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  1. #1
    michael147 is offline Member
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    What does "move the needle" means?

    e.g. How much does this really move the needle in the presidential race?

    I can't find it in my dictionary. It's from ABC News after the VP debate in the US. I'm quite sure that "this" refers to the VP debate where Joe Biden did a much better job in the debate than Obama did.

    Your answer will be appreciated.
    Last edited by michael147; 15-Oct-2012 at 11:54.

  2. #2
    Grumpy's Avatar
    Grumpy is offline Senior Member
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    Re: What does "move the needle" means?

    It's not an expression I have ever heard used in British English, but it plainly refers to what extent Joe Biden's performance in the debate has shifted the balance of advantage towards the Democrats in the presidential race. It's a metaphor relating either to the needle on a dial measuring the extent of support for each party, or to the needle on a record player, moving on from one track to the next.
    I'm not a teacher of English, but I have spoken it for (almost) all of my life....

  3. #3
    michael147 is offline Member
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    Re: What does "move the needle" means?

    Quote Originally Posted by Grumpy View Post
    It's not an expression I have ever heard used in British English, but it plainly refers to what extent Joe Biden's performance in the debate has shifted the balance of advantage towards the Democrats in the presidential race. It's a metaphor relating either to the needle on a dial measuring the extent of support for each party, or to the needle on a record player, moving on from one track to the next.
    Thanks. What you said makes sense in the context. I found no clear answers about this phrase on Google. Is it possible that this phrase is only used in American English? And I'm still trying to find a way to explain it. So let's see how the Americans explain it.

  4. #4
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Re: What does "move the needle" means?

    Here is a "popularity meter". It doesn't matter that it's a child's one. Imagine that it refers to politicians in a race for election. You can see that there is a needle marking the current position, as there is on any kind of meter.

    If Joe Biden's performance in the debate made him more popular, the needle will move in one direction. If it made him less popular, the needle will move in the other direction.

    Does that help?
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  5. #5
    michael147 is offline Member
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    Re: What does "move the needle" means?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Here is a "popularity meter". It doesn't matter that it's a child's one. Imagine that it refers to politicians in a race for election. You can see that there is a needle marking the current position, as there is on any kind of meter.

    If Joe Biden's performance in the debate made him more popular, the needle will move in one direction. If it made him less popular, the needle will move in the other direction.

    Does that help?
    Yeah, it surely works for me. Thank you so much.

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Re: What does "move the needle" means?

    Slightly off topic, but although Br English doesn't have the widely used idiom 'move the needle', the idea of a Swingometer is widely known in a British context. (In fact the Wikipedia article starts by pointing out that it refers to British elections.)

    b

  7. #7
    michael147 is offline Member
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    Re: What does "move the needle" means?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Slightly off topic, but although Br English doesn't have the widely used idiom 'move the needle', the idea of a Swingometer is widely known in a British context. (In fact the Wikipedia article starts by pointing out that it refers to British elections.)

    b
    When I watched the debate, so many phrases like this came out. It was always difficult for me to figure out what they said when they said something in analogy, though I've already had a very great understanding on what they mainly talked about during the debate.
    Last edited by michael147; 15-Oct-2012 at 14:48.

  8. #8
    Gillnetter is offline Key Member
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    Re: What does "move the needle" means?

    Quote Originally Posted by michael147 View Post
    e.g. How much does this really move the needle in the presidential race?

    I can't find it in my dictionary. It's from ABC News after the VP debate in the US. I'm quite sure that "this" refers to the VP debate where Joe Biden did a much better job in the debate than Obama did.

    Your answer will be appreciated.
    I always that the needle referred to the needle on a seismograph or a seismometer. Both of these devices measure the movement of the earth during an earthquake, with the seismometer being the newest of the two. It is said, in the US, that a person made a "ground shaking" speech, thus, the connection to the devices listed above.

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