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Was there “chicanery” November 3rd? I don’t know. But I do know this:
It is an unwritten law of nature that nothing happens for the first time. We’ve all been there. When a teenager gets busted for booze or pot, chances are it’s not the first time. When a cop pulls your kid over for speeding, same thing. Should you catch your spouse in flagrent dilecto no matter how much he denies it or how much you want to believe him, deep down you know the truth. If you find your wife day drinking during the pandemic, and she swears that she hasn’t done it before, it’s probably not the first time.
I fear this law of nature may apply to politics as well—though it never crossed my mind until this past election—where it appears the integrity of mail-in voting is highly questionable in several states.
In 1948 my grandfather, (then) California Governor Earl Warren, ran for the Vice Presidency on the ticket with the Governor of New York, Thomas Dewey. They were shoe-ins. According to the experts and the pollsters, Roosevelt’s former Vice President, Harry Truman, didn’t have a chance. He wasn’t very popular; was thought to be a dunderhead, and assumed to be way over his skis; how could a former haberdasher from Missouri ascend to the highest office in the land?
In his biography of Truman, William Manchester wrote that on September 9th, pollster Elmo Roper announced, “Thomas E. Dewey is almost as good as elected… I can think of nothing duller or more intellectually barren than acting like a sports announcer who feels he must pretend he is witnessing a neck-and-neck race.”
The Dewey/Warren combo was a dream team. Two wildly popular Governors of the country’s two largest states, New York and California. It was an East/West ticket destined to automatically deliver two states with a combined 72 electoral votes and every state in between.
By all accounts, Dewey/Warren ran a horrible campaign. Their consultants adhered to the “Farley rule,” which held that voters made up their mind right after the conventions and that all the politicking and campaigning from the end of the conventions to the day of the election was simply meaningless noise.
Pollsters and advisors told Dewey that he was so far ahead that anything he said of consequence; any position he took would only cost him votes.
So he uttered platitudes and empty phrases like “The future lies ahead of us.”
It frustrated Papa Warren to no end. He was never a complainer but having been an active “doer” as California’s Governor (building roads, prisons, , state hospitals, expanding the University system, and running a surplus–all the things that he was born to do, feel and be)–went for naught, as Dewey’s advisors kept the lid on him. It rankled him to his dying day.
Papa Warren was so popular in California that (back in the days when one could “cross-file”) in 1946 he was nominated by both the Democratic and Republican parties for the governorship. He won in a landslide.
Yet, in 1948 he didn’t even carry his own state.
How could that be?
He never complained nor tried to explain it. He simply said when asked to explain, “Mr. Truman got more votes.”
On the surface, the final results didn’t appear close. Truman won with 303 electoral votes to Dewey’s 189. Truman took 49.6% of the popular vote –Dewey’s 45.1%. (Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrat Party and Henry Wallace’s Progressive party skewed the final results somewhat). Thurmond and Wallace each won less than 3%.
Truman carried 28 states Dewey/Warren 16 and Thurmond 4 southern states.
Heading into the election, New York (45) and Pennsylvania (37) had the most electoral votes.
Only three states, Illinois (28), California (25), and Ohio (25) had over 20 electoral votes. They were the battleground states of their day.
Truman won all three of these states by a margin of less than one percentage point, for a combined total of 78 electoral votes. The difference in the election.
Dewey/Warren carried Pennsylvania and New York. Truman carried California by 17,865 (out of over 4,000,000 votes cast–.44%); Ohio by 7,107 (out of almost 3,000,000–.24%); and Illinois by 33,612 out of almost 4,000,000–.84%.
Papa Warren never publicly questioned the integrity of the election. That was not his style. But to lose California by 17,000 votes out of 4,000,000 given his overwhelming popularity? It boggles the mind—unless chicanery was involved.
With the exception of Mayor Daly’s well-known boost to Kennedy in 1962 one rarely thought that elections were rigged. But after seeing the irregularities in the battleground states, I’m reminded that nothing ever happens for the first time.Published in