The Washington Post has a Style section feature on the 1892 Populist presidential campaign of James B. Weaver, who that year became the first U.S. presidential candidate to mount a modern-style campaign tour of the nation rather than a limited or “front porch” campaign.
The Post says Weaver’s “campaign proved stunningly successful; for the first time since 1860, a third party won electoral votes. He carried Kansas, Colorado, Nevada and Idaho and won additional electoral votes in Oregon and North Dakota. Despite the intensely negative campaign against him by Southern Democrats, he received 36 percent of the vote in Alabama and 23 percent in Texas. Overall, it was a vast improvement over the dismal third-party showings of the 1880s. … After 1892, the major parties began to adopt the general’s campaign tactics. Four years later, William Jennings Bryan emulated Weaver with a whistle-stop campaign in which he traveled 18,000 miles, and the Democrat hit the campaign trail when he ran again in 1900 and 1908. In 1900, Republicans selected a hero of the Spanish-American War as President William McKinley’s running mate. Theodore Roosevelt proved to be as indefatigable a campaigner as Bryan.”