With caucusing and voting about to begin in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, it is worth looking back at seven of the biggest upsets and surprises in the country’s history. If these historical chapters teach us anything, it is that all the experts can be wrong and that anything can happen:
1. Truman Defeats Dewey
Weeks before the 1948 presidential election, the Washington Star ran a political cartoon showing a distraught President Harry Truman looking at a bulletin board full of dismal headlines about his re-election chances. In the cartoon, Truman’s opponent, Thomas Dewey, stands behind the President, smirking and saying, “What’s the use of going through with the election?”
No one thought Truman would win a second term. Dewey, the Republican governor of New York, was an incredibly popular figure, and Truman also faced open rebellion within his own Democratic party as Strom Thurmond made a run for the White House as the leader of the racist Dixiecrats. Despite a near national conviction that he would lose the election, Truman campaigned fiercely in the fall of 1948. During a campaign around the country that covered nearly 22,000 miles, Truman convinced voters to give him another four years. And though the Chicago Tribune (in)famously declared that “Dewey Defeats Truman” in its morning-after headline, the count of actual votes showed President Truman had convincingly beat his New York challenger.