Angus Campbell and Robert Kahn oversaw a national pilot study of opinions about foreign affairs that, based on two questions, revealed that the presidential race between Harry Truman and Thomas Dewey—predicted to be a Dewey landslide—was actually too close to call. The insights gleaned from that first study convinced social scientists of the need to do more voting behavior research. In 1952, Campbell and Warren Miller developed the study into a two-part time series survey, known as the Michigan Election Studies; the series covered every presidential and midterm election between 1956 and 1976. In 1977, with major funding from the National Science Foundation, the Michigan Election Studies became the National Election Studies and continued the unbroken series of election surveys with greater participation by the national research community. In 2005, the studies were renamed the American National Election Studies, managed by a multi-university collaboration headed by ISR and Stanford University.
Photo: At St. Louis Union Station, postmaster Bernard Dickmann (left) stands next to newly elected President Harry S. Truman as Mr. Truman holds up the famous Chicago Tribune newspaper headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.” November 5, 1948. Photo credit: campaign scrapbook of Harry S. Truman, trumanlibrary.org