Don't Be Misled by Mere Opinion Surveys

Manila Bulletin, September 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

Don't Be Misled by Mere Opinion Surveys


IN May, this year, all the opinion polls placed the Conservative and Labour parties at a statistical tie, with some pollsters predicting a victory of the Labour Party. After the ballots were counted, the Conservative Party of Prime Minister David Cameron was given an overwhelming mandate to govern for another five years.

UNPRECEDENTED FOUR TERMS

Harry S. Truman as vice president became president by succession after the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in April, 1945. Roosevelt had won an unprecedented fourth election in November, 1944.

RUNNING ON HIS OWN

In November, 1948, Mr. Truman ran for president on his own to give the Democratic Party a fifth term (20 years), an unheard of record in the history of US politics. In an ingenious piece of campaign strategy, Truman outraged the Republicans by calling a special session of Congress on July 26, immediately after the party conventions, challenging the GOP to carry out its platform promises to pass expanded social legislation.

When the Congress adjourned after 11 days without passing any of the legislation, Truman could effectively claim that the Republicans were not serious about their platform promises.

TRUMAN'S DEFEAT PREDICTED

Public opinion polls, newspapers, and magazines almost unanimously predicted Truman's defeat. Undaunted, Truman set out on a "whistle-stop" campaign that ran from Labor Day to Election Day, travelling thousands of miles by train. He addressed himself to the common people, tirelessly denouncing the "do-nothing" Republican Eightieth Congress. Trumans' homey appearance, his sincerity and seriousness won the crowds. "Give 'em hell, Harry!" the crowds shouted.

ASTOUNDING UPSET

So certain were the experts of the outcome that when the first count of returns showed Truman leading, political commentators shrugged it off, and maintained that Gov. Tom Dewey was bound to win. …

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