The Populist era in Kansas: a quantitative study of the relationship between economic conditions and voting behavior
Anderson, Alan Don
Galambos, Louis P.
Master of Arts
The discussion of the nature of Populism has centered to a great extent on the question of the Populist's role in the development of a liberal tradition in America. There are, however, some historians, including the author of this paper, who would like to study Populism outside the framework of this controversy. The first step in the new approach was the development of an alternate model of social action. The model chosen suggested that the simple relationship between economic and political behavior assumed by earlier historians of the Populist era was inadequate to explain all aspects of Populism. In order to test these theoretical propositions, a detailed description of the Kansas economic and political systems was prepared from quantitative data on each county. This data supported the traditional concepts of. Populism in some instances; but there were areas in which the older interpretations conflicted with the data. These conflicts arouse primarily from the over-emphasis of the earlier historians on the revolutionary aspect of Populism. The data tended to show that the Populists caused only minor changes in the Kansas political structure and these changes were primarily within the Democratic Party. These results are consistent with the social model developed earlier since it predicted that more than just economic considerations would determine the political behavior of the individual. The analysis shows that a complete picture of the Populists can be obtained only after these other factors have been determined.