1948 was a tough year for pollsters covering the presidential race between Republican candidate, Thomas E. Dewey, and Democrat candidate, Harry S. Truman. The top three pollsters of the day (Crossley, Gallup, and Roper) had Dewey up five or more points going into the election. So confident was the Chicago Tribune of Truman’s defeat that it went to press before many of the exit poll locations had a chance to report. The results were 150,000 printed newspapers with a headline that read “Dewey Defeats Truman” and a humiliating public relations moment at the hands of our 33rd president.
At the heart of this polling mishap was the use of “quota sampling” that didn’t take into effect the bias telephone ownership had toward the wealthy who were more likely to be Republicans than Democrats.
Hmm, sampling bias, phones, emerging media, presidential election.