A Note About the Large 2016 Field…

Reading Rick Perlstein’s excellent The Invisible Bridge has reminded me that 1976 was another year where there were many Presidential aspirants, particularly on the Democratic side.   In that year, the post-Watergate era brought in a Democratic sweep in Congress, a muscular approach to Congressional oversight, and a feeling among many in the Beltway that they could do it better.  Yet the contenders were all small enough that Jimmy Carter was able to rise to the top.

  1. Frank Church
  2. Henry ‘Scoop’ Jackson
  3. Jimmy Carter
  4. Mo Udall
  5. Jerry Brown
  6. Fred Harris
  7. Sargent Shriver
  8. Birch Bayh
  9. George Wallace
  10. Terry Sanford
  11. Robert Byrd
  12. Hubert Humphrey (didn’t run but won a few primaries)
  13. Edward Kennedy – no offiical run, but always in the background.

The GOP side featured only two combatants, incumbent President Ford and Ronald Reagan, but the quantity of candidates was surpassed by the intensity of the conflict.  If one counts ‘speculative candidates,’ that is candidates the media was talking about but did not enter, you’d have to mention Charles Percy, MD Senator Charles Mathias, Former Treasury Secretary and TX Governor John Connally.