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The Horse Race in American Politics

A contest of speed and stamina between horse racers, ridden by jockeys or pulled by sulkies. The sport dates back to prehistory, and early records suggest organized racing occurred in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as in Babylon, Syria, and Arabia. It is also an important part of myth and legend, such as the chariot race between the horses of Odin and Hrungnir in Norse mythology.

The term horse race was first used in the 19th century to describe political contests, and it has since morphed into an idiom that describes any close competition. As elections get closer, the phrase seems to be popping up with more frequency in popular culture, perhaps reflecting how closely a presidential election is being watched and predicted. While many pundits and journalists will continue to use the term horse race, others are taking a different approach to describe the current election.

Rather than focusing on the race between Trump and Clinton, some are beginning to frame the campaign as a horse race between Cruz and Rubio. In this type of horse race, the winner is not determined by a vote tally, but rather by who can win over the most voters. This approach is especially effective in swing states, where a candidate’s ability to pull votes from a competitor can make or break their chances of victory.

This horse race frame of mind is also evident in the way news coverage of the presidential campaign is reported. For example, it is common for news outlets to refer to early polls as a horse race, despite the fact that they are often inaccurate and misleading. Moreover, these polls are largely driven by money from donors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the average voter.

Another common strategy in horse racing is to manipulate a race by injecting drugs into the horses, which can alter their performance and lead to a false finish. The practice is also known as juicing, and it is one of the most common forms of cheating in horse races. While some race officials attempt to stop juicing by instituting new rules and penalties, it continues to occur with alarming regularity.

Although the earliest horse races were simple, they soon developed into complex spectacles. In modern times, horse racing has evolved from a pastime for the leisure class into a multibillion-dollar industry. While the sport has adapted to changes in technology and society, its essential features have remained the same. Regardless of how a race is conducted, the horse that finishes first is the winner.