United States presidential election, 1888

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Grover Cleveland

Benjamin Harrison

The 1888 election for President of the United States was held on November 6, 1888. Grover Cleveland of New York, the incumbent President and a Democrat, was running for a second term. Benjamin Harrison, a former U.S. Senator from Indiana, was the Republican nominee.

The tariff was the main issue in the election. Harrison opposed tariff reduction while Cleveland supported it. Cleveland and the Democrats did not wage a strong campaign, Cleveland's attitude toward the spoils system had antagonized party politicians, and his policies on Civil War pensions, the currency, and tariff reform had made enemies among veterans, farmers, and industrialists. Even with these enemies, however, Cleveland earned more popular votes than Harrison. However, Harrison received a larger electoral vote and won the election. This was the third of only four U.S. elections in which the President-elect did not receive a majority or plurality of the popular vote. The first was the 1824 election; the second had been just 12 years earlier in the 1876 election, while the fourth would happen 112 years later in the 2000 election.[1]


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