Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion: Aftermath
With the election drawing near, the outcome was far from certain but probably tilting in Blaine's favor. Despite the scandals and the defection of the Mugwumps, Blaine retained enough support for the Republican party to maintain its grip on the White House. However, an "October surprise" probably proved his undoing. With New York hanging in the balance, Blaine attended a reception in New York City hosted by Protestant ministers on Oct. 29. There, the Rev. Samuel D. Burchard of the Murray Hill Presbyterian Church pledged that he and others like him "don't propose to ... identify outselves with the party whose antecedents have been rum, Romanism, and rebellion." The attack on Roman Catholicism was devasting. Either Blaine didn't hear the remarks or decided to ignore them. But a reporter did hear, and soon the news was printed in newspapers and distributed on handbills across the country.
The election was extremely close. Cleveland won the popular vote by 23,000 out of almost 10 million votes cast. The electoral college vote 219 to 182. New York state went to Cleveland by only 1,149 votes. Had Blaine won New York, he would have been President. Although the presence of third party candidates and Mugwump defections played a role, the election conceivably turned on the lost Catholic and Irish-American vote. "Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion" did its work.
In June 1886 the bachelor Cleveland married 21-year-old Frances Folsom. He was the only President married in the White House, bringing a happy ending to his dometic life and inspiring sheet music publishers around the country.