This double-page cartoon was published in Harper’s Weekly between the time that Republicans and Democrats met in national conventions. Mounted on a huge Republican Elephant is the already-nominated Theodore Roosevelt, dressed in his Rough Rider uniform from the Spanish-American War. He smiles confidently, although the elephant looks down in alarm at the commotion stirred by the Democrats. The Democratic Donkey bucks as the conservatives (left) and progressives (right) try to grasp its reins and add a rider. William Jennings Bryan attempts to control the beast for his jockey, William Randolph Hearst. Jockey Alton B. Parker, the eventual nominee, is aided by his team, campaign treasurer August Belmont Jr. (who managed the Belmont Stakes horserace, established by his father) and campaign manager David B. Hill.
In the left background is a third jockey, Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. of New York City, whose assistant is Charles F. Murphy, the boss of the Tammany Hall political machine, who wears tiger-striped livery. A former congressman (1895-1903), McClellan had been mayor for only a few months when this cartoon was published. Nevertheless, New York newspapers had mentioned him as a potential presidential nominee in 1904. However, his youth (38 years old), lack of national stature, and association (which he later broke) with Tammany Hall limited his appeal. He was the son of George B. McClellan Sr., the Union general and 1864 Democratic presidential nominee.
On the right, General Nelson A. Miles sits atop a turtle representing the Prohibition Party. Miles had been the military commander of the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War. He had been mentioned in the press first as a possible Democratic presidential candidate and then as the presumptive nominee of the Prohibition Party. However, the Prohibition nomination went to Silas Swallow, a Methodist minister. That small, third party had never received more than 2.3 % of the national vote (in 1892), but had played an important and perhaps decisive role in the close presidential election of 1884. In 1904, the Prohibition Party collected 1.9% of the national total.
Note that in the stands, the business trusts are depicted as aligned with both major political parties.