(This post was inspired by my comment on Koshersalaami's Latest post: My worry about Nate Silver's election prediction )
On election night, earlier press deadline required the first post-election issue of the Tribune to go to press before even the East Coast states had reported many results from the polling places.
The paper relied on its veteran Washington correspondent and political analyst Arthur Sears Henning, who had predicted the winner in four out of five presidential contests in the past 20 years.
Conventional wisdom, supported by polls, was almost unanimous that a Dewey presidency was "inevitable", and that the New York governor would win the election handily. The first (one-star) edition of the Tribune therefore went to press with the banner headline "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN".
The story, by Tribune correspondent, Henning , also reported Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate that would work with President-elect Dewey. Henning wrote that "Dewey and Warren won a sweeping victory in the presidential election yesterday.
The early returns showed the Republican ticket leading Truman and Barkley pretty consistently in the western and southern states" and added that "indications were that the complete returns would disclose that Dewey won the presidency by an overwhelming majority of the electoral vote".
As returns began to indicate a close race later in the evening, Henning continued to stick to his prediction, and thousands of papers continued to roll off the presses with the banner headline predicting a Dewey victory.
Even after the paper's lead story was rewritten to emphasize local races and to indicate the narrowness of Dewey's lead in the national race, the same banner headline was left on the front page.
Only late in the evening, after press dispatches cast doubt upon the certainty of Dewey's victory, did the Tribune change the headline to "DEMOCRATS MAKE SWEEP OF STATE OFFICES" for the later two-star edition. Some 150,000 copies of the paper had already been printed with the erroneous headline before the gaffe was corrected.
Truman, as it turned out, won the electoral vote by a 303–189–39 majority over Dewey and Dixiecrat candidate Strom Thurmond, though a swing of less than one percent of the popular vote in Ohio, Illinois, and California would have produced a Dewey victory,
Instead of the predicted Republican sweep of the White House, and retention of both houses of Congress, the Democrats not only won the Presidency,, but also took control of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
Hillary, and her supporters, should take nothing for granted.
There are no guarantees in prime time, high stakes, electoral politics.