The Republican presidential and vice-presidential candidates, McKinley and Hobart, won a sweeping victory in the electoral college, with 271 electoral votes to Bryan's 176. The popular vote was much closer: 7,102,246 to 6,492,559. Most of the votes cast for Bryan were Silver Democratic, and endorsed Sewall rather than Watson.
The Gold Democratic and Prohibition tickets did not win any electoral votes.
National maps of the support for McKinley and Bryan, and a state-by-state breakdown of votes are below.
Historians have seen 1896 as a "realigning election," though it confirmed results that had already been apparent in the 1894 congressional races: by 1897, Republicans had won sweeping control of the White House and both houses of Congress. The 1896 election showed a sharp differentiation between voters in the economic "metropole"--the Northeast and industrial areas--and those in the "periphery"--the South and West. Most historians believe this disagreement stemmed from different reactions to the massive depression, though voters' loyalties reflected a mix of racial attitudes, memories of the Civil War, and other motivations. It is possible to show how men (and a few women) voted, but impossible to prove with certainty why each individual voted as he did.
William McKinley was inaugurated on March 4, 1897, as the 25th president of the United States. His inaugural address promised solutions to the nation's economic woes--and he was lucky enough to preside over an economic recovery during the years of his first term. Thus, it was even more difficult by 1900 for Democrats and a few Populists to claim that Republican policies spelled the nation's economic doom.
McKinley and Hobart.
A LAND-SLIDE FOR REPUBLICAN PRINCIPLES.
The Republicans of this county were well organized and repaired to the polls early Tuesday morning.... There were many pleasing incidents around the polls. Besides the quietness of the large crowd and the good nature prevailed, the unusual thing of many Democrats voting the straight Republican ticket was seen, all of which go to show that the white citizens are ridding themselves of their prejudice and are allowing common sense and good judgment to rule their actions.
About a half dozen colored men were around the polls working for the Democrats. This work was to no avail. They were hooted and jeered and had to keep very quiet. In all not ten colored men were traitorous enough to vote against the Republican candidates. The colored Republicans remained true to their colors and voted solidly for the party of freedom.
--Savannah Tribune (African-American), November 7
ON THIS APPEAL WAS HE ELECTED.
Fellow Citizens: We the people of the United States are not now in a state of prosperity. Furnaces have blown out, mills and factories shut down, merchants and traders are bankrupt, millions are out of work and have no means of livelihood. Poverty and misery prevail in the land.
The cause is distrust. Moneyed men have lost confidence. There can be no prosperity for you until confidence is restored. Capitalists must be confident that they see a chance to make money. You are completely in their power. You can do nothing without capital. When capitalists find it in their interest they will give you prosperity. Capitalists are the masters in this land, the arbiters of your fate.... These, your masters, demand two thinks of you as the condition of allowing you to enjoy prosperity: First--Sound money; that is, money which is scarce and dear, of high purchasing power.
Second--Protection; that you buy your goods of them and give up your right to buy in any market which they do not control.
... Elect me! I will see that their demands are met. I WILL OPEN THE MILLS! Money shall be scarce and dear, and you shall buy only of them. I have no doubt that this will conciliate them and that they will allow you to have prosperity.
On This Appeal He Was Elected
Twenty-fifth President of the United States.
IS THIS A NATION OF SLAVES?
--The Coming Nation, December 12, 1896
from Inter Ocean, Chicago, 4 November 1896.
McKINLEY AND HOBART WIN.
A Magnificent Victory for the Republican Ticket
and the National Honor.
New York Puts Up a Wonderful Majority of Three Hundred Thousand, and Illinois is Well in Front.
GREAT GAINS MADE IN SOUTHERN AND WESTERN STATES.
--Los Angeles Times, November 4
BRYAN BELIEVED TO HAVE WON.
Intense Excitement in New York City Early This Morning.
Exaggerated Hanna Claims Part of a Scheme to Steal the Election.
At 5:30 This Morning Chairman Jones Insists that Bryan Has Been Successful.
Mr. Bryan leads in the electoral college. While there are still thirty-six votes in doubt, The News believes that the final returns may give him a majority of the electoral votes....
--Rocky Mountain News, November 4
To all unprejudiced and manly men, regardless of party, I submit the statement that never before has any party, so badly needed as ours, been so badly treated.... A reform party has no right to exist if it has no valid complaint to make. Populists cannot denounce the sins of the two old parties, and yet go into political coparternership with them.... If we represent nothing but a contest of the "outs" against the "ins," we are a lot of humbugs, parading as reformers.... By listening to the overtures of the Democratic managers our party has been torn into factions, our leaders deceived and ensnared, and the cause we represent permanently endangered, if not lost. The labor of many years is swept away, and the hopes of thousands of good people are gone with it.
--People's Party Paper, November 13
It is to be hoped that those persons who have objected to equal suffrage on the ground that women were "too excitable: have been following the incidents of the presidential campaign just closed. The "storm centre" was in the doubtful States, but even in the comparatively quiet East a number of men have committed suicide or gone insane in consequence of political excitement. The Boston Globe cites a series of cases. In Philadelphia, for instance, a tailor, believing that the "gold bugs" were pursuing him, ended his life with a carving-knife. In Brooklyn an unemployed man, becoming convinced that there would be no work for him unless McKinley should be elected, and that Bryan was likely to win, shot himself.... A Populist leader at Rome, Ga., has been immured in an asylum, while a Kentucky convict has gone raving mad under the hallucination that his services were imperatively needed on the stump. At least six fatal or serious shooting affrays marked the State election in Georgia, and in Kentucky, West Virginia, Missouri and elsewhere, murders have occured at political meetings....
But from the three States where women voted for President this week, it is not reported that any woman has gone insane through political excitement, or has committed suicide, or has drawn a bowie knife or revolver upon a political opponent. After women had had full suffrage for ten years in Wyoming, the census reported that in all Wyoming there were only three lunatics, and those three were all of them men.
--A.S.B. [Alice Stone Blackwell], Woman's Journal, November 7, 1896