Truman was able to take advantage of a Dewey gaffe in Illinois, when the train he was speaking from the back of started backing up. Although no one was injured, Dewey said the engineer “should probably be shot at sunrise…” Truman’s retort, “He doesn’t mention that under that great engineer, Hoover, we backed up into the worst depression in history.” Things like this, plus the connections made in his 31,000 mile train trip, helped him gain the following of the people.
A milestone in the 1948 election was the first-ever televised Republican Convention. This exposed the pollsters to a national, even international, audience of viewers who were eager and gullible for the numbers. The Truman upset prompted organizations like Gallup, Roper and others to search for what went wrong. The media had relied almost entirely on the polls which turned out to be their downfall. The legend of “Give ‘Em Hell Harry!” was born.