Democratic Party in Grant’s First Term
The election of 1868 was better for the Democrats than they had anticipated. In the presidential contest, Seymour won 47% of the popular vote in a race which Grant was expected to easily win. The party picked up the governorships of NJ and NY in addition to fifteen seats in the U.S. House. Mid-term elections of 1870 brought more good news for the Democrats; they gained 32 seats in the U.S. House, reducing the Republican majority to a 136-103 margin. The press, much of which was affiliated with the Republican Party, ran stories on many poor decisions of President Grant and the Republican Congress. In the South, where the Democratic Party was officially the Conservative Party, Reconstruction was ending one state at a time, returning each state to the Democratic column. The Democratic Party was in an excellent position as the year 1872 opened.
In early 1872, Democratic leaders corresponded with the Liberal Republican Party leaders. The newspapers of the time estimated that the LRP represented about 10% of the entire Republican vote. No one thought that the LRP could win the presidency without support. If the LRP delivered 10% of the Republican voters to the Democratic column, that would mean that the Democrats would pick up AL, CA, CT, IN, MO, PA, and VA – good for 93 electoral votes. That would elect the Democrat by a margin of 189 to 177 for Grant. The opportunity for controlling the White House and Congress led to the