The political landscape was full of corruption.
Despite the corruption in the political landscape, elections were quite interesting. Parties were pretty evenly matched and voter turnout was very high. (Something it hasn’t always been.) Some of the issues included prohibition, tariffs, length of work days, child labor, and woman’s suffrage. (Also, the South was still understandably bitter about , and voted Democrat.)
Back to the political corruption, many businesses did not want the government to regulate their activities, thus serving the rich and allowing corruption and bribery to become commonplace. Consider the Crédit Mobilier of America scandal, in which several stockholders of the Union Pacific Railroad hired themselves to build the railroad line, (thus making money) paying off influential congressman along the way. The company essentially overcharged the U.P. so they could make money for themselves and the congressmen.