Pinback button promoting Harry Truman for president and Alben Barkley for vice-president, 1948. Litho. Bastian Bros. Co., Rochester, New York.
Democrats were anything but certain of victory in 1948. For the first time in four election cycles, Franklin Roosevelt was not at the top of the ticket, and his successor, Harry Truman, could not command the same loyalty. Although personally well liked, many questioned whether Truman was qualified to hold the office, and going into the campaign, his approval rating was lower than Roosevelt's had ever been.
In contrast, Republicans were supremely confident. Having taken control of Congress in the '46 midterms, a weak incumbent put the White House seemingly within reach. Their candidate, Gov. Dewey of New York, was back for a second try after a strong showing against FDR in '44, and Dewey's running mate, Gov. Warren of California, gave the ticket regional balance. Truman's running mate, Sen. Barkley of Kentucky, had been chosen by a fractious Democratic convention, mainly to honor the 70-year-old, and because no one else wanted the job.
Afraid to waste money on a lost cause, Democrats were slow to contribute, and the under-funded Truman-Barkley campaign generated little in the way of paraphernalia. Only this button featuring the Capitol rotunda saw wide distribution, and it is relatively uncommon today. We offer a choice example.