To repeat here was the popular and electoral vote. Two cases presented.
Reagen-50.8% of the popular vote; 44 states; 489 electoral votes or 90.9% of the total.
Carter-41.0% of the popular vote; six states and Washington, DC; 49 electoral votes or 9.1% of the total
Anderson-6.1 % of the popular vote
Other-2.1% of the popular vote
Ronald Reagen won 19 states with 235 electoral votes by less than 50% of the total votes in each. Since John Anderson, an independent Republican, had a liberal plank. His candidacy reflected a dissatisfaction with the rightward drift of both parties. Each approach shown below is after the last minute shift due to the hostage situation.
Method #1. Give all 19 states to President Carter. I assume discontented liberals stay with the Democrats. Carter wins! This may be unlikely but it is not unreasonable.
Carter -25 states & DC with 284 electoral votes.
Reagen-25 states with 254 votes.
Method #2. Jimmy Carter had a big Southern base in 1976. Minus Virginia, Carter took every state in both the Border and Deep South. Even so, let’s assume RR takes all of these states and Carter took all the rest.
Total Deep South…24
Total Border South…38
Reagen with more than 50%…25 states with 254 Electoral Votes.
Add Southern states to Reagen with less than 50% of the popular vote…7 States with 62 Electoral votes.
Total for Reagen…32 states with 316 Electoral Votes-Reagen Wins
Carter won Six states and DC…49 Electoral Votes
Carter won states out of the South where Reagen had less than 50% of the popular Vote…12 states with 173 Electoral Votes
Total for 18 states with 222 Electoral Votes-Carter loses.