Common man’s champ was successful this time
In 1896, the Democratic presidential candidate, William Jennings Bryan, was a former liberal congressman. He was an accomplished orator who gave more than 500 speeches in traveling thousands of miles by train across the country. He was the candidate for the common man.
Unfortunately, the Democratic Party had controlled the White House the prior four years and was blamed for the economic depression beginning in 1893. In addition, the three top industrialists, Andrew Carnegie, John Rockefeller and J.P. Morgan, each worth hundreds of billions of dollars in today’s economy, picked and backed the Republican Party’s candidate, William McKinley. Those three gentlemen employed hundreds of thousands of people in the steel, oil, banking and electricity fields. Those heavyweights used their wealth and businesses to besmirch Bryan and pressure workers to vote for McKinley. These two reasons were partly responsible for Bryan’s loss, but there were other ones that didn’t involve money.
The real beginning of the middle class didn’t start until the automotive industry began after the Model T was introduced in 1908. Workers in the mid-1890s worked in steel, kerosene and other factories for low wages and deplorable working conditions with long hours. In addition, many of these people were not well educated and were easily influenced. What these workers did not have were the unions that started to become better organized in the 20th century. Of course these unions became highly Democratic.
President Obama won due to having wealthy contributors, the unionized states as well as informed, educated women and a different color populous.