The expression originated from horse racing, where a wire was hung above and across the finish line to determine which horse won. If a horse race is very close, you can say it was "down to the wire". Another popular headline to describe the close election was "razor-thin". This expression means very thin. Smoked salmon is often sliced very thin, making the slices "razor-thin". The expression comes from the word "razor" which is a blade for shaving. The sharp part of a razor is very thin. But when used to describe an election, "razor-thin" means by a very small or thin margin. If a candidate wins an election by just 10 out of 1,000 votes, you can say the candidate won by a "razor-thin" margin.
Another word the media used in its coverage of the election was the word "flip". This word has several meanings. The most common meaning is turning something over one or more times. If you are grilling a hamburger, you have to flip it, or turn it over several times, to make sure both sides are cooked. But when used to describe an election, the word "flip" means voters changing from supporting one political party to another. Biden "flipped" several states in the election. This means he won in some states that Trump had won in 2016. Trump flipped many traditionally Democratic states in the 2016 election.
在我的上一個專欄中，我寫到一些傳媒的頭條是如何形容美國大選中，總統特朗普與民主黨挑戰者拜登鬥得難分難解的選情。一個熱門的標題是“on a knife edge”。若某事是“on a knife edge”，意即它在緊張關頭，令人非常焦急又或坐立不安，因結果難料。現在已清楚了，是拜登勝出，發表了勝利演說。然而，特朗普威脅要用法律手段挑戰選舉結果。在拜登勝選之前，一些媒體用了習語“down to the wire”去形容激烈的戰況。這個習語是用來描述一個情況，直到最後一刻，結果才會揭盅。
這個習語來源於賽馬，在賽馬跑道的終點會拉一條終點線，去決定哪隻馬匹首先衝過終點線而勝出。若兩隻馬是叮噹馬頭，你便可以說賽事真是“down to the wire”，不到衝線一刻也不會知道哪隻馬跑出。另一個形容選情激烈的熱門標題是“razor-thin”，這個習語解作極薄的。煙熏三文魚通常會切得很薄，令每一塊都是“razor-thin”。這個習語來自“razor”一字，就是剃鬚刀。剃鬚刀的刀片（razor）是非常薄的。但當用來形容選舉時，“razor-thin”就是指很小或微乎其微的差距。若一個候選人在一千票中只是以十票之微勝出，你便可以說那個候選人以 a“razor-thin”margin勝出。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧