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Author Topic: Why did Jimmy Carter underperform in Massachusetts in 1976?  (Read 2851 times)
Mechaman
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« on: January 29, 2012, 10:33:56 am »
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In 1976 the Democrats made significant gains nationwide on the electoral map due to wide voter anger against the post-Watergate GOP.  Gains were especially strong in the South, where the favorite son candidate Jimmy Carter swung pretty much the entire Confederacy (minus Virginia) back to the Democratic column and pretty much reversed the Nixon landslides in Arkansas and Georgia that happened four years previous.  In addition Carter also brought down the margins in some more traditional GOP states like Maine, getting very close to winning the state by a less than 1% margin.  Hell, Carter was a Crow's Breath away from taking Oklahoma, a state that went 73% F***ING PERCENT NIXON in 1972.
I could write a college essay about the amount of gains the Democrats made in 1976.  Which is why it's shocking to me that Carter only did 1.91% better in Massachusetts than George Friggin McGovern did four years earlier.  And I've got to wonder, if Massachusetts was willing to go to McGovern with 55% of the popular vote (emphasis), why in an almost exponentially better national environment it went to Carter by a non-noticeable percent better?  I mean this state voted for Humphrey with 63% of the vote in '68!  That's more than Kerry did in 2004!
So this brings up a few questions:
Did the moderate WASP Republican brigade decide to show up in full force that day?
Was there something about Carter that Massachussites just didn't like?
Did Carter's "Born Again" image rub off the wrong way on Massachusetts liberal intellectuals?
Did Catholics feel put off by a Baptist running for President?

Seriously help me here people.
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2012, 10:56:28 am »
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In 1976, we had Gene McCarthy (2.58%) taking some voters from Carter in some states. Carter, although a reconstructed Dixiecrat, had to keep his southern appeal in order to winning election and this generated fear. A bad general election campaign counts too, as he went from a landslide that could get 538 votes to almost lose election.
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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2012, 12:37:20 pm »
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Did the moderate WASP Republican brigade decide to show up in full force that day?
Was there something about Carter that Massachussites just didn't like?
Did Carter's "Born Again" image rub off the wrong way on Massachusetts liberal intellectuals?
Did Catholics feel put off by a Baptist running for President?

1.)  Not Sure

2.)  Lower 2

3 and 4.)  Probably, judging by the swing against Carter in North and South Boston. 


Here's the 1972-1976 swing by congressional district.  Sorry I don't have the regular county map, but this will work.

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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2012, 01:49:23 pm »
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Sorry I don't have the regular county map

But the Atlas has it. Smiley

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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2012, 02:03:15 pm »
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Ford's moderate appeal kept him closer up north.  However, a 16 pt margin in MA isn't exactly tight.  McCarthy's showing probably saved Ford in IA, ME and a few other tight states. 

Keep in mind, Ford's charge starting in Oct was almost enough to steal the election.  Two more weeks and Ford may have won.  Carter did just enough to hold OH, PA and got the "halo" effect in WI from Mondale.
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2012, 02:12:29 pm »
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Sorry I don't have the regular county map

But the Atlas has it. Smiley



Yes, but someone's account expired so they can't see it.  Cry 
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2012, 04:31:42 am »
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Ford's moderate appeal kept him closer up north.  However, a 16 pt margin in MA isn't exactly tight.  McCarthy's showing probably saved Ford in IA, ME and a few other tight states. 

Keep in mind, Ford's charge starting in Oct was almost enough to steal the election.  Two more weeks and Ford may have won.  Carter did just enough to hold OH, PA and got the "halo" effect in WI from Mondale.

Running mates and neighboring states both have effects that are nebulous at best. I seriously doubt that Carter won Wisconsin because his running mate was from a neighboring state.
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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2012, 11:41:36 pm »
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In 1976 the Democrats made significant gains nationwide on the electoral map due to wide voter anger against the post-Watergate GOP.  Gains were especially strong in the South, where the favorite son candidate Jimmy Carter swung pretty much the entire Confederacy (minus Virginia) back to the Democratic column and pretty much reversed the Nixon landslides in Arkansas and Georgia that happened four years previous.  In addition Carter also brought down the margins in some more traditional GOP states like Maine, getting very close to winning the state by a less than 1% margin.  Hell, Carter was a Crow's Breath away from taking Oklahoma, a state that went 73% F***ING PERCENT NIXON in 1972.
I could write a college essay about the amount of gains the Democrats made in 1976.  Which is why it's shocking to me that Carter only did 1.91% better in Massachusetts than George Friggin McGovern did four years earlier.  And I've got to wonder, if Massachusetts was willing to go to McGovern with 55% of the popular vote (emphasis), why in an almost exponentially better national environment it went to Carter by a non-noticeable percent better?  I mean this state voted for Humphrey with 63% of the vote in '68!  That's more than Kerry did in 2004!
So this brings up a few questions:
Did the moderate WASP Republican brigade decide to show up in full force that day?
Was there something about Carter that Massachussites just didn't like?
Did Carter's "Born Again" image rub off the wrong way on Massachusetts liberal intellectuals?
Did Catholics feel put off by a Baptist running for President?

Seriously help me here people.
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GPORTER
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2012, 08:35:30 pm »
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Maybe the lack of enthusiastic support from the Kennedy family had something to do with it.
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2012, 03:15:36 am »
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He is a southerner. They don't like those in Mass., at least unless they know them well.
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« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2012, 03:57:29 am »
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Maybe they had Electoral Mortification Disorder after being the only McGovern state in 1972? The people of the state had to learn GOP for the next 2-3 Presidential elections to reestablish psychic balance and reassure themselves of their normality. Or maybe it was just Jimmeh Catah.
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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2012, 11:15:06 pm »
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He is a southerner. They don't like those in Mass., at least unless they know them well.

There might actually be something to be said for this.
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« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2012, 12:49:19 am »
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another interesting thing about this election that I've noticed is how it was so much less polarized than other elections (outside the deep south at least). Most of the margins of victory in the NE, great plains and west coast and very small, between 5-10 %. Carter only got over 60% in 2 states, Georgia and Arkansas while Ford only broke 60% in Utah. Obviously Georgia makes sense because it was Carter's home state, and Arkansas has a history of supporting down home moderate democrats. And utah is.....utah.

This isn't the case in another close election, 2000. Gore gets over 60% in New York and Rhode Island, and he comes very close in Massachusetts. I suspect his wins in blue states would have been greater without the Nader effect. On the other side, Bush wins 7 states by over 60% of the vote. Interestingly enough, Texas is not one of them.

It's funny to me that Gore and Carter, both native southerners who have a similar performance in their respective elections, have such different results geographically. I guess in 1976 the South had just begun its transition over to the GOP side and still was favorable to southern dems, but by 2000 the realignment had more or less completed and Gore had to look for electoral votes elsewhere.

Another explanation could be the polarization of the candidates themselves. In 2000, Bush and Gore were more ideologically pronounced than Carter and Ford were in 1976. Both presented themselves as pretty moderate, and at times it was hard to tell who was to the left or right of whom. This might explain Carter's strength in the Great Plains and Ford's strength in the Northeast, including Massachusetts. I think the voters were kind of confused, and it came down to who they connected with best, and not where their policies lined up.

Fun Facts about 1976 and 2000
- In 2000, Bush only lost Vermont by a little less than 10 points. 4 years later, he lost it by over 20 points. There's that electoral polarization I was talking about.
-Carter did worse in Mississippi than pretty much anywhere else in the south. He only won it by about 2 points, which could be a sign of strong electoral polarization already occurring there.
-In 1976, Ford lost Ohio by only 11,000 votes, a razor thin margin
-Political historians suggest than one reason Gerald Ford lost Texas was due to a campaign stop there where he struggled to properly eat a tamale. The cultural disconnect could have cost him votes.
-Political historians also suggest that the revelation of George Bush's DUI lost him the state of Maine, as it was the New England state most likely to fall into his column, after NH
-Carter won every single county in Georgia, but one of his weakest counties was DeKalb, which is now one of the strongest Democratic counties in the state.
-Al Gore performed stronger (relatively) in NE states like NJ, NY and MA than Barack Obama did in 2008

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Mechaman
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« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2012, 01:42:11 pm »
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Cope wins the thread.

The rest of you can go home now.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2012, 01:49:40 pm by MechaRepublican »Logged



23:19   Xahar   you're literally a white dude Mechaman
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2012, 01:26:07 am »
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This was an election where NJ, which was overwhelmingly Democratic at the state level, stuck with Ford. I think it was a regional thing in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest.
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« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2012, 06:29:42 am »
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Was the whole bus related issue a factor in some way? Noting especially the poor swings around Boston.
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« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2012, 05:44:08 pm »
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Talking about Massachusetts as some super-duper-liberal-paradise can me misguiding. After all, remember good Wallace's performance there during primary?
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Mechaman
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« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2012, 07:09:04 pm »
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Talking about Massachusetts as some super-duper-liberal-paradise can me misguiding. After all, remember good Wallace's performance there during primary?

But what about as some super-duper-Democratic state?

Jimmy Carter was a way less liberal candidate and he only did less than 2% better than McGovern did.

And then four years later they voted for super conservative hero Ronald Reagan for President over moderate hero Jimmy Carter.

Man, they be weird.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 07:11:43 pm by MechaRepublican »Logged



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« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2012, 09:32:30 pm »
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And then four years later they voted for super conservative hero Ronald Reagan for President over moderate hero Jimmy Carter.

Thanks a lot, Anderson.  Tongue  lol
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« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2012, 09:45:42 pm »
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And then four years later they voted for super conservative hero Ronald Reagan for President over moderate hero Jimmy Carter.

Thanks a lot, Anderson.  Tongue  lol

Then it goes for him again in 1984 with over 50%.
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« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2012, 02:14:00 am »
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And then four years later they voted for super conservative hero Ronald Reagan for President over moderate hero Jimmy Carter.

Thanks a lot, Anderson.  Tongue  lol

Then it goes for him again in 1984 with over 50%.

It's still Mondale's second-best state in that election.
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« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2012, 01:10:34 pm »
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Reagan had ran for the nomination in 1976 and MA did go GOP in 1984 along with NY. And Ford was a moderate. Reagan appeal and Ford moderation made Ford more appealing otherwise to a regular GOP.
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