Why Did the Populist Party Fail?
The Populist Party was also referred to as the People's Party, and the main cause of failure was confusion and discord among the party's own members, with many members favoring fusion with the Democratic Party and others favoring independence. In many ways, the Populist Party defeated itself, although some of the ideals survived. Theodore Roosevelt resurrected many of these ideals and expanded the regulation of corporations.
The Populist Party was fairly successful for a period of time, and many of its ideas have been adopted as law. However, in 1896, when Populists gained control of the Democratic Party and William Jennings Bryan was nominated for election by both the independent Populist Party and the Democrats, it was his eventual defeat that drove many Populists to abandon them for Democratic or Republican ideals.
The silver issue was a major cause of the Populist Party's eventual downfall. Financial problems sent many Americans into panic when the value of silver dropped and then rose due to pressure from miners and farmers. Many people blamed the financial problems of the nation on the silver issue itself, while others blamed political parties. Bryan's election hung on the silver issue, and this was one of the main reasons for his eventual political downfall.