The election of 1884 was rooted in the character traits, both good and bad, of the candidates.
Cleveland stood for changing politics, making it less corrupt. He had previously made a name for himself by taking on corrupt businesses and political groups. His opponent had the opposite record, finding himself in political scandals. Cleveland’s personal life was not so glamorous, and his possible fathering of an illegitimate son became the focus of the Republican campaign.
In the end, Cleveland won by a very small margin. Americans agreed with the Democrats. They voted for the candidate with the clean public reputation over the candidate with the clean personal reputation.