Sunday night’s fourth episode of “Race for the White House” on CNN covered Truman v Dewey in 1948 (best link ).
I was born in 1943, and my parents had a two-bedroom apartment in Buckingham in Arlington in 1948. We would move to a house in October 1949. I was hardly aware of the shortages that persisted after WWII.
Republicans won a majority in Congress in 1946, and were supposed to help block the lock of labor unions leading to supply shortages. But with Truman they became a “do nothing” Congress. Truman tried to prove that by calling them back on special session at the end of July 1948. The film shows old model cars parked right at the Capitol.
Dewey led in the early polls, and thought he could ride on the idea that government should do what it had been “elected” to do. Both candidates went on major train tours.
Truman started to cut into the lead near election day, and even claimed that the Republicans were trying to set up fascism (the old “F” word) comparable toe Hitler’s. Later Truman says he'll make those Republicans like eating their vegetables.
Truman went to bed before learning he had won. There was even a false predictive headline from the Chcago Daily Tribune, “Dewey defeats Truman”. Another such gaffe would not happen until 2000 when the media predicted Gore had taken Florida in the race with George W. Bush.
In kindergarten, in 1949, parents tried to take the entire class to both the White House and Capitol and found them both closed to visitors. I remember that day and disappointing field trip from my childhood. Truman was still president then.