1896 United States elections
The 1896 United States elections elected the 55th United States Congress. Republicans won control of the Presidency and maintained control of both houses of Congress. The election marked the end of the Third Party System and the start of the Fourth Party System, as Republicans would generally dominate politics until the 1930 elections. Political scientists such as V.O. Key, Jr. argue that this election was a realigning election, while James Reichley argues against this idea on the basis that the Republican victory in this election merely continued the party's post-Civil War dominance. The election took place in the aftermath of the Panic of 1893, and featured a fierce debate between advocates of bimetallism ("free silver") and supporters of the gold standard.
|Presidential election year|
|Election day||November 3|
|Incumbent president||Grover Cleveland (Democratic)|
|Partisan control||Republican Gain|
|Popular vote margin||Republican +4.3%|
|William McKinley (R)||271|
|William Jennings Bryan (D)||176|
|1896 presidential election results. Red denotes states won by McKinley, blue denotes states won by Bryan. Numbers indicate the electoral votes won by each candidate.|
|Overall control||Republican Hold|
|Seats contested||30 of 90 seats|
|Net seat change||Republican +2|
|Overall control||Republican Hold|
|Seats contested||All 357 voting members|
|Net seat change||Democratic +31|
In the Presidential election, Republican former Governor William McKinley of Ohio defeated Democratic former Representative William Jennings Bryan of Nebraska. McKinley took the Republican nomination on the first ballot, while Bryan took the Democratic nomination on the fifth ballot (at age 36, he became youngest presidential nominee of a major party), defeating former Missouri Representative Richard P. Bland and several other candidates. Bryan's Cross of Gold speech, in which he advocated for "free silver," helped deliver him the Democratic nomination, and also attracted the support of the Populist Party and the Silver Republican Party. Though Bryan carried most of the South and the West, McKinley won a comfortable margin in both the electoral college and the popular vote by carrying the Northeast and the Great Lakes region.
Democrats won major gains in the House, but Republicans continued to command a large majority in the chamber. The Populists also won several seats, holding more seats in the House than any third party since the Civil War.
In the Senate, the Republicans maintained their plurality, keeping control of the same number of seats. The Democrats lost several seats, while the Silver Republicans established themselves for the first time with five seats. Republican William P. Frye won election as President pro tempore.
- Not counting special elections.
- Congressional seat gain figures only reflect the results of the regularly-scheduled elections, and do not take special elections into account.
- Reichley, A. James (2000). The Life of the Parties (Paperback ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 8–12.
- "Presidential elections". History.com. History Channel. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
- "1896 Presidential Election". The American Presidency Project. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- "Party Divisions of the House of Representatives". United States House of Representatives. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
- "Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present". United States Senate. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
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