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Wag the Blog: The Biggest Upset Ever?

Upsets have always captivated the imagination of the American public.

To wit:

* The U.S. ice hockey team defeats Russia and captures the gold medal in the 1980 Olympics.

* "Shakespeare in Love" bests "Saving Private Ryan" for Best Picture in 1998.

* Villanova beats Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA men's basketball finals.

* Rocky over Ivan Drago in "Rocky IV".

* Catholic University ousts Salisbury University in field hockey in 2006, breaking the Sea Gulls six-year long home winning streak.

So, when The Fix came across a recent Associated Press story (by the esteemed Nedra Pickler) that described Sen. Barack Obama's (Ill.) all but certain primary victory as "one of the biggest upsets in presidential politics," it got us to thinking.

Is Obama's seeming triumph over Clinton "one of the biggest upsets" in modern political campaigns or is it the biggest?

The facts are thus: Clinton came into the nomination fight heavily favored to be the nominee. Not only did she have the backing of the most potential political machine in the country -- due in large part to her husband's eight years in the White House -- but she had also built a vaunted fundraising operation of her own and surrounded herself with some of the best and brightest aides in Democratic politics.

Obama, on the other hand, had served for two years in the U.S. Senate after doing a stint in the Illinois state Senate. He has toured the country for Democratic candidates during the 2006 election cycle and had begun to build a national organization through his Hopefund political action committee. (In fact, Obama often referred to himself as a "skinny kid with a funny name."

There seems little dispute that Obama over Clinton deserves a place in the conversation of great political upsets. But is it the greatest?

The other main contenders:

* 1948 presidential race: President Harry Truman is left for dead by almost everyone but roars back to beat Thomas Dewey and claims a full term. This contest is widely cited as the greatest upset in modern American politics.

* 1976 Democratic primary: A little known former Georgia governor named Jimmy Carter enters the presidential race to almost no fanfare -- eclipsed by larger personalities like Rep. Mo Udall (Ariz.), Sen. Scoop Jackson (Wash.) and Sargent Shriver. Not only does Carter win the nomination but he ousts sitting president Gerald Ford.

* 1992 Democratic primary: Counted out after a series of scandals besieged his campaign, former Arkansas governor Bill Clinton overperforms expectations in the New Hampshire primary and declares himself the "comeback kid." The rest, as they say, is history.

For today's Wag the Blog question, we want to hear from you. Is Obama's near-certain defeat of Clinton the biggest upset in presidential primary history? If not, what race is?

The best comments will be plucked out and excerpted in their own post later this week.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 2, 2008; 1:55 PM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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