Republican challenger James G. Blaine had ridden a wave of growing discontent in the population to national prominence.
Although every president since 1864 had shown a great deal of deference to the Confederate States, Tilden went too far when he removed the 12 stars representing the former southern states from the U.S. flag.
Blaine's campaign tapped into the discontent of the people of the U.S., campaigning heavily on an anti-Confederate platform.
Given the frustration of the electorate, Blaine didn't have to campaign very hard. Blaine's election heartened the U.S., but panicked the C.S., who'd grown used to compliant U.S. presidents. When the C.S. went ahead with its plan to purchase the states of Sonora and Chihuahua from the Empire of Mexico, Blaine sought and received a declaration of war. The Second Mexican War saw the defeat of the U.S. once again at the hands of the C.S., and doomed the Republican Party to irrelevance.
1880 saw the Republican Party continue its electoral dominance with the election of James Garfield of Ohio and Chester Alan Arthur of New York. In an attempt to defeat the GOPS's tactic of "waving the bloody shirt", the Democrats had nominated Winfield Scott Hancock, a hero of the Battle of Gettysburg.
The nomination of Hancock backfired. While it did allow the party to outflank the bloody-shirt wavers, Hancock was the most inexperienced and unqualified presidential candidate to be nominated at that point in the country's history up until 2016. He had never held elected office, nor had he held any appointed political offices on either the federal or the state level. In 2016, the Republicans broke Hancock's record for lack of qualifications by nominating the even more undeserving Donald Trump, who in addition to having never served in the government, has never served in the military.
Neither Samuel J. Tilden nor James G. Blaine were involved in the 1880 election. Blaine ran in 1884 and lost to Grover Cleveland, while Tilden ran in 1876 and lost to Rutherford B. Hayes. Tilden also ran, and won, in the 1876 election in Southern Victory.