The following module depicts a major transition in American politics from the post-Civil War pattern of close competition to the early twentieth-century pattern of Republican dominance. Prior to 1896, five consecutive presidents were elected with a minority of the popular vote. The presidency alternated between Republicans and Democrats, as both parties not only faced each other nationwide, but also tried to protect themselves from various protest parties at the state and local levels. The People's Party, or Populists, eventually emerged as the most significant protest party; in 1892, their presidential candidate gained over 8.6% of the popular vote and 22 electoral votes. Four years later, however, the Republican presidential candidate won a clear majority and launched what would become thirty-six years of Republican presidents, all elected with a majority of the popular vote. Only Woodrow Wilson, elected twice with minorities of the popular vote, interrupted that long pattern.

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