United States presidential election, 1948

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1948 editorial cartoon shows farmer Truman trying to go down the middle while Wallace tells the Democratic donkey to Haw! (go left) and Thurmond tells it to Gee! (go right).

The 1948 United States presidential election is widely considered to be the largest upset in American political history.

Despite the unpopularity of incumbent President Harry Truman, a three-way split in the Democratic Party (both the Southern segregationist wing and the Progressive left-wing formed third parties) which took away from Truman's voting base, and polls showing Republican nominee Thomas E. Dewey (who had also been their nominee in 1944) virtually unbeatable (which, even in more recent times, had serious flaws), Truman emerged with the nomination.[1]

candidates popular vote electoral vote
Harry S Truman 24,105,812 303
Thomas E. Dewey 21,970,065 189
J. Strom Thurmond 1,169,063 39
Henry A. Wallace 1,157,172 0
Norman Thomas 139,414 0
Claude A. Watson 103,224 0
Edward A. Teichert 29,244 0



  • Pietrusza, David 1948: Harry Truman's Improbable Victory and the Year that Changed America, New York: Union Square Press, 2011.


  1. Encyclopedia of Presidents, Harry S. Truman, by Jim Hargrove, Children's Press, 1987, p. 72.
  2. A Pictoral History of the U.S. Presidents, by Clare Gibson, Gramercy Books, 2001, p. 124.