1978 Texas gubernatorial election

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Texas gubernatorial election, 1978

← 1974 November 7, 1978 1982 →
  Bill Clements.jpg No image.svg
Nominee Bill Clements John Luke Hill
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 1,183,828 1,166,919
Percentage 50.0% 49.2%

Texas Gubernatorial Election Results by County, 1978.svg
County Results

Clements:      40-50%      50-60%      60-70%      70-80%
Hill:      40–50%      50–60%      60–70%      70–80%      80–90%
Compeán:      50-60%

Governor before election

Dolph Briscoe

Elected Governor

Bill Clements

The 1978 Texas gubernatorial election was held on November 7, 1978 to elect the Governor of Texas. In a surprising upset, Republican Bill Clements was narrowly elected over Democrat State Attorney General John Luke Hill, winning 50% of the vote to Hill's 49%. In doing so, Clements became the first Republican to be elected governor since Reconstruction.

Republican Party[edit]





Republican Primary Results [1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bill Clements 115,345 72.82
Republican Ray Hutchison 38,268 24.16
Republican Clarence Thompson 4,790 3.02
Total votes 158,403 100.00

Democratic Party[edit]

Dolph Briscoe, who had first been elected in 1972 and was easily re-elected in 1974, had become increasingly unpopular within the Texas Democratic Party during his six years in office. John Luke Hill fielded a primary challenge against the Governor, as a liberal alternative to Briscoe, who represented the more conservative, rural faction of the party. Dissatisfaction with Briscoe prompted former Governor Preston Smith to enter the race, running as a populist alternative to the other two candidates. Briscoe had previously defeated Smith in the 1972 primary.




Democratic Primary results
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic John Luke Hill 932,245 52.44%
Democratic Dolph Briscoe 753,309 42.37%
Democratic Preston Smith 92,202 5.19%
Total votes 1,777,756 100


General election results
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Bill Clements 1,183,828 49.96
Democratic John Luke Hill 1,166,919 49.24
Raza Unida Mario C. Compeán 14,213 0.59
Socialist Workers Sara Johnston 4,624 0.19
Total votes 2,369,999 100.00

Further reading[edit]

  • Bridges, Kenneth William. "The twilight of the Texas democrats: The 1978 governor's race", Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Texas, 2003, 281 pages; AAT 3117260 in ProQuest


(1) Bill Clements bio [1]

(2) Gubernatorial Debate on October 24, 1978 at KPRC-TV Studios in Houston [2]

(3) Republican Primary Gubernatorial Debate in 1978 [3]

(4) Gubernatorial Debate on October 27, 1978 at KERA-TV Studios in Dallas [4]