The GOP "Versus" Third Parties


1880 -1928:


Looking at the Presidential elections of 1884 to 1928, one begins to see the consistent pattern of the third party or "other" vote dropping. in precisely those years in which the GOP was the incumbent in the White House, and rising in those years in which the GOP is not the incumbent.

Year         3rd Party Turnout (1)   3rd Party Trend:  Incumbent:	
1884                135,000               Down                   R      
1888                157,000               Up                     D
1892                 14,000               Down                   R
1896                133,106               Up                     D	
1900                 82,000               Down                   R
1904                 19,000               Down                   R 
1908                  4,000               Down                   R    
1912                 30,000               Up                     R
1916                 63,000               Up                     D
1920                300,000               Up                     D	
1924                156,000               Down                   R	
1928                 69,000               Down                   R

Please note that there ls an almost direct correlation between whether the turnout for "splinter" and "other" is down, with whether or not the incumbent is a Republican. The only exception to this, 1912, is perhaps not an exception, since Theodore Roosevelt, the "Bull Moose" Republican, could be accused of being the "real", big-money-funded, politician in that race, while Taft, the ostensible GOP candidate, comes off as a kind of "Third Party" candidate. The third party turnout figure we are referring to does not include the major historical third parties: the Socialists, Prohibitionists, "Bull Moose" Republican, "Progressive Republican" Party (of Robert La Follette), Populist Party of James P. Weaver, and the National Democratic or "Gold Democrat" Party. The only major national party that is included as a third party here is the "Greenback" Party (2) ; otherwise, the votes in this figure are for limited, local, regional,or little-known parties wlich largely disappeared from US politics after one or two elections, or had no consistent issue or platform, a phenomenon usually known as a "splinter" party. It would at least appear that the GOP was able to take advantage of its "newness" as a party during this time and have votes cast for such splinter parties frequently counted as votes for the GOP. It is difficult to to read any other message out of these figures.

(1) (Sources: 1971 Reader's Digest Almanac, 820-23; 1981 Hammond Almanac, 150-63; and 1989 World Almanac, 103).

(2) (William Jennings Bryan in 1896 sort of ''claimed" all money reformers' parties for the Democrats when he "coalesced" with the Populists, so I will assume money reforms were part of the Democrat philosophy even earlier.)


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