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Won by a landslide

Posted by ESC on June 28, 2008 at 19:11

In Reply to: Won by a landslide posted by RRC on June 26, 2008 at 23:49:

: : I am wondering if you know where the phrase "won by a landslide" originated.

: : When Teton County, Wyoming, where I live, became a county in the early 1920s the communities of Kelly and Jackson competed to be named county seat. Jackson won by a narrow margin and the county was officially formed in 1923. Then in 1925 a landslide dammed the Gros Ventre River in the mountains above Kelly creating Slide Lake. Finally, in 1927 that natural dam broke and the resulting flood destroyed Kelly, which has never been rebuilt to what it once was. Anyway, a persistent rumor in this area is that the phrase was born from that series of events. I was hoping you could shed some light on the subject.

: says the political sense is from 1888, but checking Google News Archive it seems older. Here's an example from 1884 NY Times (it's at the very end)

William Safire says the word in "its natural-disaster sense" made its appearance around 1838. And a few years later, newspaper headline writers began using it in the political sense meaning "a resounding victory; one in which the opposition is 'buried'..." "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993). Page 397.