State Elections


 “Mrs. Partington Hancock Struggling with the Republican Tide”
  Cartoonist:  Thure de Thulstrup
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   October 30, 1880, p. 693

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon portrays Democratic presidential nominee Winfield Hancock as Mrs. Partington sweeping back the sea. According to newspaper reports, in 1824 an English woman named Mrs. Partington tried to sweep back (or mop up) a torrent of sea-water which a gale was driving into her house. She did not give up until the deepening water forced her to seek shelter on the second story. In 1831 opponents of the Reform Bill in the British House of Lords were compared to Mrs. Partington vainly attempting to sweep back the sea. Variants of the phrase "Dame Partington and her mop" became a metaphor used against those who try to fight progress.

Here, the tidal waves making the old woman's (i.e., the candidate's) efforts futile are the results of the fall state elections in Vermont, Ohio, and Indiana. In the 19th century, fall state elections (see October Elections in Campaigning) were considered a reliable indicator of how the states would vote in the November presidential contest. The Republican presidential candidate, James Garfield of Ohio, would, indeed, capture those states in November, but the results of the election were far closer than this cartoon predicts. Both candidates won 19 states each, with Garfield narrowly edging out Hancock in the popular vote (by 1/10 of a percent) and in the electoral college (by the difference of the New York electoral votes). Indiana was targeted in the campaign by both parties as a "must-win" state, so the Republican victory there was very important. The top-hatted American Eagle is perched on a rock (left), where he watches Hancock's struggle.













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