q aboutReagan vs gerald ford in the 74/75 gop primaries

What would of happened if Reagan had won the nomination?

this was brought up by a younger disgruntled repub I know who thinks if someone moderate (and a real republican in his words)challenged the current occupant they have a chance to win the nomination
I pointed out it had happened before and all that happened was Carter won but Reagan gained quite a following which helped him in 80 and ford was bitter over it ….

which brings me to the OP because no one knew if it was even possible ……

I’m no sure what the question means. Are you asking about speculative fiction on how the world would be different if Reagan had defeated Ford for the nomination? Or are you asking how an election campaign worked with a un-nominated incumbent in the White House?

Of course it’s possible, why would you think it wasn’t?

Not sure this belongs in GQ, but the short answer is–impossible to know.

  1. Ford nearly came back to win anyway, despite the divisive primary. So there was a constituency for a Republican victory.

  2. Reagan was the first really electable “movement conservative,” which might have turned off some moderate Republicans in what was a less ideologically polarized era.

  3. However, Reagan and Ford’s moderate VP Nelson Rockefeller were friends (surprise! they become close through the Republican Governors Association). In fact Reagan was outraged when Ford dumped Rocky from the ticket. So Rockefeller might have been a really useful campaign ally for Reagan.

  4. Then again a lot of conservatives were outraged when, before the convention, Reagan picked Sen. Richard Schweiker of PA as his (potential) running mate. Reagan was looking to appeal to Republican moderate delegates, but instead just angered conservatives. This may have played a role in…

  5. The famously contested Mississippi delegation. Reagan was counting on them at the convention; they went for Ford instead. Schweiker’s selection may have played a role though a lot was in play there.

There’s a lot more to cover and I’m sure others will. Perhaps the most intriguing possibility is Rocky helping swing NY to Reagan–Carter won there by less than 5%. If NY goes Republican, Reagan wins. That’s ignoring all other possible effects of a Reagan candidacy.

I was asking about how a party/sitting pres would or could handle such a situation if it happened
could the party void the results could the pres still run who’d cut a deal ect the closed backroom technical aspects ……

I don’t see Reagan winning. There was still too much resentment directed against the Republicans over Nixon and Agnew. It was the Democrats’ year.

If Reagan had won the nomination and then lost the general election, it might have cut off his momentum. If he tried to run again in 1980, he would have had the burden of being the guy who Carter had already beaten once. And Reagan’s loss in 1976 would be added to Goldwater’s loss in 1964 and Nixon’s loss in 1960; Republican voters might have decided that a conservative candidate couldn’t win in the general election and decided to play it safe with more electable moderates.

Ah I see. Nothing would have happened. The backroom negotiations would have occurred in the run-up to the convention ballot. Any attempt to remove Reagan after he had been nominated at the convention would have been chaos for the party. Even those who (in this hypothetical) would have been convinced Reagan would lose would have done nothing.

The nomination fight between Ford and Reagan was the last time that a nomination for either major party was still undecided at the outset of the convention, and both campaigns spent the early days of the convention working hard to woo the still-undeclared delegates.

Gerald Ford was a decent and reasonable man, and loyal to his country and his party (in that order, I suspect). Had Reagan pulled off the nomination, Ford would have accepted defeat gracefully, and wouldn’t have supported any attempt to contest the result. Similarly, even if the GOP establishment preferred Ford over Reagan, they would have immediately closed ranks behind Reagan once he had the nomination.

The nomination of Trump in 2016 was an even more extreme case of a nominee that the party leaders generally disliked and did not favor for their nominee, and yet, save for a relatively small proportion of “Never Trumpers” who refused (and many of whom still refuse) to fall in line, the party, as a whole, still supported him.

I would imagine too that the rules are laid out in the party bylaws. Voiding the result of a convention would be among other things, political suicide - it would lead to the obvious campaign ads “even his own party didn’t want him. Why would you vote for him?” Voiding party choice despite bylaws would probably also lead to serious lawsuits should someone want to contest it.

Which brings up the question, how much discretion vs. bylaws did Republican party brass have back then?

5 sitting presidents were denied renomination by their parties, but only 1 (Franklin Pierce) was elected in his own right. The other four all succeeded to the presidency by the death of the previous president.