The election of 1948 had a lot in common with 2016. It was CLOSE. All kinds of results from polls. Day after election the Chicago Tribune (probably the second biggest newspaper in the United States) ran with a Dewey victory! The single most famous newspaper error…..ever.
Harry Truman was not popular. He had taken over the Presidency when popular President FDR died. Truman ended up making the most important decision in the history of the United States: to drop the Atomic Bomb on Japan.
Thomas E Dewey was the Governor of New York and was relatively unknown throughout the country. Dewey had “made his mark” as New York City District Attorney in successfully prosecuting “The Mob”.
I trust Presidential polls as far as I can throw them. They are only as good as the people who participate in them. I have never been asked to participate in a Presidential poll AND I AM NOT ALONE.
Finally a story about Dewey. In 1948, Presidential Candidates did not rate Secret Service protection. (Not until 1968 when candidate Robert Kennedy was assassinated).
I was on a train from Utica, New York to New York City in 1948 near the election. Our train stopped at Albany Union Station. We looked out the window and saw Governor Thomas E Dewey on the platform headed for OUR TRAIN. He was accompanied by just a single New York State Trooper (in uniform and armed with his service revolver).
Now I thought in 1948 that the New York State Troopers were great and could do anything. My grandfather (at that time Paymaster of the NY Central System) joked that Dewey should have ridden in a “Pay Car”. A Pay Car had a railroad detective and two armed paymasters). Of course, by 1948 all the pay cars had gone to scrap and the whole system was paid by check from Utica (the reason I was born in Utica).
Written by Ken Kinlock