Election results by county
|Elections in Arkansas|
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. 
- Bill Clinton, Attorney General
- Frank Lady II, former State Representative and candidate for Governor in 1976
- Randall Mathis, Clark County Judge
- Monroe Schwarzlose, turkey farmer
- Joe Woodward, Seventh Circuit Prosecuting Attorney
|Democratic||Frank Lady II||76,026||13.27|
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.
Clinton won easily. 
Clinton also led in fundraising. His campaign budget combined $709,234.00 while Lynn's was $171,382. 
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.