November 2, 1948
THE BATTLE FOR THE PRESIDENCY WAS UPHILL ALL THE WAY. Overconfident
in his ability to win, Republican Thomas E. Dewey ran a restrained campaign.
Seeking to avoid controversy in his second bid for the White House, Dewey
did not rebut Truman's attacks on the Republican Congress. He campaigned,
instead, on bringing "statesmanship to the White House." Despite
his bland speeches and vague promises, political polls still favored the
reserved Dewey, even though Truman's forceful, boisterous, whistle-stop
campaign drew larger and larger crowds. Truman's refusal to give up in the
face of incredible odds struck a chord with many voters.
Elmo Roper [national pollster] quit taking
samples on September 9, with the comment that only a political convulsion
could prevent Dewey from winning. On election eve, he said, "I
stand by my prediction. Dewey is in."
Returns were not
clear until the following morning at 9:30 when the Ohio vote came
in; after a sudden chatter of teletypes, radio announcers across the
nation grabbed their microphones to proclaim, in near hysteria: "Ohio
has gone Democratic! This puts Truman over the top.
and gentlemen, President Truman has won the election."
(Ferrell, Robert H. Harry S. Truman: A Life. Columbia [Mo.]: University
of Missouri Press, 1994. Pages 280, 281)
Despite overwhelming odds and political pundits, Truman led a Democratic
sweep on November 2, 1948. By a popular vote of 24.1 million to 21.9 million,
Truman forced Dewey to concede defeat; control of Congress was resoundingly
returned to the Democratic Party. Truman had pulled off the biggest upset
in American political history.