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Carol Shea-Porter
Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), upset winner
over Rep. Jeb Bradley in 2006.
Given the fact that we were just graced with a holiday that fell precisely at midweek, topical electoral horse-race and/or polling news was a little hard to come by this week. By any objective measurement, there was less polling conducted this week than at any point in this cycle, dating back to before the Republican presidential primaries.

With that in mind, tonight just seemed to be the right time to engage in a little political nostalgia (and, hopefully, some lively debate in the comments) as we look at some of the greatest electoral upsets of the past 20 years in American congressional and gubernatorial politics.

The initial list that was concocted for this fun little exercise had well over two dozen races. As it happened, however, so many of them fell into two particular categories that I felt the need to limit races that emanated from those categories. So, in the name of spreading the wealth, the decision was made to minimize entries from the following two scenarios:

Category One: Special Elections

The unique dynamics of special elections, to say nothing of the vagaries in turnout, make them a breeding ground for shocking outcomes. I could have easily put the victories by Travis Childers (MS-01; 2008) and Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (SD-AL; 2004) on this list, as well as Bill Redmond's shocker in the bluest district in New Mexico (NM-03; 1997) in the top 12. On further reflection, it would have been pretty easy to do a "special elections upset" top 12.

Category Two: Tsunami Elections

Wave elections have a tendency to bring in a lot of driftwood, and therefore upsets are a staple of every wave election. There is absolutely no question that some of the entries on this list of upsets were less shocking than some of the elections that accompanied huge electoral waves. I have no doubt some loyal readers will be aghast that names like Blake "Ducky PJs" Farenthold (TX-27; 2010), Steve Stockman (TX-09; 1994), Nancy Boyda (KS-02; 2006), David Loebsack (IA-02; 2006) and Chip Cravaack (MN-08; 2010) didn't make the cut.

So, with those two caveats out of the way, let's get to the countdown. And, then, let the recriminations fly in the comments, as people will doubtlessly quibble with inclusions, exclusions, and placement. Hell, that's half the fun of this little mid-summer exercise!

(Continue reading below the fold)

Upset #12—Georgia Senate (1992): Paul Coverdell (R) d. Sen. Wyche Fowler (D)

A cynic might note that the first sign of the 1994 tsunami came over two months before Bill Clinton was inaugurated as the 42nd president. On the same night that Clinton dispatched then-President George H.W. Bush from office, and carried Georgia in the process, first-term Democrat Fowler led Coverdell by 35,000 votes. Unfortunately for the freshman senator, Georgia law required a runoff after the general election if a candidate failed to attain a majority. Fowler had just 49.23 percent of the vote. Three weeks later, on runoff day, Fowler essentially got the same percentage of the vote he received on Nov. 3. Coverdell handed Bill Clinton (who had campaigned for Fowler) his first defeat, and before all the confetti had been swept up in Little Rock.

Upset #11—Alaska Governor (1994): Tony Knowles (D) d. Jim Campbell (R)

Sometimes, upsets have a bit more value because they go against the grain. It was a pretty hollow victory after the deluge of defeats they had suffered on Election Night in 1994, but the final contest of the night actually fell to the Democrats in a mild upset. Knowles, the former mayor of Anchorage, benefitted from a split vote (former Alaska Independence party member Jack Coghill notched 13 percent of the vote) and took the win over Campbell. Knowles may have been among the most fortunate guys in elective politics—he won re-election easily in 1998 after the GOP had to abandon their nominee in mid campaign, putting their support behind an Independent candidacy that ultimately flailed.

Upset #10—Connecticut-06 (1996): Rep. Nancy Johnson (R) d. Charlotte Koskoff (D)

An upset does not necessarily have to be a victory. Arguably the greatest near-upset of recent vintage happened in 1996, when Democrat Charlotte Koskoff, who had lost 64-32 to Johnson in 1994, came within a handful of votes of defeating Johnson, who had dominated in the 6th district for over a decade. It was one of the true rarities in American politics—an electoral outcome that virtually no one saw coming. In one of the great political postscripts, Koskoff's campaign was run not by a seasoned political veteran, but by a recent graduate from Williams College. Ten years later, that campaign manager became the candidate, and Chris Murphy ended the 24-year reign of Nancy Johnson in Congress, defeating her by a 10-point margin.

Upset #9—Pennsylvania-17 (2002): Rep. Tim Holden (D) d. Rep. George Gekas (R)

The lesson of this incumbent-on-incumbent battle: Superior campaign skills can even overcome the power of a solid gerrymander. When veterans Holden and Gekas were drawn into the 17th district after the 2000 census, the early line was that Holden was a goner in a district that George W. Bush whomped Al Gore in by a 55-42 margin. But Holden had run in competitive races in hostile territory often since his initial 1992 victory, while Gekas was routinely re-elected without a sweat in a deep red district. Holden defied the terrain (and a less-than-awesome national environment for Democrats) in scoring the 51-49 win over Gekas. Ironically, more amenable territory for Democrats proved to be Holden's political undoing. He lost in the Democratic primary earlier this year to Matt Cartwright.

Upset #8—Texas-23 (2006): Ciro Rodriguez (D) d. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R)

Even in a wave election like 2006, there may have been no more unlikely winner than Democrat Ciro Rodriguez. A veteran congressman whose district stretched from San Antonio into the Rio Grande Valley, Rodriguez was defeated in a very controversial 2004 Democratic primary by Henry Cuellar. In 2006, Rodriguez made a bid to reclaim his seat from Cuellar, but lost in the Democratic primary by double digits. His political career was resurrected, however, when a court-ordered remap of Texas placed his Bexar County case in Republican Henry Bonilla's 23rd district. Election Night functioned as a primary (the remap was ordered in late summer), and Bonilla looked safe: he was barely forced into a runoff, winning 49 percent to Rodriguez's 20 percent. One month later, however, Rodriguez put the exclamation point on the Democratic wave election by coming from behind to score a 54-46 win over Bonilla, securing the 30th pickup for the Democrats in the cycle.

Upset #7—Oklahoma Governor (2002): Brad Henry (D) d. Steve Largent (R)

In a state that had become one of the reddest in the Union, Democrat Brad Henry scored not one, but two upsets in order to score a Democratic win in what was, on balance, a pretty lousy electoral year for Democrats in 2002. A distant second in the Democratic primary (he drew 29 percent to wealthy businessman Vince Orza's 44 percent), he stormed back to claim the runoff, and then parlayed an error-free campaign, and the presence of a well-heeled conservative third-party candidate, into a 7000-vote win over NFL Hall of Famer Steve Largent, who had been universally assumed to be the guy that would follow Republican Frank Keating into office. If you doubt that Henry had serious political game, consider that he was not only re-elected in 2006, he did so with two-thirds of the vote.

Upset #6—New Hampshire-01 (2006): Carol Shea-Porter (D) d. Rep. Jeb Bradley (R)

Of all the Democratic upset victories in the wave election of 2006 that earned them the majority in both houses of Congress for the first time in a dozen years, Shea-Porter's may have been the most improbable. The DCCC had taken the unusual step of wading into a primary, throwing support to state legislator Jim Craig. He wound up getting smashed by 20 points by Carol Shea-Porter. Shea-Porter was an atypical candidate for the modern era—a successful campaign that was not fueled by a lot of cash. Indeed, in picking off both Craig in the primary and sophomore GOP Rep. Jeb Bradley in the general, Shea-Porter spent just $291,000. No winning candidate outside of legacy picks Dan Lipinski and Kendrick Meek have won a House seat while spending less since the early 1990s.

Upset #5—Illinois-08 (2004): Melissa Bean (D) d. Rep. Phil Crane (R)

Phil Crane was first elected to the House when Melissa Bean was just seven years of age. Crane's suburban Chicago district had repeatedly returned him to Congress since 1969, and often by huge margins. But by the dawn of the 21st century, it became clear that his 8th district was starting to get away from him. After three-plus decades of fairly easy wins (only once since 1970 had Crane been held below 60 percent), little-known technology consultant Melissa Bean held Crane to a 57-43 win in 2002. In 2004, which was far from a great Democratic year, a more seasoned Bean matched Crane dollar-for-dollar, and scored the 52-48 win. She held the seat for three terms, before the 2010 wave election ushered in the odious Joe Walsh (whose victory could have easily made the top 12 on its own).

Upset #4—California-46 (2006): Loretta Sanchez (D) d. Rep. Bob Dornan (R)

One has to wonder how awesome it would have been to have "B-1 Bob" Dornan during the era of the blogosphere. Dornan could easily be considered the godfather to the batshit bombast coming out of the mouths of the Bachmanns, Walshes, and Wests of the GOP. Alas, he never made it to the era of the blogs. That is because he was silenced in an absolutely stunning defeat back in 1996.

For her part, Democrat Loretta Sanchez was the unlikeliest of dragon slayers. Her only previous effort at elective politics had been a failed city council bid in 1994. In a field of Some Dudes, she won the Democratic primary with just 35 percent of the vote. But Dornan's status as a lightning rod for the left (and a comically abortive run for president) made him a target, and Sanchez shocked the political world with a victory ... in Orange County, of all places. Dornan, predictably, immediately charged that his Latina opponent had won courtesy of shadowy illegal immigrants voting him out of office. After his plea to Congress was denied, he ran for his old seat again, and was routed by Sanchez in a 1998 rematch.

Upset #3—Massachusetts Senate (2010): Scott Brown (R) d. Martha Coakley (D)

Aside from her considerable campaign skills, it seems fair to argue that a large part of the Democratic activist community's adoration of Elizabeth Warren is owed to the still lingering wounds over Scott Brown's enormous upset victory in a special election held in the dead of winter in 2010. When state Attorney General Martha Coakley secured the Democratic nomination in late 2009, the general assumption was that she would cruise to victory over little-known state senator Scott Brown. Turnout in the Democratic primary, after all, had been four times what it had been for the GOP primary. What's more, a pre-primary Suffolk poll had Coakley waxing Brown by a 58-27 margin.

The short, general election campaign turned quickly, however. PPP sounded the alarm two weeks prior to Election Day, showing a dead heat. By the time the peril was evident, it was too late. By the eve of the election, most pundits agreed that the race was trending to the GOP, and one month after the race looked like a Democratic coronation, Brown closed the deal by a 52-47 margin, and buoyed Republican hopes in advance of the 2010 midterms.

Upset #2—New York Governor (1994): George Pataki (R) d. Gov. Mario Cuomo (D)

In the 1994 GOP tsunami, there were two defeats that crystallized the severity of the defeat for the Democratic defeat. One was Speaker Tom Foley's defeat in WA-05 by George Nethercutt. But calling that an upset, beyond the historic milestone of a sitting speaker getting defeated, was a overstating the case a bit. Nethercutt had, after all, raised over a million dollars, and the Spokane-based 5th district was a swing-y district that George HW Bush had carried in 1988.

The other race was an upset in every legitimate sense of the word. George Pataki was a first-term state senator and former Peekskill Mayor who was essentially unknown when he declared for governor in 1993. Mario Cuomo, meanwhile, was a giant in American politics—the guy that probably could have been the Democratic nominee for president on two separate occasions had he decided to pull the trigger on a bid. Pataki's 49-45 victory, given Cuomo's stature and the naturally blue terrain of New York (where Bill Clinton had won by 15 points in 1992) was an absolute stunner.

Upset #1—Minnesota Governor (1998): Jesse Ventura (I) d. Norm Coleman (R) and Skip Humphrey (D)

How could it be any other way? History has given us a number of novelty candidates. But how often can you wake up the day after an election with the realization that the novelty candidate has actually won?

Former pro wrestler Ventura actually had something of a political pedigree (he had been the mayor of suburban Brooklyn Park), and Minnesota had a reputation for giving pretty laudable vote shares to third-party candidates. But the thought of Ventura actually defeating a DFL political legacy like Skip Humphrey, or a rising GOP star like Norm Coleman, seemed unthinkable. Until it happened, with 37 percent of the vote.

Now, it is your turn. What obvious upsets were dishonored by their exclusion from the list? What race would you have put at the top of the charts? That's what the comments are for, y'all. Let the debate begin!

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:35 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.


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Comment Preferences

  •  well, there was that Bush v. Gore thing.. (21+ / 0-)

    where the winner actually lost, thanks to the Super Court. That one won't ever be topped, I hope.

    Great diary; I read it all, which I don't usually.

    This Rover crossed over.. Willie Nelson, written by Dorothy Fields

    by Karl Rover on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:54:15 PM PDT

  •  would the 1992 presidential election qualify (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fladem, Nulwee, Matt Z, Odysseus

    in terms of the Perot vote?

    Präsidentenelf-maßschach"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03) "Ensanguining the skies...Falls the remorseful day".政治委员, 政委‽ Warning - some snark above ‽

    by annieli on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:54:31 PM PDT

  •  Chris Murphy (D-CT) (7+ / 0-)

    It should be noted also that when Murphy wins election to the U.S. Senate in November (a certainty) he'll be the youngest there, at only 39.

  •  Paul Wellstone's election to the Senate (14+ / 0-)

    This country would be much better off if he was still around.

    "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt." Bertrand Russell

    by Thutmose V on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 06:56:32 PM PDT

  •  Category Three: (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisJohn, Sister Havana, oxfdblue, Matt Z

    ..Propagandists vs. Obama.

    #1 for eternity...

    Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate. ~ Proverbs 22:22

    by wyvern on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:02:09 PM PDT

  •  The Massachusetts 2010 race (17+ / 0-)

    wasn't an upset.  It was a give away.  

    Yes, I'm still bitter.

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:02:16 PM PDT

  •  Is Loebsack (IA-02; 2006) really an upset. (8+ / 0-)

    Sure, Jim Leach was a popular incumbent and generally good guy, but it was a Democratic district. Leach was part of the Republican majority that supported unpopular Bush policies. Control of Congress was at stake.

    •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lordpet8, cocinero

      But Leach, IIRC, had largely distanced himself from those unpopular Bush policies (he voted against the Iraq war, for one.)

      Leach usually was running from behind because of his district and the fact that he didn't accept PAC money.

      28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

      by TDDVandy on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:22:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One of those tough races (7+ / 0-)

      where I was glad to see the Dem win, but sorry to see the R go.  The fact is that the republican party needs more Jim Leaches and Connie Morrellas but the Democratic party can't reach a majority without knocking off such low hanging fruit.  And for every Jim Leach that we knocked off, there was a Chet Edwards that they knocked off.  Edwards was the single greatest politician I ever met and Congress is really a worse off place since his defeat.  (sorry for the tangent)

      "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

      by dmsarad on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:36:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Still An Upset on Two Grounds... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lordpet8, cocinero, ArkDem14

      1) Leach was an in-state institution. Elected since...gosh...I think it was 1976. And almost none of those were close.

      2) Loebsack really flew under the radar. Until this one media outlet (a series of like 60 House race polls that went by the name Majority Watch, or something like that) polled the race, no one even had it on the watch lists.

      "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
      Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

      by Steve Singiser on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:54:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I guess it was more due to the fact (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WisJohn, ArkDem14

      that very few people saw it coming

      Leach was one last real moderates R's left in the house. His district was made even more democratic in the 2002 redistricting and yet he continued to turn back challenges with ease. He looked heavily entrenched to most political pundits at the time.

      His moderate views often won him support from independents and Democrats but by 2006 he had alienated many Republicans/conservatives.

      In conjunction with a Democratic tide which swept Eastern Iowa in the election, there were two tipping factors in Leach’s defeat. The first was his refusal to allow Republican Party activists to distribute an anti-gay mailing. When Leach told the Republican National Committee that he would leave the Republican caucus if they proceeded with such divisive tactics, social conservatives were offended and refused to back him.

      “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”- President Eisenhower

      by lordpet8 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:53:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. '06 had so many amazing outcomes-- (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, WisJohn, dmsarad, pademocrat, Matt Z

    I'm not sure if they qualify for upsets as much as simply miracles, particularly running the table in the Senate.  I think that night tore the heart out of the institutional GOP, and it hasn't recovered yet...

  •  2006 Gillibrand defeats Sweeney. (4+ / 0-)

    Until his political self-destruction during the campaign (Frat parties, spousal assault, DWI, etc...) Sweeney was considered a rising star in republican political circles.

    Gillibrand sort of came out of nowhere and "Congressman kick-ass" had his ass kicked to the curb.

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:12:47 PM PDT

    •  not sure I agree (0+ / 0-)

      Gillibrand was very well known.  Her father was a prominent Democratic politican.  Oh, and the Frat party happened at my alma matter!

      "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

      by dmsarad on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:38:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But That's Why As An Upset, It's Blunted (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I see Sweeney as more of an unforced error, though Gillibrand's own campaign skills had something to do with it, of course.

      But Sweeney crapped the bed, too. It's the same line of logic that would explain why I didn't pick Michael Patrick Flanagan over Dan Rostenkowski in 1994. Sweeney was no Rosty, but the same dynamic applies.

      "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
      Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

      by Steve Singiser on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:57:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  that one's close to my heart... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonV, KingofSpades

      born, raised, and currently live in the district, which had i think exactly two terms of dem representation in about a century - ned pattison won in the '74 election against an opponent who was too old and ill to even show up for a debate, i believe, and i think he won re-election in '76, but that's it. other than that it was the hard, hard right gerald solomon and then assweeney. living in the district in '06 i agree with the assessment that gillibrand "sort of came out of nowhere" - as late as august/sept you saw virtually no yard signs or bumper stickers for her anywhere, and tons of such for sweeney. when i began talking about gillibrand's candidacy with friends and relatives (the organization i worked for at the time was working for her) none of them had heard of her, and these were for the most part relatively well-informed people who regularly vote. sweeney ran well ahead in all the polling, i think the last one tightened some but he was still ahead. sweeney did implode but given the history of the district and his profile this was regarded as a big upset in these parts. and the district went back to red in '10, though it's been changed a lot via redistricting for this election.

      another campaign i worked on was too local for inclusion on this list but it really was regarded as a massive upset, and that was david soares defeating incumbent albany county d.a. paul clyne in 2004 in the democratic primary, which, in albany, is basically the general election. soares really did come out of nowhere. when he told clyne he was running (soares worked for clyne as an assistant d.a.) clyne literally laughed in face before firing him. clyne was old-school albany dem machine as it gets. no one, and i mean no one took soares seriously. in fact, even i remember thinking, when my director told me we were going to be working on this campaign, well this one's a noble but lost cause. soares campaigned his ass off, a well-oiled door-to-door operation was developed, etc., etc. at a family event a couple of days before the election i got a little tipsy and the subject of the election came up, people knew i was involved and asked if i honestly thought he had a snowball's chance in hell. "he's gonna kick clyne's ass on tuesday" i told them. they all thought i was crazy and that it was the wine talking but soares did in fact kick clyne's ass. working with the campaign nearly drove me to the brink of a nervous breakdown at a couple of points but of all the ones i ever worked on, it will always be my favorite.

  •  I suggest a more stringent definition of upset. (7+ / 0-)

    I don't think cases where people say, "No one would have seen this coming a year ago," even though we knew it was getting more competitive, or a case sof a lean Republican going blue or vice-versa qualify as true upsets.  When I think of upsets, I think of results that no one thought would happen on election, the "How the fuck did that happen?" results.  These are the races that the media calls immediately or no one paid attention to.  

    One that comes to mind is the 2008 race in VA-05 between Virgil Goode and Tom Perriello.  I remember the AP calling that one immediately on Election Night only for Perriello to win.

    •  Good one (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      Also, what about when Rob Simmons beat Sam Gejdenson?

      "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that." - J.S. Mill

      by dmsarad on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:39:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  To expand... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z

      ...for this reason, I don't really consider cases like Childers' victory or the Georgia Senatorial runoff in 1992 as upsets because we knew they were competitive on Election Day.  Other cases you list like Shea-Porter (hopefully, soon to be back in the House), do qualify as upsets.

      •  But that is just it (0+ / 0-)

        in regards to MS 01 we weren't even supposed to be competitive in such a red seat.

        Now if you were talking about Childer's predecessor Roger Wicker then I'd agree with you and say that Wicker's win in 1994 would not be rated as an upset

        In the general election, Wicker defeated Fulton attorney Bill Wheeler, capturing 63 percent of the vote,[5] making him the first Republican to represent the 1st District in over a century. However, this was not considered an upset, as the 1st has always been a rather conservative district (especially in the Memphis suburbs). The last time it supported a Democrat for president was in 1976, when Jimmy Carter carried the district. Before then, Mississippi had not supported the official Democratic candidate since 1956 (it voted for George Wallace in 1968). Although Whitten had a nearly unbreakable hold on the district, it had been considered very likely that he would be succeeded by a Republican once he retired.

        “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”- President Eisenhower

        by lordpet8 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:05:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Doesn't matter if we weren't supposed (0+ / 0-)

          to be competitive. There were extenuating circumstances and Childers was competitive and it was hardly surprising when he won, because he came in considered a slight favorite at that point.

          "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

          by ArkDem14 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:03:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Oh Golly, 285... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheUnknown285, GayHillbilly, ArkDem14

      How in THE HELL did I forget Perriello?!?! Wow, that's an unforced error on me. That should have easily made the list.

      "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
      Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

      by Steve Singiser on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:58:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Michael Patrick Flanagan. (7+ / 0-)

    That was a deep-blue district and he was running against a powerful incumbent (Dan Rostenkowski.)  That had to have ranked up there with Steve Stockman in terms of pure shock value.

    Plus, Flanagan has the bonus of birthing Rod Blagojevich, who trounced him in 1996.

    Joseph Cao ranks up there as well... won as a Republican in a very blue district in a very blue year (albeit, against a scandal-tarred incumbent...)

    28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:25:49 PM PDT

  •  It just misses the 20 year cutoff (12+ / 0-)

    But I don't think there was a bigger political upset than Paul Wellstone beating Rudy Boschwitz for Senate in MN in 1990.

    That was the biggest underdog candidacy ever, and it wasn't even a wave. Boschwitz was the only defeated incumbent in the Senate that year.  It was the only seat that even changed parties.

    The election was supposed to be Mondale v. Boschwitz, but when Mondale decided against running, the DFL was stuck with an obscure college professor. They tried to recruit other candidates, but Wellstone already had enough committed delegates at the convention to block any other candidates.

    If I recall, he was running 10-15% down in September and then closed the gap in October to a few points. Then Boschwitz went negative and rather stupidly, at one point accusing Wellstone of being in bed with the Crips and Bloods street gangs and then unbelievably claiming he didn't know that they were black gangs. Then he sent that famous letter to his Jewish supporters attacking Wellstone for marrying a Christian.

    It was the greatest political upset of the last 25 years at least.

    Politics ain't beanbag--Mr. Dooley

    by LeftCoastTimm on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:32:10 PM PDT

  •  Tom Foley's defeat was more malignant than (9+ / 0-)

    I think it was discussed in this diary . . . Foley was the first real time GOPers applied their "cut the head's off" strategy of vilifying every and all Democratic leaders. Nancy Pelosi is only the most recent example.

    For those of us that remember, they were unmerciful in 1994, and the braggadocio about that win over Foley went to no small length to get them where they are today: complete monsters with nothing else on their agenda beyond destroying any opposition.

    •  Didn't Say It Wasn't Malignant.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It was awful (and since, then, the Dems actually have reciprocated where they could, in gunning for Mitch McConnell's seat in '08). But I just didn't think it was a total shocker. Foley repped a very marginal district, and his opponent was (for that era) extraordinarily well funded.

      "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
      Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

      by Steve Singiser on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:02:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Still he did put up a good fight (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KingofSpades, Steve Singiser

        I also don't think Foley realized in time that he had a real race on his hands till it was to late

        He still carried Spokane in his 1994 race

        “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”- President Eisenhower

        by lordpet8 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:08:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  what stung more was the fact that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ArkDem14, chrississippi
      In the 1996 elections, the Democrats mounted a serious bid to regain the seat Foley had held for 30 years, but Nethercutt won by an unexpectedly large 12-point margin even as Bill Clinton narrowly carried the district.
      and this seat still continues to elude us, all while the dem-leaning Spokane still remains in the district (albeit the district has trended more R with the 2002/2012 maps vs the old 1992 one)

      “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”- President Eisenhower

      by lordpet8 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:12:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Eastern WA is EXTREMELY conservative (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The amazing thing isn't so much that Foley lost as it is that he managed to hold that seat for 30 years in the first place, and that the Democrats elected him speaker knowing partisan reality could come around to bite him in the ass one day. The nearest analogy would be if the Republicans had elected, say, Jim Leach speaker - he won easily for decades, but still, a Republican who represented Iowa City was never going to be completely safe. That they never make that mistake has a lot to do with why we so often find ourselves with PR disasters like that and they rarely do.

        Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

        by RamblinDave on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:19:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Feingold '92 (10+ / 0-)

    Russ Feingold defeats Jim Moody and Joe Checota in the '92 Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary, then defeats incumbent R Bob Kasten in November.

    •  Kinda sad his tenure ended with a whimper (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WisJohn, Matt Z, GayHillbilly

      and Wisconsin's in bad shape today.

    •  Strangely... (0+ / 0-)

      (And this could be a function of trying to remember my college days), I always assumed in '92 that Feingold had that seat won. I have no idea why. Unnatural confidence, even at age 19. Heh.

      "Every one is king when there's no one left to pawn" (BRMC)
      Contributing Editor, Daily Kos/Daily Kos Elections

      by Steve Singiser on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:03:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In November? He did. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Steve Singiser

        Bob Kasten was never really entrenched. He won the seat in 1980 because it was 1980, and he got 51% in 1986 - not bad for a Republican in a bluish state in 1986, but still. Feingold's win in the Primary was quite a suprise, though.

        Incidentally, besides benefitting from all the mudslinging between the other two Dems, Feingold also had a good reputation among progressive activists because he had established himself as a staunch opponent of some of Tommy Thompson's more heartless initiatives in the state Senate. An early example of how being an unapologetic liberal was not a political death sentence, or at least didn't have to be. Would that we had more like that now.

        Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

        by RamblinDave on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:23:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Little bit down in the weeds, but (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cheerio2, Odysseus, Mark27, kat herder

    WI Assembly District 72 in 2010. Partly because it was 2010, and because the indy got like 12%, Rep. Marlin Schneider (D), who was first elected in 1970, was defeated by a 35 year-old Republican.

    Farm boy who hit the city to go to college, WI-03 (home, voting), WI-02 (college), -7.88, -4.26,

    by WisJohn on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:36:25 PM PDT

  •  Jim Webb defeating George Allen (13+ / 0-)

    people forget Allen was considered one of if not the front runner for the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination. He had the DC establishment (who knew him from VA), the Southern base, and the resume (Governor + Senator). He was the one guy who could have knocked off McCain if he hadn't been beat.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:38:45 PM PDT

    •  Macaca. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      annieli, Matt Z, Mark27, lordpet8

      That is all.  Once Allen pulled that word out of his ass, Webb beating him was no longer THAT shocking.

      28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

      by TDDVandy on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:42:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, but to a certain extent (5+ / 0-)

        Allen also let his national profile get to his head and was running a rather phoned-in, entitled campaign even before the great Macaca moment.

        Of course, Jim Webb's campaign wasn't anything to write home about it either, which is probably why his margin of victory was so tiny.  That he became a US Senator was, I believe, as much a shock to him as to any other observer, and that's why I wasn't surprised that he declined a run for a second term.  I like the guy, but frankly, I'm not sure he wanted to be a Senator in the first place.

      •  Agreed.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lordpet8, RamblinDave

        It was becoming clear in the final month of the campaign that Webb was gonna win.  But certainly when looked at from early 2006 when the Democrats were considering running Ben Affleck against Allen, it would have been impossible to imagine Allen losing.

    •  I've always believed... (0+ / 0-)

      ...that losing his Senate seat didn't really doom Allen's presidential ambitions at all. He could have argued that he was the victim of a "liberal media lynching" and the Taliban wing of the GOP would have lapped it all up. Would have been interesting to see what would have happened if he had run in '08 in any case.

      Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

      by RamblinDave on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 09:25:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  McNerney v. Pombo in '06 (9+ / 0-)

    A political novice, with massive grassroots support and no "help" at all from the DCCC (actually, maybe that's why he won) took out a member of the House Republican leadership, an entrenched seven-termer who chaired the House Resources Committee.

    When McNerney arrived in DC in January '07, he was admiringly referred to as "The Dragon Slayer."

    •  That's true (0+ / 0-)

      But I think in spite of Pombo's big margins in the past, that district was actually sorta swingy by 2006.

      28, white male, TX-26 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

      by TDDVandy on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:52:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Certainly, swingier than Pombo thought (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        McNearny made a plausible run in 2004, his first entry into politics.  And yeah, Rahm Emanuel didn't do anybody any favors when he tried to parachute a (well-meaning) carpet bagger in 2006, even though Jerry was running again.

        But I don't think it was so shocking that Jerry won in 2006.  2006 was a year of grassroots-driven campaigns, and Jerry ran one of the best of them.  It might have surprised you, but only if you weren't looking.  Those of us who were helping out (and were looking) knew that Pombo was vulnerable, and enough people worked hard enough to end Pombo's career in politics.

        Mitt Romney is a T-1000 sent back from the Future as a harbinger of the upcoming Robot Apocolypse.

        by mbayrob on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:19:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was helping McNerney out (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bumiputera, babaloo, mbayrob, KingofSpades

          I was only 12 and it was the first campaign I worked for actually. I saw that the national people all thought Pombo would retain the seat until October. In October though, I was on the ground and saw that there was definitely lots of support for McNerney and not too much support for Pombo. Pombo even complained about people coming in from the Bay Area (like me,) to campaign against him. There was lots of enthusiasm though and the ads from the Defenders of Wildlife were very good (including one with George Washington chopping down the cherry tree and lying about it because he said if Pombo could lie, he could lie too.)

          Then I tried to help phonebank right before the election but they told me they did not need help. Then on election night, I saw McNerney won. The grassroots definitely helped out there!

          For more election analysis and redistricting maps, check out my blog CA-2 (former CA-6) College in CA-37

          by Alibguy on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:21:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  And Pombo was the only (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prof Haley, babaloo, cheerio2, Alibguy

      Committee chair to lose his seat that year.

      There is a major lesson for the beltway suits in the McNerney victory, but they haven't learned diddlysquat yet.

      The grassroots CAN and does deliver when we're given half a chance.

      We were there for McNerney, and we'll be there again. And again.

      Think. It's not illegal - yet.

      by jpw on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 10:09:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, forgetting the (0+ / 0-)

      Big money environmental  groups dumped into anti-Pombo ads, it was an unaided grassroots effort.

      "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

      by ArkDem14 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:07:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What about Quinn over Brady, IL-GOV 2010? (5+ / 0-)

    Most predicted Brady was going to win: in addition to being a Republican wave year, there was still a lot of Blago backlash.

    Quinn won by around 32,000 votes.

    Yes we can! Yes we did! Yes we will!

    by Sister Havana on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 07:51:11 PM PDT

    •  Brady was too extreme and well publicized as such (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Tthe Republican primary where 4 candidates were within 2% of each other for the win was more impressive.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:45:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Harry Reid over Sharron Angle (8+ / 0-)

    Reid was polling extremely low for much of the year, and it was looking like Angle was going to win in the angry Tea Party wave, but he refused to drop out, and the fightin' boxer pulled out a definitive win at the end.  

    •  he hand picked Angle didn't he? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, cheerio2

      I think that before the GOP primary he helped her win an upset because he knew he had a good chance against the 'bagger nut.

      America could have chosen to be the worlds doctor, or grocer. We choose instead to be her policeman. pity

      by cacamp on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:21:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can we count primary elections? (6+ / 0-)

    If so, I consider the primary election for my seat in Congress, WA-3, in 1994 to be a pretty big upset.

    With the primary only 19 days away, the Republican running under our states old partisan jungle primary system dropping out in scandal, state Senator Linda Smith (R) was able to mount a write in effort across the formally much more sprawling and diverse district and win the primary, going onto defeat Rep. Jolene Unsoeld (D) a month and a half later.

    I would consider that, if not an upset, a remarkable feat, to win an election as a write in with only 19 days. Smith is the first politican I remember meeting, even have a picture of her with me when I was like 3 or 4ish, not long before she ran for Congress.

    Age 24, WA-3 (Cowlitz), Republican, Romney Supporter, elected PCO, engaged.

    by KyleinWA on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:02:27 PM PDT

  •  Tonight's episode of The Newsroom... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    deals specifically with the rise of the Tea Party in 2010, and should have quite a bit of stuff for DKE Kossacks to enjoy.

  •  Hmmm, I think the list is great (12+ / 0-)

    But there are a few other races I consider to be great upsets in American politics over the past few decades.  

    1.  Kirsten Gillibrand defeats John Sweeney for reelection in then NY-20 in 2006.  Gillibrand was an underdog throughout her race in a Congressional District that was the most heavily Republican in the state.  I know that polling had been trending in her direction towards the end that put the race on the radar but I still thought it was likely that Sweeney would hold on (even if narrowly).  I won't forget my jaw dropping when I saw her victory on CNN's ticker.  

    2.  Jim Webb defeats George Allen for reelection in 2006.  I have to include this because it still brings me some very joyous memories.  

    3.  Tom Pierello defeats Virgil Goode in then VA-5 in 2008.  I honestly did not see this coming at all and I'm still shocked by it.  Goode was heavily favored to win reelection.  Pierello wasn't on anyone's radar and the few public polls had Goode far ahead.  Yet Pierello triumphed.  Frankly, I'm kinda shocked by the fact that Pierello only lost by 3%-4% in 2010 because I assumed he was gone from the moment he won (he lost by far less than other incumbent Congressmembers who I assumed were safe).  

    4.  Tammy Baldwin wins then WI-2 in 1998.  No one expected that an openly LGBT candidate could win a race for Congress.  Baldwin was running in a Republican held District (albeit for an open seat).  That year, another openly LGBT candidate, Christine Kehoe, ran for Congress against Brian Bilbray.  No one expected either to win but the assumption was that if either one won, it would be Kehoe, and that Kehoe would probably lose by less.  Kehoe lost (albeit narrowly, 49%-47%, setting up the odious Bilbray's defeat in 2000 by Susan Davis).  But Baldwin prevailed, becoming the first openly gay person (out at the time of their initial election) elected to Congress in U.S. history.  

    5.  Kamala Harris defeats Steve Cooley in 2010 for California Attorney General.  She trailed in polls throughout the race to the heavily favored Cooley.  No one thought that the voters of California would elect an African American woman and a San Francisco liberal (who opposed the death penalty) would be elected the state's top cop.  And not in a red year like 2010 was.  Yet, against all the odds, she prevailed.  Only thing though was because of the month long counting process, there wasn't the same sort of election night moment in this race.  

    6.  The Tony Knowles of 2010 (and Knowles is only so admirable....he did lose to Sarah Palin afterall) has to be Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.  While polls showed the Illinois Senate race was a tossup till the very end, the Republican nominee for Governor led Quinn in the polls wire to wire, often with large leads.  Quinn suffered from high unpopularity, the shadow of his predecessor Rod Blagoevich, and the terrible economy.  Plus, we were just slaughtered in the Midwest in 2010.  Yet, like the Lakers in Game 4 of the 2002 Western Conference Finals, he seemingly made it close at the end and somehow scored the political equivalent of a buzzer beating threepointer (for the first lead in the entire game).  

    7.  I guess I should include a Republican on my list so I'll include Lisa Murkowski (I) defeating Joe Miller (R) and Scott Mcwhatever his name is (D) as a write in candidate.  In this kind of polarized environment, to win as an independent is tough.  To do it after a demoralizing primary defeat and as a write in is even tougher.  

    8.  Carolyn Maloney (D) defeats Bill Green (R) in NY-14 (well I think it was 1992) in 1992.  Green was the longtime incumbent in New York City's silk stocking district, which covered the Upper Eastside (once a Republican bastion).  Not only was the Congressional District Republican but so were just about all the state and local legislative seats encompassed within it.  Green had been in office since defeating Bella Abzug in a 1978 special election to replace Ed Koch (one of the only Democrats to ever hold the District) who had resigned to become Mayor of New York City.  Green, a moderate Republican, was considered safe and the race was completely off the radar.  Carolyn Maloney was then a little known City Councilwoman (only recently elected in a council district that only covered part of the Congressional District...part of it was in the Upper Eastside, the rest of was in Spanish Harlem outside NY-14).  Yet, on election night, Maloney (likely helped by Bill Clinton's coattails) prevailed.  

    9.  Jerry McNerney (D) defeats Richard Pombo (R) in then CA-11 in 2006.  CA-11 had been specifically drawn to be a Republican held District.  Moreover, it had been drawn purposefully to keep Pombo personally safe.  Pombo was exceedingly corrupt but was still heavily favored to win reelection.  In 2004, he had defeated his same opponent by a 61%-39% margin.  Yet, in 2006, McNerney prevailed.  

    10.  Not a full upset as the end result was a defeat but Antonio Villaraigosa's first round primary victory in the 2001 Los Angeles Mayoral Race.  2001 was an interesting race because of the initial analysis of the race.  Long time City Attorney, Jim Hahn (D), was heavily favored in the election.  He had wide leads in the polls and was seen as extremely likely to win an open seat (upon Richard Riordan (R) being term-limited).  The only question was whether Hahn would win outright in the first round or whether a crowded field of prominent candidates (including Congressman Xavier Beccerra (D), State Controller Kathleen Connell (D) and longtime ex-Republican Councilman  Joel Wachs (D)) would deny him the neccessary 50%+1 and force him into a runoff against some sacrificial lamb.  The most likely sacrificial lamb was self-funding Dick Cheney look-a-like Steve Soboroff (R) who spent vast sums of money and had the backing of the popular incumbent Riordan.  It looked clear by the time the race kicked into high gear that the race would be Hahn v. Soboroff though Hahn still held a wide lead in the polls showing he'd likely be the winner in the first round.  

    Lost in the mix was the true liberal and progressive champion, little known former California Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa.  Raised in East LA by a single mom and having struggled as a young man, the 5'6 Villaraigosa didn't look like mayoral material.  He was unlikely to be elected mayor (and some questioned why he was running rather than run for an easier Council seat or perhaps a State Senate seat).  Villaraigosa may have been ignored by the news media.  But he didn't let that or being far back in the polls deter him from outworking every single one of his rivals and running a strong campaign, building up grassroots support, racking up a string of big endorsements, and performing well in the debates (intervening to stop a near fist fight post-debate between Hahn and Soboroff).  Whatever the critics may say about him, no politician campaigns harder than Villaraigosa does.  

    Still, even as excitement and momentum built for him, he was a certain longshot heading into that May election day.  That night, the election results told the story of the election.  When the first results were released, Hahn was far away in the lead, followed by Soboroff in a clear second place, and then Villaraigosa trailing in third.  I was sitting in my bedroom on my computer when my sister came in to tell me the sobering news.  This was at 10 pm and these were absentee ballots (first to be counted and reported).  In the next hour though, something happenned.  As the precinct results began to pour in, Villaraigosa moved into 2nd place, surpassing Soboroff.  By 11pm, I was in bed, watching the NBC 4 news and they reported a close race on a razor's edge between Hahn and Villaraigosa.  I was for Villaraigosa but the best I hoped for was that he would finish in second place.  I couldn't believe that he was now actually competing for first place.  As I lay in bed and heard the sounds of non-stop helicopters flying over my home, I saw the results continue to change.  Between 11 pm and 11:30, Villaraigosa went from a close second to leaping clearly in first.  He not only had made it into the runoff but he had defied all the odds and all political prognostications and won the first round and by a searing 30%-24% margin too.  A thrilling upset.  

    Now, Villaraigosa would ultimately lose in the second round (fairly narrowly after a successful race baiting campaign by Hahn).  But that primary still remains a great upset.  And from that great upset and his narrow defeat in the second round, he would come back to win by 19% in a rematch with the incumbent just 4 years later.  

    Check out my new blog:

    by SoCalLiberal on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:05:09 PM PDT

    •  Pierello (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Matt Z, SoCalLiberal

      I really agree a lot with you here. I thought he would lose easily in 2010. So many folks lost by greater margins, and he only lost by 9000 votes in a red district. I hope we see him pop up somewhere again.

      Farm boy who hit the city to go to college, WI-03 (home, voting), WI-02 (college), -7.88, -4.26,

      by WisJohn on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:32:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Green wasn't a surprise if you read the (0+ / 0-)

      Almanacs from the time. He was widely seen as an anachronism, and it was anticipated that redistricting would take him out, which it did. They gave him areas across the river that didn't know him and that he didn't know and that ensured his defeat.

  •  NY-26 Special Election (2011) (5+ / 0-)

    I'm amazed that this wasn't mentioned on the list. This race was certainly an upset. It was (under the last map as well as the new one) the most Republican district in the state at R+6, and almost everyone immediately wrote the race off because of its ancestrally Republican nature and its older population (I held out hope though when I heard the news of Lee's resignation, unlikely a victory as it was :) ). For the race to go from a nearly certain Republican hold to a flip toward the Democrats in such a short span of time certainly seems like an upset to me.

    "You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into." -- Me; The Pragmatic Progressive (IN-4); Economic Left/Right: -7.12; Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.44

    by AndySonSon on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:05:57 PM PDT

    •  I was thinking the same thing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      NY-26 needs to be the template for the Presidential and all down-ticket races this year.

      The main reason for the upset was the Republican's endorsement of the Ryan Budget, plain and simple.

      Well, now the R Presidential candidate has endorsed the Ryan Budget and the result should be the same -- upsets and a landslide for the President.

      Unfortunately, the other tusnami is the Citizens United billionaire orgy of spending.  We will hear endlessly the lie of the 2010 elections, "Obama cut $500B from Medicare."

      So far I think the Dems have gotten the message by pushing Bain relentlessly.  But the Ryan budget is a fat target, just as it was in NY-26.

      The GOP: "You can always go to the Emergency Room."

      by Upper West on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:35:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree (0+ / 0-)

      Frankly, BOTH special congressional elections in New York in 2011--NY-26 in May and NY-9 in September--were pretty surprising upsets.

  •  this & that (0+ / 0-)

    Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) ( I think he is the chair of the democrats national governor's association )
    said on abcteevee that Obama is not running against the Almighty he is running against the alternative and the alternative is Romney. That's calling into question Romney's character!


    Rachel Maddow explains Ron Paul in next week's NE GOP convention might get enough delegates ( 5 states) to challenge
    Romney for the nomination in Tampa

    There's no reason to suffer through the grave injustice of U.S. universal health care when there's a robust sampling of countries that aren't industrialized and will happily allow you to not experience Obamacare.

    by anyname on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:31:26 PM PDT

  •  Patty Murray over Rod Chandler, WA-Sen 1992 (3+ / 0-)

    Yes, it was the "Year of the Woman", but that is known only in retrospect.  Murray was a little-known state senator who announced against Sen. Brock Adams, who was caught in a sex scandal of sorts and decided not to run.  She won the primary against better-known candidates but then was up against Chandler, a fairly moderate Republican ten-term Congressman who was a former broadcaster, so well-known outside his district as well.  Then, in their first televised debate, when asked to deliver his summation, Chandler for reasons known only to him, sang Roger Miller's Dang Me.  And from that moment on, everything swung Murray's way.  

  •  I remember Sanchez defeating Dornan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Seneca Doane

    His accusations of fraud were very blatantly racist, he didn't even try to hide it. It was an upset, but in some ways it wasn't that surprising, because of how the district was trending and Dornan being way too conservative for what was even then the least Republican district in Orange County.

    26, Male, CA-24 (new CA-26), DK Elections Black Caucus Chair.

    by DrPhillips on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 08:48:20 PM PDT

    •  yeah it wasn't that big a deal that Dornan (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ArkDem14, RamblinDave

      won that district. The district since it was created after the 1960 census has always had around a five point registration advantage of registered democrats and registered republicans.

      Since its creation, its been represented by democrats for 38 of the last 50 years. In fact, I never quite got how he was able to unseat a sitting incumbent in 1984 when he was a notoriously weak incumbent in his strong republican 27th district. He won 54% in 76 and 51% in both 78 and 80 in a district that gave Ford a 20 point victory in 1976 and Reagan a 27 point victory in 1980.

      also known as "AquarianLeft" on RedRacingHorses

      by demographicarmageddon on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:00:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I recall Dornan had some (0+ / 0-)

        liberal environmental positions and occasionally pro-labor positions, no?

        "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

        by ArkDem14 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:11:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That election should be marked as 1996 (0+ / 0-)

      in its header, not as 2006.

      Pro-Occupy Democratic Candidate for California State Senate, District 29 & Occupy OC Civic Liaison.

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinsky

      by Seneca Doane on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 05:58:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cravaack defeats Oberstar. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    v2aggie2, The Caped Composer

    36 year incumbent going down to someone who now lives in NH? You don't yell at your constituents.

    We'll get you this year, Chipper!

    Farm boy who hit the city to go to college, WI-03 (home, voting), WI-02 (college), -7.88, -4.26,

    by WisJohn on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 09:44:08 PM PDT

  •  Cuomo vs. Pataki? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you were living in New York at the time, you weren't surprised.  You said it yourself, Cuomo was all set to go for the US Presidency, but, at the last minute, he didn't.  In fact, in one of those years, he actually had a plane at the airport, engines running, ready to take him to New Hampshire to announce his candidacy, but, he didn't, claiming he was worried about the NY State Senate, GOP controlled, causing him problems, not passing the state budget etc., not exactly a profile in courage.

    I always liked hearing Cuomo speak, his heart was in the right place, but, he was very cautious by nature.  It was all the drama over him twice getting ready to run for President, and then not doing it, that made him look a bit silly.

    New Yorkers like big strong leaders, you Texans out there can relate to this.  Cuomo was also running for a 4th term, which is just too much.

    Finally, what is his legacy as governor?  He was competent, but, there was a lot of theater and self-aggrandizing.  

    •  True points (0+ / 0-)

      but it's still hard to believe that he was toppled by the unknown George Pataki and the nutbag Betsy McCaughey.

    •  It's ironic that his son (0+ / 0-)

      seems to take after his father exactly, only not as much of a champion for working class people. But the Andrew Cuomo definitely lacks courage on the important issues, but he's perhaps a bit more ambitious than his father, and a bit better at self-aggrandizing, (sell out the Legislative maps, leave congressional maps to the courts, and pass a budget with major concessions to Republicans, then get gay marriage passed and bask in the applause as a champion of Democratic policies and a brave and decisive leader).

      "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

      by ArkDem14 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:15:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm Assuming We're Looking At Just 1992-2012.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Caped Composer

    That would exclude the 1990 race that would be #1 even above 1998 MN-Gov....and that's Wellstone over Boschwitz in the MN-Sen race.

    But within the discussed time frame, the near upset of Dan Mongiardo over Jim Bunning seems like a good choice.

    Another shocker nobody saw coming was the 2002 GA-Gov victory of Sonny Perdue over Roy Barnes.  Perdue not only won, he won handily by 7 points.

  •  Ventura infamously said... (3+ / 0-)

    ... the streets of St. Paul were laid out by drunken Irishmen. Needless to say, that went over like a lead balloon!

    Yep, he was an idiot, but he was certainly colorful! Mittster could learn something from The Body.

    Republicanism in a nutshell: "Mine!" and "No!" - any toddler

    by DancinMan on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:06:50 PM PDT

  •  Michigan 2010 Gubernatorial Primaries (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe not the greatest upsets, but the 2010 gubernatorial primaries here in Michigan closed really late.  PPP seemed to hint at both the eventual winners pulling it out, but everyone else had both the races out of reach of the eventual winners.  Besides the PPP polling, the surge for Virg Bernero for the Dems didn't really get detected until the week or so before the primary.  Same for Rick Snyder who'd been running a distant thrid for months until the last week in July.  The percentage of the wins for both were also understated significantly.  Virg ended up winning by 17 points when he'd polled winning by single digits in the two polls that had him winning.  Rick ended up winning by 10 points when the best polls had him winning by one or two points.

  •  Cao was a massive upset (4+ / 0-)

    I was there for that election and it was a complete surprise I don't think anyone saw coming.  Cao had just gotten fifth place running for state representative the previous year, so it's not like he was a strong candidate.  

    Cao's win is pretty much impossible to replicate in a district like that.  Not only did he run against an ethically tarnished incumbent but many voters stayed home out of confusion.  The general election was pushed back until December due to Hurricane Gustav with the Democratic primary runoff on November 6.  Between the later date and the fact that Louisiana had briefly switched from it's jungle primary to the more conventional party primary system, many people who voted for Jefferson in November thought they had just reelected him.  Those voters may have shown up in December for him if they knew there was a general election then.

    The fact that Obama had just won probably hurt Jefferson too.  Many of Jefferson's supporters argued that it was vital for an African American to hold the seat, but after electing the first black President a Congressional seat was probably seemed a lot less important than it may have before.  The Democratic victory the previous month also likely dampened enthusiasm among Democrats.  In the city's more conservative areas turnout was relatively good, while in the more Democratic parts it was anemic.  This kind of thing often happens, but the difference seemed much more stark than before.  Cao almost certainly would not have won if any of these conditions were different.  

    22, male, new CA-18 (home and voting there), LA-2 (college)

    by Jeff Singer on Sun Jul 08, 2012 at 11:15:14 PM PDT

    •  1994 IL-5 General Election (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KingofSpades, ArkDem14

      Longtime incumbent Dan Rostenkowski (D) lost re-election to Michael Patrick Flanagan (R) in IL-5, an overwhelmingly-Democratic congressional district based in Chicago's North Side. Rostenkowski's involvement in the Congressional Post Office Scandal contributed heavily to his defeat.

      Speaking of Melissa Bean (D), her 2010 loss to Joe Walsh (R) in IL-8 was nothing short of an embarrassment for Illinois Democrats. I'm surprised Bean didn't get mentioned twice on here, first for defeating Phil Crane (R) in 2004, and then losing to Joe Walsh in 2010.

      Lane Evans (D) defeating Ken McMillian (R, unseated incumbent Tom Railsback in the Republican primary) in IL-17 in 1982 was a big upset, given the fact that Northwestern Illinois was regarded as a Republican stronghold in those days.

      The biggest upset in a state legislative race in Illinois that I can think of is maybe SD-52 being won by Mike Frerichs (D) in 2006. I remember at least one local media outlet in East Central Illinois calling that race on election night for Judy Myers (R), and then having to turn around and report that Frerichs had won the next morning! There haven't been too many upsets for state legislative races in Illinois.

      "We don't have government anymore, we have an auction." -Lori Compas

      by DownstateDemocrat on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:58:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is Frerichs still in office? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Hail to the king, baby.

        by KingofSpades on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:06:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          He was reelected in 2010

          “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”- President Eisenhower

          by lordpet8 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:41:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wow! (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            He did better in 2010 than 2006!  Why was that, was Senator Judith Myers (also the name of the older sister of Michael Myers from the "Halloween" movies) a very entrenched incumbent?

            Hail to the king, baby.

            by KingofSpades on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:49:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  IL-SD-52 2006 was an open-seat race (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lordpet8, KingofSpades

              Rick Winkel was the Republican incumbent who decided not to seek a second term to the State Senate, so Judy Myers, who ran a extremely strong campaign as the Republican nominee, lost in an absolute shocker, given the fact that The News-Gazette, a major newspaper in that region of Illinois, endorsed Myers.

              Rick Winkel himself pulled off an upset a few months ago when, after suspending his Republican primary campaign for Champaign County Circuit Clerk after the deadline in which he could take his name off of the ballot, somehow won the primary against Stephanie Holderfield, a Tea Party member of the Champaign County Board. Republicans ended up slating Katie Malone Blakeman as the replacement nominee, who is currently running against Democrat Barbara Wysocki for Champaign County Circuit Clerk.

              "We don't have government anymore, we have an auction." -Lori Compas

              by DownstateDemocrat on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:11:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  looks like she was a former St. Senator (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KingofSpades, ArkDem14

              So I guess this was an open seat race. I can't really find any info on who was the previous incumbent. I wish there was a decent database for all the state legislative races

              Though I did find this little clipping about the 2006 election

              Sen. Michael Frerichs
              The Gifford Democrat will represent Senate District 52 covering parts of Champaign and Vermilion counties. The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform shows the three-way race cost a combined $1.9 million. Frerichs defeated former state Sen. Judith Myers of Danville by 542 votes. Third-party candidate Joseph Parnarauskis of Westville got 1,894 votes, State Board of Elections records show. Frerichs is Champaign County auditor and a former county board member. He graduated from Yale before studying Chinese and teaching English in Taiwan. He previously managed a local engineering firm, directed a nonprofit nursing home and was a volunteer firefighter, according to the Legislative Research Unit.

              “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”- President Eisenhower

              by lordpet8 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:47:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Myers was redistricted out of her StSen district (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

       a result of the post-2000 Census redistricting. Prior to 2002, Champaign-Urbana and Danville were in different state senate districts. SD-52 was drawn by a backup redistricting commission in 2001 (Republican Governor George Ryan and a split-control General Assembly couldn't agree on a redistricting plan) as combining most of Champaign and all of Urbana with the eastern half of "outer" Champaign County with the southern three-fourths of Vermilion County, including Danville.

                Rick Winkel won SD-52 for the Republicans in 2002, and decided not to run for a second term in 2006.

                "We don't have government anymore, we have an auction." -Lori Compas

                by DownstateDemocrat on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:07:53 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, he is. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Frerichs defeated Tea Party activist Al Reynolds (R) in 2010, and the redrawn district that he's running in this cycle against conservative political blogger John Bambenek (R) looks like a supercell thunderstorm, by the way. The old SD-52 was basically the southern three-fourths of Vermilion County and Urbana + most of Champaign + the eastern half of Champaign County.

          Here is a map of the old SD-52 (HD-103 + HD-104)

          Link to map of redrawn SD-52

          "We don't have government anymore, we have an auction." -Lori Compas

          by DownstateDemocrat on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:51:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Why couldn't Democrats have (0+ / 0-)

            gotten him to run in IL-14?

            "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

            by ArkDem14 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:17:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  You mean IL-13? (3+ / 0-)

              He was considering a run and came very close to jumping in but decided to stay close to home with his young children or something like that.

              27, Male, MA-08 (hometown MI-06)

              by bumiputera on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 11:26:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Frerichs's farm isn't in IL-13... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bumiputera, KingofSpades

                ...the farm that Frerichs lives on in northeastern Champaign County is in IL-15 and not IL-13, and that's probably why he didn't run. Also, Frerichs would be cut off from Danville (which is in IL-15) and a base of minority/labor support there if he chose to run in IL-13. The Champaign-Urbana urban core (approximately 55% of the new SD-52) is the only part of the new SD-52 that is in the new IL-13.

                David Gill, a emergency room doctor, is the Democratic nominee in IL-13 this cycle. Gill appears to be a DFA-backed candidate, as he has clashed with the DCCC on numerous occasions. Gill is a solid progressive, to say the least.

                The "Democratic" candidate in IL-15 this cycle is a Randall Terry-backed anti-abortion zealot named Angela Michael. She certainly wouldn't be permitted to caucus with the Democrats if she somehow got elected, and I don't think she'd even take her seat in Congress if she somehow got elected. She either ran or planned to run graphic anti-abortion ads in the St. Louis media market. Any pollster who tries to poll this race is absolutely stupid for doing so, but Shimkus, the Republican incumbent, will probably get over 90% of the vote this cycle, as most Democrats in IL-15, including myself, will undervote (that is, show up at the polls and not vote for either Shimkus or Michael for U.S. House) in the general election.

                It probably would be a waste for the DCCC to put money and resources into IL-15 had a legitimate Democrat decided to run against Shimkus, such as Frerichs, Lynn Foster, Brandon Phelps, etc.

                "We don't have government anymore, we have an auction." -Lori Compas

                by DownstateDemocrat on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:44:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Upsets (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KingofSpades, lordpet8, ArkDem14

    2 that come to mind :

    1st_ Ellen Tausher's 1996 upset of Bob Baker in CA- !0- the event that made McNerney over Pombo possible ten years later.

    2nd_ 1992 CA US Senate Full Term. Bruce Herschensohn has a lead over Barbara Boxer going into the last weekend and the momentum in his favor. Fri Morning, at a stop in Chico, Herschensohn (a Family Values Conservative) is confronted w/ photographic evidence of his patronage of Strip Clubs & admits it to the Press. His Momentum stalls and Boxer squeaks by to a 3 point victory. Four years later Chico is the site of Bob Dole's Stage Dive which effectively ends the 1996 Presidential Campaign.

    •  and add on the fact (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KingofSpades, ArkDem14

      that Boxer was tied down with the house banking scandal at the time too

      makes her win even more surprising

      “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”- President Eisenhower

      by lordpet8 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 02:17:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  1978 Primary, New Jersey: Bell beats Case (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KingofSpades, Bill W, ArkDem14

    In an early display of right wing strength in the Repug  party base, unknown Jeffrey Bell, a political consultant, knocked off venerable liberal Republican Senator Clifford Case, who had served since 1955. This insured the general election victory of newcomer Bill Bradley, who was expecting a difficult  race against  Case but easily defeated Bell.  Bradley was easily reelected in 1984. But in 1990,  after failing to take a stand on a Jersey tax issue. losing the NJEA endorsement over merit pay, & being perceived a wonk too concerned with issues like western state water rights, he barely beat Christine Todd Whitman, who you may remember as the briefly-serving EPA Director who declared Ground Zero air wasn't a health threat,

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:21:15 AM PDT

    •  I know it was more than 20 years ago (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but Bell win an indicator of things to come.

      "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

      by DJ Rix on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:23:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Whitman had a lot of hare-brained schemes. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ArkDem14, sapelcovits, DJ Rix

      She had to fill the pit created by her cross-the-board tax cuts, so she gambled the public pensions on Wall Street and lost significantly.  Then, amidst the budget crisis, she bought gold leaf for the state Capitol dome.

      Remember that Republicans had a solid grip on the state legislature for all of time in office.  Stuff like that wouldn't happen today.  To her credit, she did pass a few good environmental protections and vetoed a GOP-backed bill restricting the window in which one may get an abortion (although the GOP overrode her veto).

      Hail to the king, baby.

      by KingofSpades on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:12:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Were you around when Case was Senator? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DJ Rix

      What made him "liberal", out of curiosity?

      Hail to the king, baby.

      by KingofSpades on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:12:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was around. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        His opposition to Joseph McCarthy, his pro-civil rights voting record, & that he received many labor union endorsements. By today's standards he was more "liberal" than Bill Clinton. Case's daughter was a popular & somewhat eccentric figure around Rahway NJ until her sudden death a few years. She usually rode a bicycle. Took an active interest  in race relations. Other prominent Jersey Republicans who would now be outcasts include congressional reps Flo Dwyer & Matthew Rinaldo.

        "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

        by DJ Rix on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:09:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Another NJ upset: Holt v Pappas (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KingofSpades, DJ Rix

      1998 in a district that hadn't elected a Democrat in 20 years, and incumbent Mike Pappas may have done himself in when he composed a song praising Kenneth Starr and sang it on the floor of the house.  

  •  Wyoming Governor 2002 race (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KingofSpades, Gay In Maine, WisJohn

    another shocking victory/upset for dems

    It's truly amazing that we held the governorship in Wyoming of all places during much of the Bush Administration

    Republicans ran their leader/speaker of the state house Eli Bebout.

    Bebout launched negative attacks on the Democratic nominee, David Duane "Dave" Freudenthal, formerly of Thermopolis, a former United States Attorney in Cheyenne appointed by President Clinton. He attempted to make an issue of Freudenthal's ties to Clinton. Until the last days of the campaign, Bebout was considered the favorite. One highly inaccurate poll right after the primary had even shown Bebout with an 80-15 percent lead. Freudenthal pulled an upset, 92,662 votes (50 percent) to Bebout's 88,873 ballots (47.9 percent). Bebout won fifteen counties to Freudenthal's eight. The other 1.9 percent went to Libertarian Dave Dawson. In many Republican counties, Bebout ran far behind the norm for a GOP candidate. Some in the media questioned if Bebout's defeat was a slap at Vice President of the United States Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney, who came to Wyoming to campaign for Bebout the Sunday before the Tuesday election. Prognosticators generally said that negative attacks on Freudenthal by Bebout's supporters ultimately backfired.
    Freudenthal went on to win reelection in 2006 in a shocking 40 Point Margin

    “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.”- President Eisenhower

    by lordpet8 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:47:45 AM PDT

    •  Well, technically, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RamblinDave, KingofSpades

      Despite always getting crushed legislatively, Democrats have held the Governorship of Wyoming for 28 of the past 37 years, with three different wildly popular local Democratic governors.

      "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

      by ArkDem14 on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 08:21:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some other upsets: (4+ / 0-)

    - Linda Lingle (R) defeating Mazie Hirono (D) for Governor of Hawaii in 2002
    - Bill Frist (R) defeating three term Sen. Sasser (D) in the 1994 Tennessee senate race (2)
    - old Lawton Chiles (D) winning re-election as governor of Florida (versus Jeb Bush (D)) in 1994 was a bit of an upset
    - Dave Freudenthal (D) winning Gov. of Wyoming in 2002
    - Dave Heineman winning the GOP gubernatorial primary in Nebraska and upsetting the coronation of Tom Osborne as the GOP candidate

    Of course, although well outside of the 20 year scope, the biggest upset of the century was Harry Truman's re-election in 1948.

    Obama-Biden in 2012!

    by Frederik on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 01:15:08 AM PDT

  •  You left Pombo out! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Jerry McNerney d. Richard Pombo (CA-11), a powerful Tom Delay lieutenant from the Central Valley of California.  Having been given the Chair of the Resources Committee (Republicans stripped "Natural" from the name) for some dirty tricks for a Pombo buddy, he was a big threat to the environment, at every turn.  Nobody thought it was possible to uproot Pombo, but it happened!

    Grab all the joy you can. (exmearden 8/10/09)

    by Land of Enchantment on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:13:27 AM PDT

  •  Coverdell vs. Fowler (4+ / 0-)

    If you're going to include Coverdell vs. Fowler (1992), it's only fair to note a couple of things:
    1. Coverdell not only outspent Fowler during the runoff, he spent several times the legal limit. It was a classic example of Republican win-at-all-costs strategy - after all, what difference did any sort of slap on the wrist penalty make once they had won the election?
    2. The runoff was a holdover from the Jim Crow era, designed specifically to prevent liberal (read anti-segregation, or worse yet black) candidates from winning in a three-way race.

    In that light, I hardly think it counts as an upset - rather an early entry in the Republican Hall of Shame along with Florida 2000, New Hampshire 2002, etc.

    Certaines personnes disent qu'il y a une femme à blâmer, Mais je sais que c'est ma faute sacrément.

    by RamblinDave on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 04:35:59 AM PDT

  •  Obama vs Clinton???? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Man...yall really forgot how much of an inevitable candidate Clinton was in the summer/fall of  07. It was almost like she wss an incumbent president. As an Edwards supporter I remember being resigned to her winning. She had the money, the establishment and the name. For a black guy named Barack Hussein Obama to beat her is and was unreal.

  •  It's a little one... (0+ / 0-)

    but the Democratic primary in NY-26 in 2008 will always stand out for me.

    Remember that one? "Crazy" Jack Davis spent millions of his own dollars trying to take out the presumed mainstream Democratic nominee, Jon Powers...and when the dust settled that September evening, it was the almost-unknown third candidate on the ballot, Alice Kryzan, who had walked away with the nomination after voters were apparently disgusted with all the negative ads flying back and forth between Powers and Davis. I don't think anybody saw that one coming, least of all Alice Kryzan.

    With just a few weeks to mount a general-election race and little money to do it, Kryzan couldn't pull off a miracle in November against Chris "Shirtless Dude" Lee, but she only lost by 5 points, and one can argue that her race set the stage for Kathy Hochul to take the seat for the Democrats three years later after Lee imploded.

    Incidentally, Alice Kryzan died a month or so ago, at just 63.

    Intended to be a factual statement.

    by ipsos on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 07:00:37 AM PDT

    •  RIP Ms. Kryzan (0+ / 0-)

      I've read about her (her 5-point loss was pointed out pretty regularly in the MSM as a desperate attempt to render Kathy Hochul's victory shruggable), but despite the last name I never put two and two together that she was from Youngstown!  (My grandfather was born there, I grew up 15 miles away, and earned my graduate degree at Youngstown State University).  Small world, ain't it...

      •  Kryzan lost by 15, not 5 (0+ / 0-)

        not to minimize her upset.

        Male, currently staying in CA-24. Voting in RI-01, went to college in IL-01.

        by sapelcovits on Mon Jul 09, 2012 at 12:50:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right you are... (0+ / 0-)

          Lee 55, Kryzan 40, with 5 points going to Powers on the Working Families line.

          And don't get me started on Hochul...if we're here to elect "more and better Democrats," she's not exactly holding herself up as a "better" Democrat, what with voting to hold Eric Holder in contempt. I wouldn't be half surprised if she votes to repeal ACA tomorrow...and I will be completely surprised if her attempt to cast herself as "Republican lite" wins her re-election this fall.

          Intended to be a factual statement.

          by ipsos on Tue Jul 10, 2012 at 07:34:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This is a good list Steve (0+ / 0-)

    I almost wish you were going back 25 years so you could have included Wellstone and Harris Wofford's win against Richard Thornburgh, but for the time frame you chose, this was spot on.

    In my lifetime (and I was really young when this happened so I have had to read about it rather than experience it) probably the biggest upset in terms of changing history had to have been Al D'Amato's win in 1980 over Elizabeth Holtzman. Holtzman was a rising star in the Dem party and had she won, would have been the first female Democratic Senator elected in her own right. There's a very good chance she would have been chosen for VP by Mondale over Ferraro had she won and an even better chance she would have run a serious campaign for president in 1988 (she was very ambitious, and would have certainly won reelection in 1986, a very Democratic year). D'Amato was way too conservative for New York in 1980, and Holtzman should have won in a walk. But thanks to a third party candidacy by Jacob Javits, she barely lost, and ended up consigned to the dustbin of history (although she arguably cost Ferraro a chance to be a Dem senator in 1992 by running a very negative campaign against her in the primary)

  •  Dahlkemper def. English in PA-3, 2008 (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think anyone (myself included) really thought that a first-time candidate and small business owner from Erie would be able to unseat an entrenched seven-term congressman who had a (rather undeserved) reputation as a consensus-builder and "moderate."  Yet Kathy Dahlkemper was able to pull it off, largely by absolutely trouncing English on his home turf and by running up a decent margin of victory in purple-leaning Mercer County.

    Of course, in the long run it might have been better to retain Phil English, as when the district swung back hard to its Republican roots in 2010 it replaced Dahlkemper with Teabagger Mike Kelly, who is light years to the right of both Dahlkemper and English (and IMHO, to the district itself).

  •  MI-Gov, 2006 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Perhaps not the biggest upset, but worth a mention is Granholm's wide margin of victory over DeVos in 06.

    Granholm's approval rating was underwater and she was outspent by the DeVos campaign $41 million to $13 million. The 11/5 poll from SurveyUSA had Granholm ahead 51-45, which matched most of the polling from late Oct. to election day*. Granholm went on to win by 14 points, 56-42.

    *I say most, because there was the Mason-Dixon poll on 11/6 that showed Granholm ahead by 14 (52-38), as well as a Free Press poll from 11/5 that showed Granhom winning by 13 (54-41). While these were close the actual results; I recall these polls being written off as outliers and most pundits predicting a 5-6 point win for Granholm.

    I have fond memory of that race, even though I have no connection to Michigan what-so-ever. I remember it as a big victory over the dark forces of corporatism that DeVos represented. Big money and austerity got beat in Michigan that night, and beat badly. Proud time to be a Democrat.

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