The Politics of Righteousness: Political Dynamics of the Third Electoral System
Iowa will go Democratic when hell goes Methodist.
Jonathan P. Dolliver ( 1883)
It is safe to assume that the Methodists never polled a majority among Satan's minions, but the Democrats captured a plurality of Iowa's vote in 1889. When Iowa fell to the Democracy, it was part of a large voter shift that extended eastward to the Atlantic. However, geographically separate streams of behavioral forces convulsed the electoral universe in the early 1890s. While the third party system's cleavage lines were being repaired and sharpened in Iowa and eastward, the unmistakable symptoms of systemic breakup were visible to the west. This admixture of reinstatement and disintegration underlay the large partisan shifts in mass political behavior between 1888 and 1892.
The tight partisan balance that had typified most of the stable phase of the third party system gave way in 1890 to a surging Democratic majority. The Democrats polled 51.9 percent of the total vote cast, elected 70.7 percent of the members of the Fifty-second House. won nine of fifteen nonsouthern gubernatorial races, and gained percentage strength (compared with 1888) in twenty-one of the twenty-six states beyond the Confederacy.1 Both the size and amplitude of the Democratic victory were impressive (see Table 8.1).