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Key Battleground: Indiana and New York
Most observers expected the presidential election in November to be close, with the results to be decided in two swing states with a large number of electoral votes: New York's 35 was the most numerous, and Indiana's 15 was the fifth most numerous.

Like many states, Indiana held state elections in October (see "October Elections" in Campaigning). Both parties pulled out all the stops in order to generate enthusiasm for their candidates through massive amounts of money, entertaining events (see "Politics as Entertainment" in Campaigning), party speakers, and vote fraud. The Democrats, though, were burdened with two unpopular candidates: vice-presidential nominee William English and gubernatorial nominee Franklin Landers. Republicans mainly avoided the issues, except to use Hancock's remark about the tariff as a local issue to portray the Democrats as unconcerned for the average worker and American business. Even though Democrats had won every state election in Indiana since 1870, the better-organized Republicans were able to win by a small margin in 1880.

Attention then turned to New York. Unlike William English's dismal reception in his home state of Indiana, Republican vice-presidential nominee Chester Arthur played a valuable role in the New York and general elections. He served as chairman of the Republican state committee in New York, organized numerous campaign rallies and meetings, insisted that patronage workers contribute three percent of their salaries to the party's campaign funds, secretly solicited donations from prominent New York businessmen for the Indiana battleground, and directed Grant and Conkling on campaign tours through Ohio and Indiana. Both parties in New York were bitterly divided, but the Republicans were able to repair their breech for this campaign when Garfield insisted that he would heed the needs of New York Republicans, particularly the sensitive Senator Conkling. Hancock unwisely left the management of the election in New York to Samuel Tilden and John Kelly, whose feud provoked Kelly to make decisions that hurt the chances of the national Democratic ticket. The Republicans therefore carried the state in November, and thus the presidential election.

Election Results
In November, Garfield edged by Hancock in the popular count by only one-tenth of a percent, 48.3% to 48.2%, and 214-155 in the electoral college, the difference of New York's 35 electoral votes. Each man won an electoral majority in 19 states. To the detriment of black Americans, the election result showed that Republicans could win the White House without the South. Hancock won the South, the border states, New Jersey, California, and Nevada; Garfield was victorious in the rest of the North and West. The Republicans also recaptured both houses of Congress by narrow margins. The Prohibitionist party's totals were negligible. The Greenback-Labor party collected 3.4% of the vote, playing the spoiler in California, Indiana, and New Jersey. Still, blame for the Democratic defeat rested within their own party: a more energetic candidate, combined with better party organization and cooperation, especially in New York, could have led to victory.

Sources consulted:  William A. DeGregario, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents; Leonard Dinnerstein, "Election of 1880," in Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., American Political Elections; Justus Doenecke, The Presidencies of James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur; David M. Jordon, Roscoe Conkling of New York.

 
 
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