Most likely winner in a no-watergate 1976 Presidential election?

Most likely to win?

  • John Connally

    Votes: 15 20.0%
  • Ronald Reagan

    Votes: 24 32.0%
  • Gerald Ford

    Votes: 8 10.7%
  • Liberal "establishment" democrat(Bayh, Muskie as examples)

    Votes: 15 20.0%
  • Conservative/hawkish/"new dealer" establishment democrat(Jackson as an example)

    Votes: 10 13.3%
  • Right-populist democrat/George Wallace

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • "independent" right-wing democrat(Carter, others like him)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Independent left or center democrat(Brown as top example)

    Votes: 1 1.3%
  • Others(please explain)

    Votes: 2 2.7%

  • Total voters
    75
So who do you think is the most likely to win out of these? Assume things go middle of the road/reasonably well: Vietnam having been stabilized, Nixon/Kennedy able to come to an agreement on healthcare in 1974/1975 among other events to indicate it goes smoothly.

My top three for most likely are 1) Connally 2) A hawk/moderate democrat like Jackson 3) Gerald Ford, using his history as being VP to propel him to the top. My reasoning for Connally as #1 is well, Nixon liked and not only that despite his comparative moderation he was also liked by conservatives too. Connally's being able to take some of the conservative vote plus locking up various moderate/northern or western republican supporters imo means that if he goes for the nomination he likely beats Reagan in it.
 
A lot of people think that Connally (Nixon's preferred successor) would have been the nominee, but I disagree. I think Reagan would be the favorite, no matter how much backing Nixon gave Connally for several reasons. One is that no-Watergate does absolutely nothing to help the bad economy of the mid-1970s, and judging by Nixon's previous economic policies, I believe he'd actually handle the situation. worse than OTL. With recession throughout most of his second term, and with Agnew's scandal, Nixon would quickly become pretty unpopular, and by 1976 I doubt his endorsement would be powerful enough to carry Connally across the finish line against Reagan. In the primary system that had been put in place by 1976, I don't see Reagan losing to Connally. Hell, he almost won against an incumbent president in OTL.

The general election is a different story altogether, and I can't give a clear answer on who would win. Reagan would certainly have a strong chance, but I'd still think the democrats would be the favorites depending on if they nominate a strong candidate.
 
Without watergate to make "small government" more credible, I don't see Reagan being seen as anything more than fringe without watergate.
You don't think the Vice President having to resign because of corruption, a recession, stagflation, and the oil crisis would have any effect at all?
 
It's probably going to be Reagan running against an establishment Democrat. I think the establishment Dem's a narrow favorite, as they'll be able to run on improving the economy and Reagan being a bit fringe.
 
MUCH less effect than the literal president having to resign.
I disagree actually. Watergate sucked all the oxygen out of the room in a way which kind of caused the public to ignore some of the issues of the time that were a result of pure policy failures on behalf of the Nixon admin and the "GOP establishment". 1976 had nationwide primaries too, an environment which undoubtedly benefits Reagan. Reagan could also have the advantage of presenting "new ideas" in a time where the "old ideas" of the Nixon admin had been shown to have failed. I am very confident that Reagan could sell that to the Republican primary voters, I don't think he would be anywhere near so successful in selling it to the general election voter base though.
 
IMO watergate was a BIG factor in making the nixon admin/eastern establishment look as bad as it did. Without watergate I see movement conservatives being one wing of several in the GOP but not most of the party as they are OTL.

Plus you know, a south vietnam that's surviving in 1976 even if it's' a bit of a mess like south korea in the 1950s means one big policy failure of OTL is avoided. This reduces attraction of neocon ideas both domestically and foreign-policywiseto the electorate.
 

GeographyDude

Gone Fishin'
. . . no-Watergate does absolutely nothing to help the bad economy of the mid-1970s, and judging by Nixon's previous economic policies, I believe he'd actually handle the situation. worse than OTL. . .
Honest to gosh, economic numbers were improving in ‘76.* Yes, Nixon might do worse as you point out. For example, might ride with failed policies too long and/or be too abrupt in making policy shifts.

It might come down to a feel-and-texture decision on the part of voters. Are we making a practical, doable response to Japanese and Korean competition in manufacturing, for example ? ? (even though automation is the bigger longterm issue)

—————————————————

*GDP improvement? Yes.

But only about a 1% improvement in unemployment. I mean, Holy cow! Very slow on that front.
May 1975: 9% unemployment

November 1975: 8.3%

May 1976: 7.4%

November 1976: 7.8% unemployment
 
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Honest to gosh, economic numbers were improving in ‘76.* Yes, Nixon might do worse as you point out. For example, might ride with failed policies too long and/or be too abrupt in making policy shifts.

It might come down to a feel-and-texture decision on the part of voters. Are we making a practical, doable response to Japanese and Korean competition in manufacturing, for example ? ? (even though automation is the bigger longterm issue)

—————————————————

*GDP improvement? Yes.

But only about a 1% improvement in unemployment. I mean, Holy cow! Very slow on that front.
May 1975: 9% unemployment

November 1975: 8.3%

May 1976: 7.4%

November 1976: 7.8% unemployment
Yeah, Nixon's go-to response to economic crises seemed to be short term bandaids and kicking the can down the road. However imo by the mid-70s that approach had pretty much reached its limit. If Nixon tries to establish more price controls for example, the situation would only continue to get worse. Its important to remember too that I'm specifically talking about the GOP primary, not the general election. So while I do think Reagan's approach economically would seem fresh and like new to the primary voters, I don't know how well even Reagan could sell that message to your average independent voter or what IOTL became the Reagan Democrats.
Anyone think Reagan/Connally is likely? Might make piece with Nixon's group.
Unlikely, but I guess it depends on how the liberal Republicans take Reagan being nominated. If for some reason he's seen as a necessary fresh start then maybe Reagan would take the chance and go with another conservative like Connally. However I don't think thats very likely at all, because I can't imagine the liberal Republicans not putting up a fight.

The problem here is that without Nixon being radioactive, you have three main groups in power inside the GOP as I see it in 1976. The liberal Rockefeller Republicans, the conservatives like Reagan and Goldwater, and then Nixon's "law and order" type crowd that talks like the conservatives but is fairly close to the liberal side of the GOP on a lot of actual policy. Connally would risk alienating the Reagan-leaning conservatives who would otherwise like him by having to defend Nixon's economic policies which could very well be fairly unpopular among conservatives by this time. If he doesn't defend Nixon's record, he's risking losing the support of the man who would pretty much be propping up his campaign, so thats not an option.
 
It’s pretty safe to assume that this butterflies the Iran hostage crisis, and by extension probably the Iran-Iraq War. That creates a very interesting situation, because the giant oil price bump that lasted until 1986 IOTL is most likely butterflied and the glut/price collapse from excess capacity that happened IOTL happens by probably 1979-1980. Within five years of the price collapse IOTL, the USSR was caput, and that was with Gorbachev massively cutting defense spending. If crunch time happens while Brezhnev or Andropov are in charge instead and Reagan is in the White House, things could get bad.
 
This might be a little off topic, but what happens to George Bush's career? Will he still go to China, or head the CIA?
Well when Agnew resigns I feel like Bush would be on the shortlist for VP, but given Nixon's preference for Connally, Bush likely doesn't get picked. I'm sure Nixon would find some important job for Bush (he seemed to think fairly highly of him, but ill admit I don't know much about their relationship). Idk if that would be in China or as head of the CIA, but I imagine HW would still end up being a major player inside the GOP, although he might not ever become VP or President.

That being said, I suppose its possible if Reagan wins the nomination in 1976 that he picks Bush as his running mate though. It would make sense as Bush could be accepted by both the Rockefeller Republicans and the Nixonites. The problem is that idk if he'd have a high enough profile by 1976 for him to be considered an acceptable compromise. Maybe if Reagan wins he gets the secretary of state job though, but I don't think the odds are for Reagan winning the general election.
 
Reagan was still way too out there to win a national election in 1976. I mean in 1980, after all the failures of the Carter administration, he still only won by like 8%. Without the distrust of government Watergate created and without the Carter administration, there's no reason to think he could win.

In 1976, you have a Republican Party that's still in some pretty serious scandal and is facing the beginnings of economic trouble. That isn't exactly the formula for a party winning its third term in a row. I think the nomination is 50/50 between an establishment Republican and Reagan, but either way they lose to whoever the establishment Democrats get behind.
 
Reagan was too fringe IMO. But with Tricky Dick hitting the beginnings of the oil crisis and not being the best on economics...he might be able to push Connolly through, but it might be some other establishment Republican as the nominee.

I'd say that some lesser scandal hits Dick just by the sheer volume of crap he was involved in. My money's still on the Dems to win, but it won't be Carter, he won the nomination in large part due to Watergate souring America on the establishment.

As for the Dem--won't be Ted Kennedy. Chappaquiddick makes him unpalatable to much of the country. Humphrey is tainted by '68 and too old IMO. McGovern is a joke. I'm going to throw Scoop Jackson, Mo Udall, and Lloyd Bentsen out there (though he's on the older side too). Mondale might have a shot too though he's kinda boring.

The Dems probably win due to a faltering economy and Nixon being a corrupt sack of shit.
 

bguy

Donor
Well when Agnew resigns I feel like Bush would be on the shortlist for VP, but given Nixon's preference for Connally, Bush likely doesn't get picked.

Do you really think Connally could get confirmed for VP even in a no-Watergate timeline? The Democrats in Congress hate him as a traitor, and the congressional Republicans are going to be leery of him since he was a Democrat as recently as two years ago. And it's not like Nixon is all that popular on the Hill either, so Congress isn't going to confirm Connally just because Nixon wants it.
 
So we're assuming Watergate happens but the plumbers don't get caught? And Agnew is still out of the picture by late 1973?

In that case, assuming everything stays the same but no Watergate, I'm thinking the Democratic nomination goes to Scoop narrowly and he wins the whole enchilada in a narrow election where the economy is the biggest issue.

Wonder if there's a path for Mo Udall in such a scenario however.
 
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