Back of the pack.
Why is a candidate for office who isn't expected to win called a dark horse candidate?
Sometimes in a race, a horse whose name and ability are not widely known puts on a surprisingly good show and defeats more famous rivals. Such a horse is called a dark horse, not because of its color, but because of its obscurity.
Since the 19 th century, the phrase dark horse has been extended from racehorses to obscure competitors who do unexpectedly well in contests of other kinds. Now it is perhaps most often applied, as you mention, to candidates for elected office whose chances appear poor.
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|Title Annotation:||WORDNOOK BY THE EDITORS OF MERRIAM-WEBSTER; dark horse|
|Article Type:||Brief article|
|Date:||Aug 1, 2015|
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