1978 Arkansas gubernatorial election

The Arkansas gubernatorial election of 1978, held on November 7, was the first time that Bill Clinton was elected Governor of Arkansas.

Arkansas gubernatorial election, 1978

← 1976 November 7, 1978 1980 →
  Bill Clinton (37899881792) (cropped2).jpg
Nominee Bill Clinton Lynn Lowe
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 335,101 193,746
Percentage 63.36% 36.64%

Arkansas Governor Election Results by County, 1978.svg
County Results

Clinton:      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%

Lowe:      50–60%      60–70%

Governor before election

David Pryor

Elected Governor

Bill Clinton


Democratic primaryEdit

At this time, one gubernatorial term was two years. Incumbent two-term Democratic Governor David Pryor decided to not seek re-election in order to run for the United States Senate, as his predecessor and future Senate colleague Dale Bumpers did.[1]



Clinton, a former assistant to U.S. Senator J. William Fulbright and since 1977 the state Attorney General, won the nomination easily.

Democratic primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bill Clinton 341,118 59.55
Democratic Joe Woodward 123,674 21.59
Democratic Frank Lady II 76,026 13.27
Democratic Randall Mathis 26,096 4.56
Democratic Monroe Schwarzlose 5,898 1.03
Total votes 572,809 100.00

Republican nominationEdit

A. Lynn Lowe, a Texarkana farmer, who served as state Republican Party chairman from 1974–1980, was unopposed for the 1978 gubernatorial nomination. He had also been the Republican nominee for Arkansas's 4th congressional district seat in 1966.

Election resultEdit

Clinton won easily.[2]

Arkansas gubernatorial election, 1978
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bill Clinton 335,101 63.36
Republican Lynn Lowe 193,746 36.64
Total votes 528,847 100.00

Clinton also led in fundraising. His campaign budget combined $709,234.00 while Lynn's was $171,382.[2]

Clinton, at the age of thirty-two, became the youngest Arkansas governor, the youngest governor in the United States since Harold E. Stassen won in Minnesota in 1938 at the age of thirty-one, and the youngest governor in nation at this time. In 1992 he was elected third-youngest U.S. President.

Lowe's total was the highest for a Republican nominee in Arkansas since Winthrop Rockefeller's third term bid in 1970. He carried fourteen out of seventy-five counties, including Miller, Columbia, and Union counties in South Arkansas.