Dewey Defeats Truman: Wake-Up Video

All across the United States, people are headed to the polls today, as the first Tuesday of every November is always Election Day. It's an odd year, so there are no national races in play, but that doesn't mean your local and state government should get short shrift, as your mayor, governor or local representatives might not be as sexy as senators or presidents, but they'll affect your everyday life just the same.

There have been plenty of historic elections on November 3, but one of the more notorious moments in the history of the American republic (as well as the history of newspaper journalism) came in 1948. On that morning, the Chicago Tribune declared "Dewey Defeats Truman" in its banner headline. The only problem? Sitting President Harry Truman had overtaken New York Governor Thomas Dewey by 114 electoral votes. Truman was extremely unpopular with the national press, and many newspapers had long predicted that Dewey would walk away with the presidency handily. But in a brilliant act of political maneuvering, Truman bypassed the press entirely and took his message directly to the people on his now-infamous "whistle stop" tour, which saw him cross the country via train to speak to voters all over the country. Even though he was a sitting president, Truman turned himself into a lovable underdog who was bullied by the press and the cultural elite. That same press underestimated the will of the people and ended up missing the Truman movement entirely, which is how he managed to score such a landslide victory that nobody seemed to know about.

Truman scored a second term in office by being an underdog, and Britt Daniel of Spoon knows all about that.