The 5 Most Surprising Upsets In Modern US Politics
Whenever the election cycle rolls around in the United States, we are always in for some real entertainment. For most of the election year, we get to hear about all the screw-ups and achievements of every candidate. In the end, we voters get to decide which of these stories to believe or ignore.
It used to be that we could get a pretty good idea of how elections will turn out beforehand. We could ascertain how the electorate felt about the election through polls and surveys. For many years, these polls were good indicators of what to expect on election night.
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However, in recent years, polls have proven to be incredibly unreliable. We can attribute this to either inadequate sampling, biases introduced by the pollsters, or both.
The one thing that unreliable polling injects into elections is excitement. Sometimes we have no clue what to expect on Election Day. Here are five (5) surprising election results that most of us will probably remember.
David Brat vs. Eric Cantor
A surprising election at the time was David Brat’s victory over then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor during the 2014 primary. Cantor had represented the 7th congressional district of Virginia for some 13 years and rose to the number 2 spot among GOP leadership, but wound up losing to his Tea Party opponent. This was the first time a House majority leader lost in a primary since the year 1899.
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Doug Jones vs. Roy Moore
Some believe that Doug Jones’ victory over Roy Moore in Alabama shouldn’t have been that hard to see coming. This was because Roy Moore, who was a former state Supreme Court justice, had just spent more than six weeks fighting off countless allegations of sexual misconduct.
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This included stories that he had even pursued romantic encounters with teenage girls while in his 30s. In spite of these terrible allegations, Jones’ win was not certain by any stretch. This was because Alabama is a very red state that had not elected a Democrat to the Senate in 25 years.
Lisa Murkowski vs. Joe Miller
In the year 2010, Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski lost the GOP primary for her Alaska senate seat to Joe Miller, who was a Tea Party favorite. She then appealed to Alaskans to vote for her as a write-in candidate on their ballots.
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Over 101,000 of them answered the call, and Murkowski won her election by several thousand votes. Weeks of legal fighting took place afterward, but Murkowski was eventually declared as the winner in December. She was the first in over 50 years to win a senate write-in campaign — since Strom Thurmond did it in the year 1954.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) vs. Joseph Crowley
Many people believe that the most surprising election of all time was when AOC defeated incumbent Joseph Crowley in the 2018 midterms for New York’s 14th Congressional District. AOC organized a grassroots campaign that appealed to the ethnically diverse population of the district that many felt Crowley couldn’t relate with. Even though she had relatively little media coverage, she had developed a large following on her social media platforms. This took place under the radar of most political media coverage.
Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump surprised everyone by winning both the Republican nomination and then the presidency in 2016. Countless political pundits dismissed him as a novelty. But his straight-talking style began appealing to a wide range of constituents. It was seen as a populist movement that attracted large swaths of working Americans.
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This turned out to be a rerun for Hillary Clinton. She lost to outsider Donald Trump as a hands-down favorite. The same way she lost to another outsider, Illinois junior senator Barack Obama during the 2008 Democratic primary.