Benjamin Harrison, the sitting president, did not enjoy the Republican Party's unified backing at the convention in 1892. The president had offended the political bosses by his forays into civil service reform as well as a large segment of the general public by his staunch support of the McKinley Tariff. Even Harrison's cabinet found his personality icy and unappealing. Despite support for rivals James G. Blaine and William McKinley, Harrison managed to secure renomination on the first ballot.
The Democrats turned again to Grover Cleveland, victor in 1884 and loser in 1888. The nominee, like his opponent, did not lead a unified party; southern and western elements agitated for support of silver programs, but did not prevail. The primary plank in the democratic platform called for the enactment of a tariff for revenue only‚~ez_euro~"an obvious reaction to the McKinley Tariff.
A third party, the Populists (or People's) Party, gave its nomination to General James B. Weaver. Its platform called for free and unlimited coinage of silver and government ownership of the railroads. Both of those positions were crafted to appeal to the miners and farmers.
The campaign in 1892 was subdued, due largely to Cleveland's insistence. He respected the fact that Harrison's wife was seriously ill and made a minimum of appearances. Mrs. Harrison died two weeks before the election.
Cleveland was returned to office. He enjoyed solid support in the South and the Swing States, and managed to draw a number of votes from Republicans who were unhappy with Harrison. Weaver and the Populists became the first third party since 1860 to register electoral votes.