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Harry S Truman on the polls of 1948--all of which predicted a big GOP win

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WI_DEM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 04:03 PM
Original message
Harry S Truman on the polls of 1948--all of which predicted a big GOP win
Excerpt from Truman's speech given at the Cleveland Municipal Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 26, 1948.


"You know that the same doctor I told you about in Pittsburgh the other night--that Republican candidate--keeps handing out these sleeping polls, and a lot of people have been taking them. The doctor keeps telling the people: 'Don't worry. Take a poll and go to sleep.'
"Most of the people are not going to be lulled or be fooled. They know that sleeping polls are bad for the system. They affect the mind and the body. An overdose could be fatal--can so affect your mind that your body will be too lazy to go to the polls on election day. 'You don't need to vote, the election is won"

http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/48game/1948gam...
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Ozymanithrax Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 04:10 PM
Response to Original message
1. The famous Dewey Defeats Truman...
Came about through hubris and faulty polling.
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Bitwit1234 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 04:19 PM
Response to Original message
2. Told you those poll takers stand around in the republican
side of congress and ask the questions.
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Bitwit1234 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 04:20 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. I was only a kid then but I remember the head line
I was in a dentist office with my mother when the nurse showed it to us and laughed. She said they sure got this one wrong. I'll never forget it, maybe because of the fact it was a dentist office.
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monmouth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 04:28 PM
Response to Original message
4. I was a young kid too and was very impressed with the word
"haberdasher." Had never heard it and my father explained it to me. Impressed teacher the next day when discussing the new President and told her he was a "haberdasher." The other word I liked was that Truman took a daily "constitutional." Geez, the guy took a walk, why didn't they just say that! Just kidding, little kids impress easily I guess.
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FBaggins Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 04:41 PM
Response to Original message
5. Oh please don't go there yet WI_DEM
Every badly losing campaign in the last sixty years has used this in an attempt to tell people it ain't over till it's over.

But that's always when they pretty much know that it is over... and I don't think we're there yet.
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craigmatic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 05:22 PM
Response to Original message
6. they stopped polling that race in the summer while Dewey was still up.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 05:43 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. You got it! See my following post, craig.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 05:40 PM
Response to Original message
7. 'The Truman victory
was also an embarrassment for the emerging public opinion polling community. Truman's 4.4 percentage point election margin contrasted with the pre-election polls predicting a Dewey victory ranging between 5 to 15 percentage points. After the election, analysts attributed the polls' failure largely to completing their surveys too early, thus missing a late swing in voter sentiment in favor of the President. Ironically, the polls themselves may have helped Truman's late surge to overcome Dewey when press reports of their surveys showing Dewey ahead energized the Democrats to mount late efforts to increase turnout, and made the Republicans over-confident of any need to get their own voters to the polls.'

http://www.eagleton.rutgers.edu/programs/egov/ap_truman...
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 12:15 AM
Response to Reply #7
12. So even then polls worked to influence public sentiment.
rather than simply observe it. The Florida Senate race is the most egregious example of polls being used to manipulate the public rather than report information.
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pstokely Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 05:59 PM
Response to Original message
9. Poor people didn't have phones then
Many didn't even have electricity
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 12:17 AM
Response to Reply #9
13. Many today have disconnected lines.
Pollsters try, but it's very difficult to accurately poll low income people. They aren't well reflected in most polls.
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elleng Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 10:08 AM
Response to Reply #9
17. You may be thinking of an 'older' time. That was an issue in the '30s
and I do suspect that the use of Cell phones effects polling today.

I was very interested to read about effect of polling itself. And of course today, polling, accurate or not, when its written about, affects what we think and do. A BIG circle.
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Ter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Oct-08-10 11:22 PM
Response to Original message
10. Comparing 1948 polling with 2010 polling is silly
Was it daily? Were there multiple polls? Were poor people polled? How so, since at the time the overwhelming majority did not have phones? Back then they only asked "Who are you voting for?" They did not do anything scientific, making sure there was a mixture of various kinds of people and states.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 12:13 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. I've seen Obama prove polls wrong for 6 years now.
Polls don't seem to do a good job of predicting the behavior of black voters. They're perpetually underrepresented in polling data. Polls didn't predict he would win the US Senate primary in Illinois. How much money was wasted on pointless polls that told us Hillary was going to win the Democratic nomination?
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Ter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 12:55 AM
Response to Reply #11
14. The difference is that a day before the election, everyone knew Obama would win
The polls were actually right when they said Hillary was winning months before the primary. Many just changed their minds and warmed to Obama. Those polls were months and months before the primaries, not a day before. When was the last time in a presidential race that the underdog won? 1948. In 2000 and 2004 it was too close to call. Every other race in my lifetime it wasn't a surprise.
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Radical Activist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 01:46 AM
Response to Reply #14
15. Then let's only do polls the day before the election
since that's the only time they're right.
Besides, many primary and caucus results were a surprise. State level polls are routinely wrong. Hillary was leading the irrelevant national primary polls even after Obama won Iowa.
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Ter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 04:02 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. You fail to see the point
Any politician can come back from 10 or even 20 ore more points with months to go. But if they are down 15 points the day before the election, especially a nationwide presidential election, the chances of them winning is infinitesimal. Polls were not reliable in 1948. Today major money is made off of them.

For the record I like frequent or daily polling and always check out polls. It's fun to see how they shift. Crazy how some can change their minds so much during the election.
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Bluenorthwest Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 10:30 AM
Response to Reply #14
18. Right. Check out DU or any liberal writer or commentator
and show me how they 'knew' Obama would win. We were nervous. If polls were magic as some say, no one would be nervous on election night. But we are.
I love how you speak of 'months before the Primary' as if the Primary was not a series of elections coving most of a year. And they were doing daily polling on Primaries, not 'months and months before'. Nope. The week before Iowa, half the nation said 'Obama can not win'. The polls did not show that he was the winner, the results showed that he was the winnner.
Polling is snake oil.
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Ter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 12:40 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Polling right before the election showed he had well over the 276 EV needed
Edited on Sat Oct-09-10 12:42 PM by Ter
No one put McCain ahead. But for the record, I was nervous too.
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Mefistofeles Donating Member (214 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 06:21 PM
Response to Reply #11
22. Wrong. An average of polls had Obama up by 7.6% against McCain
Edited on Sat Oct-09-10 06:23 PM by Mefistofeles
The day before the elections. He won by 7.3% almost exactly on point.
http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2008/president/...
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 05:47 PM
Response to Original message
20. My mom told me about the election in 1948.
She said everyone was standing in line to vote for Harry Truman, and saying, "I know he's gonna lose but I'm voting for him anyway."
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Mefistofeles Donating Member (214 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-09-10 06:07 PM
Response to Original message
21. self-delete
Edited on Sat Oct-09-10 06:22 PM by Mefistofeles
...
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