Wow. Twelve declared Republican presidential candidates as of today, and another four expected. Sixteen total. That’s seems nuts.

But thinking back to my college days when I had dreams of being another Theodore White and read every campaign history I could lay my hands on, I remember doing a rather long paper on the 1976 presidential election campaign. It’s probably stuffed in a box around here somewhere. That was the first election after Watergate, and the Democrats had blown the GOP to smithereens in the previous midterms. Watergate, you’ll remember. If you were a Democrat and breathing you were elected that year. And as 1976 approached, the excitement was too much for many Democrats and fifteen of them declared themselves candidates for president, and another sixteen considered but decided against it, which means at one point over thirty Democrats were picturing themselves in the Oval Office, signing bills and giving orders. I’ve seen no list yet of the Republicans who were thinking about running this year but changed their minds. But if the last four Republicans expected to announce this year do join the herd, they will have officially beat by one candidate the Democrat’s total in 1976, which I believe was the most ever. That was a helluva campaign on the Democratic side, the 1976 nomination race. Fast paced, fluid, full of surprises. The histories–I remember reading two of them, though the titles escape me–read like fast paced novels. The underdog, a peanut farmer named Jimmy Carter, won in a happy ending that made Americans feel warm all over. It was the most exciting election since 1968, the histories of which (An American Melodrama was one) also read like a novel, though a tragic one, full of death and betrayal, the ending just sad. Continue reading