A review of Jimmy Carter’s rise to victory
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
Another US election has passed, resulting in a victory for the Democrats and their candidate, Jimmy Carter, a former governor of Georgia, on November 2.
Carter defeated incumbent president and Republican candidate Gerald Ford. Carter received 50.08 per cent of the popular vote and 55.2 per cent of the electoral vote, while Ford received 48.01 per cent of the popular vote and 44.6 per cent of the electoral vote, as shown by the US Election Atlas.
The election came so close that the results were not fully totaled until early the next morning. The margin of popularity between the candidates is the closest to occur in a presidential election since 1916, according to PBS. Most of the swing states were central, with Georgia, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Alabama containing the largest swing motions in the country.
Carter did not start in high favour amongst Democrats, and had only a four per cent favour ranking within the party. However, in the course of a couple of months, Carter rose in the polls as the frontrunner for the Democrats, and even surpassed the approval ratings of former president Ford.
Despite the disadvantage of running against the incumbent and being relatively unknown prior to his candidacy, Carter maintained an array of successes during the campaign, usually caused indirectly by blunders and inconsistencies by Ford. Carter’s obscurities and “clean-slate” fared well against Ford, who had a controversial image surrounding the Nixon administration and Watergate Scandal, despite having no direct hand in the scandal itself.
Still, while Carter eventually had a sizable lead in the polls over Ford, that margin narrowed up until the day of the election. Some of Carter’s support had dwindled after a controversial interview with Playboy Magazine, in which Carter had said: “I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times.”
Although Carter’s answer led to some criticism from more conservative and religious voters, he also showed to be a more moderate, even conservative, Democrat, leading to some apprehension by America’s more liberal voters. As often pointed out by Ford, Carter was consistently called a “soft” candidate who could not handle the pressure of a presidential campaign.
While Carter will not be inaugurated until January 1977, many feel optimistic about the upcoming president as the year slowly draws to an end.