Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

D. Jerome Tweton

Second Advisor

Thomas W. Howard

Third Advisor

Douglas C. Munski


As the 1972-1974 election cycle began, Republican incumbent Milton Young, who had served in the U.S. Senate for twenty-seven years, decided to run for another term with realistic confidence in his ability to repeat prior election victories. His initial optimism began to erode as national Republican leaders questioned his ability to defeat his apparent opponent, former North Dakota Governor William L. Guy. Results of public opinion surveys added credibility to the perception of Young's weakness. Guy saw an opportunity to achieve his long-held goal of becoming a U.S. Senator and cautiously laid the groundwork for his campaign. As the two rivals continued their efforts in 1974 and the Watergate scandal reached a crescendo, political observers recognized that a basic realignment of political party dominance could occur when, as seemed most likely, Guy defeated Young. When statewide Democratic candidates received more votes than Republicans for the first time in the history of North Dakota primary elections and Guy's lead in the polls held steady, it appeared that Young would not be able to reverse the tide running against him.

The reasons for the eventual reelection of Milton Young can be most effectively determined by recounting the events of the 1974 U.S. Senate election chronologically rather than by tracing subjects or issues, and doing so with each candidate separately. The campaign, devoid of public policy discussion by either candidate, focused on Young's age and congressional seniority. Robert McCarney, a maverick Republican, ran in the Democratic primary, and James Jungroth, a former Democratic legislator and state chairman, ran as an Independent candidate in the general election; both these candidates did so not because of substantive beliefs concerning issues but because they disliked Guy.

Young won the election in part because Jungroth took votes away from Guy. Guy lost because he did not accurately perceive the effect of the McCarney challenge, the damage of the financial support that he had accepted from a national lobbying group, and the damage caused by his very cool relationship with North Dakota's Democratic U.S. Senator, Quentin Burdick. Because the outcome of the general election placed Young over Guy by just 177 votes (less than .005 percent difference between them), Guy took advantage of North Dakota law and requested a recount. During the period of the recount, Young and Guy developed an attitude that the winner would be decided by the process. However, the recount was only the final review of the general election results and the winner had been selected by the voters on election day.