Nobody got excited until about 12:45 a.m. The evening started lazily. There had been little enthusiasm in the campaign, although Republican cockiness had passed for it now and then, and Mr. Roper had told everybody what was going to happen. The man selling newspapers outside the subway station ignored the election and just shouted "Get your Record here," as usual; almost nobody was watching the television set at Jim's Place.
Later on, Dewey backers were astounded and glum. Truman backers were astounded and delighted, but there still wasn't anything you could call excitement. In Memorial Hall the Young Republican Club made good on its promise to let the Liberal Union take over if Truman was ahead at midnight, and people cheered a bit as the returns over two television sets and a loudspeaker showed that Truman was holding on. In the center of the cheering, there was a small crowd of Young Republicans and their girls, formally dressed, drinking champagne, and never a one of them cracking a smile. But both sides knew that when the returns started to roll in, Dewey would pull out front; and neither side knew what would happen in the Senate or the House of Representatives. So nobody was excited.
At 12:45 a.m. it became clear that the Democrats had won 11 seats in the House away from the Republicans. They were leading in the fight for 12 more. They were leading in all 11 contested Senate fights. This meant that Dewey was not getting big enough majorities anywhere to pull other Republican candidates along with him in a major sweep. It meant that the 80th Congress was getting thumbs-down from the American people. At 1 a.m. Truman was still in front. At 2 a.m. his popular majority had grown while his electoral probability had dropped. Nobody knew just how it would all come out. But it looked very much as if the tide of Republicanism had not yet completely drowned the New Deal by a long shot. And that was something to get excited about.