The Charlotte News

Wednesday, November 3, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, in an obvious error, that President Truman had been elected and that the House and Senate had returned to the Democrats.

Governor Dewey had wired his concession and best wishes to the President at 11:15 a.m. He urged all Americans to unite behind the President in support of efforts to establish peace in the world. He told the press that he was as surprised as anyone at the result and firmly stated that he would not again seek the presidency.

At the time of the concession, the President led in 28 states, with 304 electoral votes, 266 needed to win. Mr. Dewey led in 16 states with 189 electoral votes. The last hope of a Dewey victory vanished when California appeared to go for the President. The victories of the President in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana had earlier clinched the electoral victory. The states in which each candidate was leading are listed.

Four states, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina, with 38 votes, had voted for Governor Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats.

At 1:00 p.m. this date, the President had 20.3 million votes tallied to 18.7 million for Mr. Dewey.

The only difference in the above electoral tally and the final outcome was a single defector Democratic elector from Tennessee who cast his lot with Governor Thurmond instead of the President when the electors met in December in the electoral college. The President's final popular vote was 24,179,347, 49.6 percent, to Governor Dewey's 21,991,292, 45.1 percent. Both former Vice-President Henry Wallace and Governor Thurmond received almost the same total, 1.1 million votes each, albeit Mr. Wallace not carrying any state.

The President, acknowledging the congratulations of Governor Dewey, promised to dedicate himself to the cause of peace in the world and prosperity at home. He commended Mr. Dewey for "fine sportsmanship".

As he left the Hotel Muehlebach in Kansas City, Mo., he was asked whether he could explain the "Truman poll". He said that he could not, that when one wins, one could not say anything about it. He said that he was happy. He referred questions anent the inside poll to his press secretary Charles Ross. At one point the President's voice had cracked with emotion as he was greeted by friends and neighbors. In the evening, he would make a brief address to friends and supporters in Independence. He did not gloat about the red-faced pollsters. In Cleveland the previous week, he had called them "sleeping polls", no accident, designed by the Republican pollsters to keep the voters home on election day.

It was the first time since the Literary Digest straw poll had picked Alf Landon to defeat FDR in 1936—an error which an October 1 editorial in The News had placed in the 1932 election cycle—, that polling had been so in error. George Gallup said that it was the type of "close election" which gave pollsters nightmares. The results were almost exactly the reverse of the last poll by Gallup, which had predicted a victory for Dewey by 49.5 to 44.5 percent.

The turnout in the election was 48 million, less than the predicted 50 million, despite good weather. In the last week of the campaign, some three million voters had not made up their minds. Many of them had previously voted for Democrats. The sharp decline in the Wallace vote may have helped the President. The final Gallup poll, for instance, had predicted four percent for Mr. Wallace, whereas he actually polled 2.3 percent, a difference in raw numbers of about 900,000 votes.

The new make-up of the Senate was 53 Democrats and 43 Republicans. The House would be 263 Democrats and 171 Republicans, with one American-Labor member. The figures published give one more Senate seat to the Democrats and 17 fewer seats in the House to the Democrats, recognizing that the figures could change somewhat. Prior to the election, the Senate was comprised of 51 Republicans and 45 Democrats. The House had 243 Republicans, 185 Democrats and two American-Labor Party members, with five vacancies.

The great surprise of the election, beyond the victory of the President, was the sea change in the House, completely unanticipated even by the most optimistic Democrats.

One might posit that the country was completely turned off by the dedication of the 80th House of Representatives and the Senate Investigating Committee to two things: investigating the past with an eye toward discrediting FDR and all for which he stood, and an equally dedicated devotion to heavily lobbying big business interests, symbolized by the passage in mid-1947 of Taft-Hartley. The entire approach appeared negative and regressive rather than positive. The result should pose a lasting lesson to all such regressive tendencies in the country, including that of the current Congress in 2015.

We reiterate that we are not and never have been a "conservative" country. We were founded in Revolution and we are inherently liberal by the very words of our Constitution. Get used to it.

Three future Presidents were among the House members elected. Re-elected members, for their second terms, included John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Richard Nixon of California. Gerald R. Ford of Michigan was elected for the first time to the House. In the Senate, Congressman Lyndon Johnson was elected to his first term. Future Vice-President and 1968 Democratic presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey was elected to the Senate from Minnesota. Future 1952 and 1956 Democratic nominee for the presidency Adlai Stevenson was elected Governor of Illinois. Congressman Estes Kefauver of Tennessee, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 1956, defeating Senator John Kennedy in a close convention vote, was elected to the Senate.

So whether or not you were an extant being in 1948, if you lived at any time during the period through 1976—and, because of continuity of policy, quite arguably well beyond that time—, you lived with the United States electoral results of 1948, replete with its antecedent and impacting events.

The change in House leadership meant that Representative Robert Doughton of North Carolina, 84, would return as House Ways & Means Committee chairman. Representative Harold Cooley of North Carolina was slated to become chairman of the Atomic Energy Committee. Representative Alfred Bulwinkle of the state would become either chairman or vice-chairman of the Joint Committee on Aviation Policy.

Democrats won all state offices, all twelve Congressional seats and the one Senate seat up for re-election from North Carolina. Kerr Scott was elected Governor. Former Governor J. Melville Broughton was elected Senator to succeed interim Senator William B. Umstead, whom he had defeated in the spring primary.

North Carolina, once thought in doubt for the President, voted 58 to 32 percent for Mr. Truman, with Strom Thurmond receiving 8.8 percent or 70,000 votes. Henry Wallace received but 4,000 votes. The President received 68,000 fewer votes in the state than had FDR in 1944 while Governor Dewey received 4,500 fewer votes than in his previous run. Approximately the same number of persons voted in both elections, suggesting that Mr. Thurmond siphoned off most or all of the difference from the President's total.

State Senator Joe Blythe of Charlotte, DNC treasurer, described the mood at Democratic headquarters in Washington as celebratory and jubilant.

On Wall Street, leading stocks dropped by as much as $4 per share in response to the election. Stocks of large steel companies, automakers, rubber companies, and some utilities dropped three to five points.

Some newspapers, the reactionary Chicago Tribune of Col. Bertie McCormick being the most notorious, but also including early editions of many other newspapers, such as the St. Petersburg Times, which had endorsed the President, had gone ahead and printed stories or indited locally produced editorials assuming the correctness of the polling data. The News, being an afternoon newspaper, had an advantage.

On the editorial page, "A Victory Against Odds" finds that Governor Dewey's concession to President Truman put the final stamp on the surprising outcome of the election. To The News, which had endorsed Governor Dewey on October 21, the outcome was a disappointment. It continues to assert that he was the better qualified and that President Truman should never have been President.

But with the House and Senate having gone back to the Democrats, having a unified Government again, it suggests, did supply one reason for voting for the President, had it been known in advance that would be the result.

And it regards the pluck of the President with admiration, having overcome the split within his own party between the Dixiecrats and the Progressives and the naysayers even among regular Democrats who gave him their tepid support.

It would, it says, always be subject to question how many votes his "sometimes inept and always overdrawn personal campaign changed". Many may have voted out of natural sympathy for the underdog.

Governor Dewey did not mount an impressive campaign or stimulate popular enthusiasm. He came forth as if anointed by God, despite trafficking with some unwholesome elements of the GOP which had won him the nomination. He remained aloof from his opponent, refusing to exchange blow for blow. He paid the price for it.

It concludes that the country had determined to cast its lot with the party of Roosevelt until something more attractive would come along.

Strom won. They stole it from him.

"It Keeps Rolling Along" tells of the nation of 145 million having held its election the previous day, and the voters likely voting as they did for a myriad of reasons, some profound, some trivial. One former G.I. from South Carolina had voted for the Republicans only because the Democratic election officials in 1944 had sent him an absentee ballot while he was in Borneo, listing only Democratic choices. Deprived of the ability to vote for Republicans then, he had decided to do so in 1948.

Many Southerners voted against President Truman because they believed he was a traitor on the race issue. Many blacks in the big cities voted for him because they believed he had taken a stand on civil rights. These votes probably canceled out one another. Most others voted because of either party affiliation, economic considerations, or simply to effect a change.

While there were many alignments based on traditional affinity to party, current events also played a role in determining allegiances, a phenomenon which could increase into the future. Businessmen, tradespeople, professional men and white collar workers voted in the main for Thomas Dewey.

The opposing group believed primarily that the government should take an even greater role in looking after the interests of the people and equalize the rewards of society between the classes. They were comprised by organized labor and its supporters, not including John L. Lewis, the remaining Roosevelt liberals, many prosperous farmers and ordinary citizens everywhere. They voted primarily for President Truman.

The country, it concludes, remained basically the same as before the election and would continue, it was safe to bet, along the same course into the future.

"No Upsets Here" tells of North Carolina having settled its state races in the spring primaries and that nothing had upset that tradition, not even the 1948 schism within the Democratic Party. The one-party tradition in the state had provided good government.

Drew Pearson tells of who would be in charge at the White House as close advisers to President-elect Dewey. Chief-of-staff would be Paul Lockwood. Press secretary would be Jim Hagerty—to occupy that role under President Eisenhower. Personal secretary would be Lillian Rosse. Finance expert would be Elliott Bell. Legal adviser would be Charles Breitel. Budget expert would be John Burton. Tax expert would be Alger Chapman. Public relations handler would be Harold Keller. Patronage boss would be Ed Jaeckle. Women brain-trusters would be Mrs. Charles Weis, Jr. and Jane Todd. Backstage arranger would be Hamilton Gaddis.

And the rest, as they say...

Marquis Childs suggests that the transition period for President-elect Dewey had a lot of people worried. The President and the State Department had experienced a widening split in recent weeks, starting with the withdrawn proposed mission to Moscow of Chief Justice Fred Vinson. The President and his advisers were viewing the State Department as a Trojan horse, not unlike the view of Henry Wallace that the Department was an arm of Wall Street.

Secretary of State Marshall had confided to friends that he intended to resign after the election regardless of the outcome and that he hoped to see Undersecretary Robert Lovett succeed him. But the White House viewed Mr. Lovett with suspicion and so it was unlikely he would be the successor.

The President could name John Foster Dulles as interim Secretary to effect the transition to the Dewey administration. But Mr. Dewey had made it clear that he would remain aloof from Washington during the transition period and so it was questionable whether Mr. Dulles would even accept such an appointment.

Secretary of Defense James Forrestal, being urged to stay on to provide continuity, had indicated that new brains and new imagination were necessary to face the problems ahead. He wanted President-elect Dewey to appoint new heads of the Air Force, Army, and Navy right after the election. These Secretaries-designate would then sit in on conferences with the existing Secretaries. Secretary Forrestal would only advise a new Secretary of Defense and would not be willing to remain in the position.

During the transition ahead, it would be possible to show the world that America could go through a tremendous political upheaval and preserve unity in the process.

We'll see.

James Marlow comments on what the average citizen was hoping for as he cast his vote the previous day. Peace and prosperity was one hope. Four years earlier, he had hoped that the war would end and that a lasting peace would replace it. The war had ended but peace had not really come. Now, people questioned whether another major war might occur with Russia.

People had the best jobs they had ever had with the best pay. There was good money all around. Yet, people wondered how long the prosperity would last. They feared a boom and bust cycle. But that did not bother the average person too much.

The major problem was the continuing lack of peace.

Many had determined not to vote at all as they saw little difference between the candidates. But the average person had a mortgage to pay and believed that the only way he could be assured of paying it off was to take a stand and vote. He hoped that he was right.

A letter from A. W. Black congratulates the community on making Halloween an enjoyable experience for the thousands of children of the city.

A letter from the director of music at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte complains that a group of black citizens had sought to attend the operatic production of "Romeo and Juliet" at the Armory on October 28, but found the seats which had been reserved for them to be undesirable, at the far end of the left balcony. When the group asked for different available seats in the back, they were rudely rebuffed. The citizens then demanded a refund, received it, and left.

He corrects some errors in a piece from the Charlotte Observer describing the incident, noting that the supposed special price of $1.80 for the season for these tickets was incorrect, that it was only for the single performance. They also were not, as the piece had indicated, protesting segregation, but rather the type of seats reserved for them.

He concludes by wondering whether in fact, as it was said, "'music cleanses the understanding, inspires it, lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself.'"

A Quote of the Day: "Have an omen: A Japanese farmer reported that when his cow killed a bee by switching her tail, 60,000 bees swarmed to avenge their comrade, launched a battle in which the cow and 10,000 bees were killed. This, of course, was a great triumph for the bees, and a great moral victory for the outnumbered cow." —Arkansas Gazette

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