Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Mr. Guy Nelson

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Root

Third Advisor

Dr. Jesse L. Nutt, Jr.


The results of the Presidential election of 1948 produced one of the most stunning upsets in the history of elections in the United States. The odds against Harry S. Truman's winning re- election were considerable. As President, he was following one of the outstanding politicians in American history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt .

In April of 1948, disaffected New Dealers and many city political bosses, feeling that Truman could not win the election, attempted to convince first General Dwight D. Eisenhower and then Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas to run for President on the Democratic ticket. Up until the time of the Democratic National Convention in July, other influential members of the Democratic Party urged Truman to capitulate in favor of someone else. Political experts of both parties who were supposedly "in the know" were saying that Truman could not possibly be reelected in the November election. During the Democratic Convention, some of the Southern delegates, angered by the civil rights plank established in the Democratic platform, walked out of the convention. Truman's image was by and large that of a well-meaning but bungling President, no better qualified to discharge his duties as Chief of the nation than the average man on the street. Furthermore, his simple, forthright and at times blunt manner alienated him from many of the "powers that be" in the Democratic Party. Thomas E. Dewey, his Republican opponent, was a young and efficient politician who had given Franklin Roosevelt a "run for his money" in the Presidential election of 1944. Henry Wallace had been nominated as a Presidential candidate on the Progressive Party ticket. This party was expected to take most of its votes from the Democrats. All of the major purveyors of predictions said that Truman did not have a chance. Yet in spite of the odds, Truman was re- elected to the Presidency in 1948.

The purpose of this study was two fold. First, an effort was made to analyze all of the pertinent factors that let to victory for Harry Truman and defeat for his major opponent Thomas E. Dewey, in the Presidential election of 1948. Secondly, there was an attempt made to discern why most of the media of prediction, including both amateur and professional forecasters, predicted that Thomas Dewey would win the Presidential election of 1948.



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