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Dale’s Daily Data: Truman Defeats Dewey

It was back when newspapers were king.  Everybody got their news from the newspaper and this turned out to be one of the biggest goofs in history. The Chicago Tribune – one of the biggest newspapers in the country splashed on their front page in big headlines – “Dewey Defeats Truman.”  It seemed like a sure bet.  Most of the newspapers in the country had predicted that New York Governor Thomas Dewey would beat incumbent President Harry Truman.

The New York Times had written that “if Truman is nominated, he will be forced to wage the loneliest campaign in recent history.”

Well, Truman was nominated and because so many newspapers seemed to be against him he didn’t use the papers to get his message out.  He went directly to the people.  Starting in July of 1948 he took to the rails and roads on a 22-thousand mile “whistle stop” campaign tour across the country.  At every stop he made he asked the crowds to help him keep his job as president.  At the end of one speech he made somebody yelled “Give ‘em Hell, Harry” and it became a campaign slogan.  While Dewey sent his message out thru the papers – Truman interacted with the American public and even though he was the sitting president, he was the underdog.  The voters liked him though and kept him in the White House.

It was the morning after Truman defeated Dewey by 114 electoral votes in 1948 that famous picture was snapped of Truman holding a copy of the Chicago Tribune.

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