1948

October 19, 1992|By Theo Lippman Jr.

This is the 52nd presidential election.

The 41st was held in 1948. Democrats had been in power an unprecedented (for them) 16 straight years. But Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had won those four straight elections, was dead, succeeded by an unpopular Harry S. Truman.

The far-right and far-left wings of the party walked out on him and nominated their own presidential candidates. Republicans renominated New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey, the ex-gangbuster who had given FDR his closest race in 1944.

Truman went to the people with a 30,000-mile whistle-stop campaign. In part because Dewey and the pollsters took a Republican victory for granted, turnout was quite low -- and Truman won an upset by energizing labor, farmers, veterans, blacks and ethnics and carrying every region but the Plains and the Northeast, which Dewey won, and the Deep South, which the segregationist Dixiecrat candidate won.

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