Ten ye­ars ago, I was sit­ting in a lec­tu­re about cul­tu­ral dif­fe­ren­ces and si­mi­la­ri­ties bet­ween Fin­ns and Ame­ri­cans. I thought I’d he­ard it all as a Fin­nish Ame­ri­can ha­ving li­ved in both count­ries, but no. I quick­ly dis­co­ve­red that my two rep­re­sen­ta­ti­ve na­ti­ons are equ­al­ly fas­ci­na­ted by un­der­dogs and longs­hots.

There is a deep ap­p­re­ci­a­ti­on on both si­des of the At­lan­tic for pe­op­le, te­ams and com­pa­nies that over­co­me ext­re­me ad­ver­si­ty to pull off so­met­hing huge. Fin­nish and Ame­ri­can cul­tu­res abound with sto­ries about see­ming­ly im­pos­sib­le vic­to­ries in the sports and bu­si­ness worlds, which desc­ri­bes a whole ar­tic­le in it­self. But this isn’t the sports and bu­si­ness is­sue of SAM Ma­ga­zi­ne; This is­sue is all about U.S. pre­si­den­ti­al elec­ti­ons.

Un­der­dogs, the surp­ri­se can­di­da­tes in elec­ti­ons, are known as po­li­ti­cal longs­hots, and there are more than a few when it co­mes to U.S. elec­ti­ons his­to­ri­cal­ly. The big­gest po­li­ti­cal longs­hot in re­cent me­mo­ry is li­ke­ly the 2016 elec­ti­on of Pre­si­dent Trump.

Mil­li­ons of pe­op­le around the world re­lied on pol­ls and new out­lets for a sen­se of which di­rec­ti­on Ame­ri­ca was he­a­ded four ye­ars ago. Many mainst­re­am me­dia out­lets poin­ted to Hil­la­ry Clin­ton’s vic­to­ry as elec­ti­on day ap­p­ro­ac­hed. For ins­tan­ce, The New York Ti­mes gave Trump a 15 per­cent pro­ba­bi­li­ty of win­ning, while CNN of­fe­red on­ly 9%. Af­ter re­sults were an­noun­ced, mem­bers of the pub­lic were re­a­so­nab­le to qu­es­ti­on whet­her po­li­ti­cal pol­ling in the Uni­ted Sta­tes could still be trus­ted. Re­se­arch or­ga­ni­za­ti­ons and think tanks like Pew Re­se­arch Cen­ter have no­ted va­lu­ab­le les­sons le­ar­ned from 2016, and they’ve sin­ce ad­jus­ted their pol­ling va­ri­ab­les and mar­gins of er­ror.

Yet po­li­tics can be wild­ly unp­re­dic­tab­le, even with more ac­cu­ra­te pol­ling.

2018 mid­term elec­ti­ons, ge­ne­ral elec­ti­ons that are held near the mid­point of a pre­si­dent’s term, gave us the po­li­ti­cal longs­hot known as Ale­xand­ra Oca­sio-Cor­tez (AOC) from New York’s 14th Cong­res­si­o­nal Dist­rict. Now the star of vi­ral vi­de­os that pro­mo­te her po­li­ti­cal agen­da ac­ross the globe, AOC was on­ce con­si­de­red a longs­hot to ve­te­ran pun­dits with a track re­cord of cor­rect pre­dic­ti­ons. She ran a main­ly on­li­ne cam­paign with on­ly spar­se co­ve­ra­ge by tra­di­ti­o­nal me­dia, and her prog­res­si­ve ap­p­ro­ach hel­ped se­cu­re a lands­li­de vic­to­ry. AOC be­ca­me the yo­un­gest wo­man to ever ser­ve in Cong­ress at 29 ye­ars old.

These examp­les may make it ea­sy to as­su­me that po­li­ti­cal longs­hots are a re­cent phe­no­me­non in U.S. po­li­tics, per­haps a sign of the tech­no­lo­gi­cal and unp­re­dic­tab­le ti­mes we live in. Ho­we­ver, as soon as I said po­li­ti­cal longs­hot, I’m sure that you his­to­ry buf­fs im­me­di­a­te­ly thought of U.S. Pre­si­dent Tru­man.

In 1948, Har­ry Tru­man ran for pre­si­dent as the le­a­der of a strug­g­ling De­moc­ra­tic par­ty, af­ter ha­ving lost both cham­bers of Cong­ress to the Re­pub­li­can par­ty in the 1946 mid­terms. The me­dia, pol­ls­ters, and fel­low po­li­ti­ci­ans all af­fir­med Re­pub­li­can Tho­mas De­wey as the next pre­si­dent. In fact, the Chi­ca­go Dai­ly Tri­bu­ne pre­ma­tu­re­ly re­por­ted De­wey as the win­ner in one of the most fa­mous me­dia gaf­fs of all time. Har­ry Tru­man was fo­re­ver ce­men­ted as a po­li­ti­cal longs­hot in U.S. his­to­ry.

It is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict who will win 2020 elec­ti­ons. But we know for cer­tain­ty that po­li­ti­cal longs­hots will ap­pe­ar again in the fu­tu­re, and the world will fol­low them with great in­te­rest. I know I will.

Ar­tik­ke­li on jul­kais­tu SAM Ma­ga­zi­ne 3/2020-nu­me­ros­sa syys­kuus­sa 2020.

Ale­xand­ra Pas­ter­nak-Jack­son, CEO at Amc­ham Fin­land, is wor­king to make Fin­land a more open and in­ter­na­ti­o­nal place to do bu­si­ness and to help Fin­nish com­pa­nies na­vi­ga­te the US mar­ket. She has taught on the im­por­tan­ce of net­wor­king as well as held non-pro­fit bo­ard po­si­ti­ons, both in Fin­land and the US. Ale­xand­ra holds an MBA from Haa­ga He­lia Uni­ver­si­ty of Ap­p­lied Scien­ces and a BA from the El­li­ott School of In­ter­na­ti­o­nal Af­fairs at the Ge­or­ge Was­hing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. She li­ves in Hel­sin­ki with her Te­xan hus­band and two kids.