and so Udall and Jackson both withdrew from the race and endorsed their delegates to back Castro as a unity candidate. Castro finally defeated Carter on the 17th ballot despite not actively seeking the nomination.

In order to secure his endorsement and unite the party, Castro offered Carter the running mate slot on the Progressive ticket, which he reluctantly accepted.

Republican Candidates[edit | edit source]

Bob Dole Ronald Reagan
President of the U.S.
Governor of California
Won nomination LN: August 16
(endorsed Dole)