Talk:United States presidential election, 1896

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Please see Wikipedia:Style for U.S. presidential election, yyyy for standards for all "U.S. presidential election, yyyy" pages.

How Can We Make Palmer's Picture Bar Gold?[edit]

The color code for Gold is #FFD700. Can someone please make his Picture Bar Gold instead of white? The Gold Democrats need to be prominently mentioned because Bryan could have won if the Gold Democrats had not abandoned him. Also, the National Democrats truly represented the Democratic Party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland. --Tilden76 (talk) 21:21, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

Actually, even if Bryan had gotten all of the Gold Democrat votes it would not have won him the election - they received only a tiny fraction of the national vote, and cost Bryan the electoral votes of only one state - Kentucky. Again, the Populists were the far larger and more important political party in 1896, not the Gold Democrats. As for the claim that the Gold Democrats "truly represented" the Democratic Party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland, that may be true, but it still doesn't justify having a section on them that is far longer than the sections on the Populists, Democrats, and Republicans. The Gold Democrats deserve mentioning; whether they deserve as much space as they've gotten, given their small national vote and negligible influence on the future of the Democratic Party, is open to question. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:47, 19 June 2011 (UTC)

National (Gold) Democrats - Edit This Section![edit]

IMO, the section on the National, or Gold, Democrats is far too long given their relative insignificance to the overall election. Their section is longer than either the Republican or Democratic Party nominating sections, and it is far longer than the section on the Populists, who were a much larger and far more important third-party in 1896 than the Gold Democrats. Furthermore, this section reads like someone's senior thesis project, and I wonder if someone has just added in large amounts of trivial information about the Gold Democrats throughout the article. At most the Gold Democrats cost Bryan only one or two states, and they would not have altered the general election outcome. I agree that they need to be mentioned, but in an already-long article describing a complicated election do we really need 6-7 paragraphs on the nominating process for a minor third-party? Just a thought. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:08, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Keep. the Gold Democrats are treated as important by most historians--they had dominated the Dem party until 1896 and remained a powerful force (winning the 1904 nomination). Rjensen (talk) 06:02, 1 August 2010 (UTC)

The Gold Democrats received less than 1% of the total vote in the 1896 election; compared to the Populists their influence on the future of the Democratic Party is negligible. They may have "won" the 1904 nomination, but as most historians (such as Michael Kazin) notes, what is important about the 1896 election is that Bryan and the Populists took long-term control of the Democratic Party, replacing the Gold Democrats. I don't believe the section on the Gold Democrats should be deleted, but I simply find it odd that, in an already-long article, the Gold Democrats receive far more space (6-7 paragraphs) than the more important Populists (less than a full paragraph) or even the Republican and Democratic nominations. I believe the Gold Democrats section could be edited down to a paragraph or two, which would be a more accurate reflection of their influence and would, IMO, improve the overall length and content of the entire article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:55, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

Did Cleveland run or not?[edit]

The entries for Cleveland and Bryan says that Cleveland did seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 1896 but was defeated. Yet here it says that he did not seek the nomination at all. So which is it. Did he or did he not run for the nomination. -- (unsigned contribution by Matthew See 22:44, 15 Mar 2005 (UTC))

Cleveland did not run in 1896. (For example, see [1].) If he had run, he would probably have lost the nomination; the Panic of 1893 and the Elections of 1894 had damaged Cleveland's viability and shifted the Democratic Party away from backers of the gold standard (such as Cleveland) to the bimetallists. — DLJessup 00:02, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)
OK, since I made that last comment, I've done some additional research into Wikipedia, and I'd like to revise my previous posting.
RobLa copied the comment in the Cleveland article about Bryan defeating Cleveland for the nomination from the White House site about three years ago. Interestingly, the White House site now words this differently: "His party deserted him and nominated William Jennings Bryan in 1896."
User:Maveric149 copied the comment in the Bryan article about Bryan defeating Cleveland from [2], and this is an exact quote.
Here are some additional sources, not from Wikipedia:
What generates confusion is that there were few to no primaries in 1896, so that the convention determined entirely who was the presidential nominee. This means that, although Cleveland was apparently a candidate for the nomination, he did no campaigning prior to the convention. (And, after the convention, there was no point to his campaigning.) The pro-silver (or bimetallist) forces controlled the majority of delegates, and so Cleveland was never a serious contender in any of the balloting. Five ballots were taken, and the major contenders were Bryan, Richard Bland, and Horace Boies, all pro-silver. Essentially, the composition of delegates meant that Cleveland's candidacy was D.O.A. and the purpose of the convention was to decide upon a successor.
There. Have I confused things enough? — DLJessup 00:44, 16 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Popular vote sourcing[edit]

Most of the U.S. presidential election, yyyy articles take their PV data from Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. I made the decision to have this article take its PV data from for a few reasons:

  • breaks out how much of Bryan's vote was Democratic and how much was Populist.
  • One would get the idea from Leip's Atlas that Arthur Sewall got 176 EV, just like Bryan did, not that Sewall got part of the 176 EV and his Populist counterpart got the rest.

DLJessup 13:31, 28 July 2005 (UTC)

But what about the write-ins? Toya 11:43, 4 August 2005 (UTC)

Blarg. Toya, I was going to revert your changes. I really don't feel comfortable pulling PV data for a single election from two distinct sources which, where they overlap, disagree, and footnote (a) was there specifically to indicate that there were additional (but negligible) PVs. However, when I tried to write this all up here, I realized that my case was somewhat weak, and I really don't want to start a new edit war without stronger provocation, so I'm going to just switch over to the Dave Leip PV data.

DLJessup 12:40, 5 August 2005 (UTC)

Electoral picture peculiarity[edit]

Why is the graphic depiction of electoral votes skewed? Rarely nowadays does one see democratic votes colored red and and republican votes blue. --maru (talk) Contribs 20:51, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

This post has been copied to Wikipedia talk:Style for U.S. presidential election, yyyy#Electoral picture peculiarity. Please direct your responses there.
DLJessup (talk) 21:41, 15 January 2006 (UTC)

Third parties[edit]

I just wanted to comment on something that I have not seen in print anywhere. The term "national" in a party name in 1896 was used by the minority faction when they nominated their own candidate. The National Democratic Party nominated Sen. John M. Palmer. In several states, such as North Carolina, his Electors were officially the Gold Democratic Party Electors. In contrast, the National Prohibition Party was the silver faction - their nominee Charles E. Bentley ran on the "Silver Prohibition" line in Arkansas. It has intrigued me that the term "national" in 1896 would not be (for example) the gold faction of the party. Chronicler3 12:30, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Cleveland & the Democratic National Convention of 1896[edit]

I would like to add the following to the discussion of President Cleveland's interest in a third term.

1) Richard C. Bain and Judith H. Parris, eds., Convention Decisions and Voting Records (DC: the Brookings Institution, 1973), p. 154 states "Cleveland helped obscure the succession question by avoiding questions about the possibilities of his trying for a third term." The state-by-state breakdown of the roll call votes show that no delegate at the convention voted for Cleveland for President on any ballot.

2) Harold U. Faulkner, Politics, Reform, and Expansion 1890-1900 (NYC: Harper & Row, 1959) lists many potential candidates but never mentions Cleveland as a candidate in 1896.

3) Several of the web pages cited above state that Cleveland was not a candidate in 1896. The Capital Century page emphatically states "Cleveland chose not to run for a third term."

It is certainly true that Cleveland would have received the votes of the New York and New Jersey delegations, which both abstained during the roll call votes, if he had been a candidate.

Other notes. The election page has information on the Democratic convention. Bryan was nominated for President at the Democratic National Convention over Bland, Pattison, Boies, and Blackburn as indicated earlier on the talk page. He was nominated by the Populist National Convention over Norton by a 1,042-321 vote. Ohio Elects the President, pp. 64-65.

As DLJessup stated, the delegates were selected in state conventions. "Florida enacted the first presidential primary law in 1901." Presidential Elections Since 1789 (DC: Congressional Quarterly Press, 1983), p. 9.

Chronicler3 02:00, 28 February 2006 (UTC)

Party Systems sentence[edit]

The issue of the first paragraph seems to be raging right now, mostly over the sentence about the election of 1896 being a realignment election.

To some degree, I would argue that the realignment started in 1894 and was only strengthened in 1896. I would like to see the sentence retained. Would it be better to move it to a point later in the paragraph instead? The current last sentence in the paragraph sets the stage for the sentence. I don't have strong feelings either way, except that I would like to see the discussion here rather than on the watchlist. Chronicler3 00:38, 3 January 2007 (UTC)

Modern citation needed[edit]

A citation is needed at William_McKinley#Presidency_1897-1901 for one of this article's topics: "William McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan in the U.S. Presidential election of 1896, in what is considered the forerunner of modern political campaigning." (SEWilco 05:06, 4 March 2007 (UTC))


The map needs tweaking. California gave 1 vote to Bryan. There's a numeral showing that, but since there isn't any color indication, as there is on other maps like this, it's confusing.

I'd also like to see a state breakdown of which electoral votes were for the Democratic ticket and which were for the Populist. It's particularly relevant today, as people are claiming that Nebraska has split its electoral votes for the first time, which is true only if you consider the top of the ticket alone. Also, I think it's worth showing that the Populist Party wasn't just a one-term phenomenon as a third party, but that it drew significant votes in two consecutive elections.

It would be a design challenge, but perhaps someone could devise a way to show the Populist vote on the map while still making it visually clear that both parties nominated Bryan. In the meanwhile, I'll try to add the information as a paragraph in the text of the article somewhere. Iglew (talk) 06:40, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Electoral map[edit]

Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, N. Carolina, S. Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming should be colored GREEN (in keeping with the 1892 map's Populist denominator) on the map, and be re-labelled as having voted for Bryan/Watson. (The other Bryan states should remain listed as votes for Bryan/Sewall.) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Two-face Jackie (talkcontribs) 02:38, 2 March 2009 (UTC)

Incorrect votes on map[edit]

Maine should have 6 votes, not 8; South Carolina should have 9 votes not 8; as per US archives - see link in article - MrMingsz (talk) 07:19, 11 April 2009 (UTC)

Better photo of Bryan?[edit]

A recent edit replaced Image:William-Jennings-Bryan-speaking-c1896.jpeg with Image:WilliamJenningsBryan.png with the edit summary "Better picture of Bryan from 1896." I don't see why the latter image is better: the former image is much higher resolution (1,931×2,854 versus 152×204 pixels) and it conveys much better what Bryan looked like in action. What's better about the latter image? Here they are, side by side, if that helps:


Eubulides (talk) 08:04, 1 September 2009 (UTC)

After the above comment was made, an editor installed several different versions of photos of Bryan, eventually reverting back to the image on the right, without any discussion. Shouldn't all this be discussed? Eubulides (talk) 05:42, 2 September 2009 (UTC)
And now I see that a 1902 photo (Image:WilliamJBryan1902.png) has been used instead. What's wrong with using a decent 1896 photo? Bryan's looks had definitely changed by 1902. Anyway, I put Image:William-Jennings-Bryan-speaking-c1896.jpeg into the The Fall Campaign section, to illustrate the comment that it already had about "Bryan's imposing voice and height made a deep impression on many who thronged to hear him." Eubulides (talk) 05:02, 3 September 2009 (UTC)

Democratic nomination - Bryan's margin of victory[edit]

What justification is there for the statement "he [Bryan] defeated his closest competitor ... [Bland] by a 3 to 1 margin"? The data in the vote tally table has him ahead by a nearly 60 to 1 margin on the final ballot; in the initial ballot he was behind by about 2 to 3; and there was never a ballot on which Bryan was ahead of Bland by a factor of 3 to 1. Also, Bland wasn't the closest competitor in the final ballot, that would have been Pattison, and Bryan was ahead of Pattison by about 13 to 2 at that point. (talk) 04:08, 23 April 2010 (UTC)


It says "Adjusted for inflation, this is equivalent to $3 billion today.[3]" with [3] being "^ See Paul Krugman. Conscience of a Liberal. page 23" I don't have this book, nor the means to buy it, but 3,000,000,000 is significantly different than what a simple inflation calculator would tell you, based on the any of the US governments own figures from 1896 to 2010 it would be about $90mn to $110mn, does anyone have the book to see how this large discrepancy is explained? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:46, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. There's no way $3.5 million in 1896 dollars is $3 billion today. Maybe they mean as a percentage of GDP? Binarybits (talk) 13:13, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
Found the citation. It is indeed a percentage of GDP. Binarybits (talk) 13:15, 2 October 2011 (UTC)
The article also says George Hearst was a campaign contributor, but he died in 1891? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:58, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

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The map on the wikibox has an error. It states Maine has 8 EV, while in actuality it only had 6 EV. (talk) 15:46, 14 February 2016 (UTC)

"Although the Populist ticket did not win the popular vote in any state, 27 electors for Bryan cast their vice-presidential vote for Watson instead of Sewall."[edit]

This line

Although the Populist ticket did not win the popular vote in any state, 27 electors for Bryan cast their vice-presidential vote for Watson instead of Sewall.

seems to look at things from an opposite direction of

The People’s Party won 31 electoral votes but four of those electors voted with the Democratic ticket, supporting Bryan as president and Sewall as vice president.

The top of the article currently presents only two parties (two blocs of elector votes, two colors, etc). This seems to be contradicted by what Fairvote says. Did the People's Party (or the "populist ticket" as we seem to call it) carry any states or not? Did those 27 electors get elected as People's Party electors (as opposed to Dem) or not?

Assuming Fairvote isn't wrong, we need to repaint the electorate map to show three colors, even though there's still only two presidential candidates. Two shades of blue, perhaps? CapnZapp (talk) 13:14, 15 November 2016 (UTC)