Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Degree Level



Political Science


Williams, Patrick

Committee Member/Reader

Parry, Janine

Committee Member/Second Reader

Pittman, Noah

Committee Member/Third Reader

Williams, Patrick

Committee Member/Fourth Reader

Chapman, Kate


Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller once stood as one of the most prominent figures in the Republican Party, standing as a champion of liberal Republicanism. But from the heights that he achieved with his ascension to the vice presidency, he fell from grace, not being re-nominated for the post alongside President Gerald Ford in 1976. This thesis seeks to explain why this occurred. In explaining this, Rockefeller's previous primary campaigns, vice presidential actions, and ideology are all explored to show the conservative opposition that rallied itself against him. In light of this, Ronald Reagan's challenge of Gerald Ford in 1976 for the Republican nomination for president is shown to be primarily a challenge against Rockefeller. They no longer wanted liberal Republicanism to hold such influence in the party, and throughout the campaign to win the nomination, Ford was made to cede ground to them. The conservatives challenged Rockefeller for the soul of the Republican Party, and they prevailed. Rockefeller was replaced with Bob Dole, his beliefs were repudiated, and Rockefeller himself was thrust to the sidelines. And with Rockefeller experiencing this political death, the liberal Republican ideology he championed died along with him.


Gerald Ford, Republican Party, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Southern Strategy, Ronald Reagan