any game of historical make-believe

How common is it for a Presidential election to go to the "wrong" candidate because of a spoiler? The answer is complicated by the Electoral College as well as by the imponderables common to any game of historical make-believe.
Does the 'any game of historical make-believe' means 'any presidential election in American history'? many thanks.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    No. It means the game historians can play by imagining what would have happened if the losing candidate would have won. Of course, anybody can play the game. What would have happened if Julius Caesar had not been murdered? What would have happened if Joseph Stalin had died during childhood?
     

    johnydynamic

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The cynicism I detect in the language would lead me to believe that the author is making a vague reference to the 2000 US Presidential election, wherein many believe Al Gore to have won although George W Bush was eventually declared the winner. Emotions run strong on both sides.
     

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The cynicism I detect in the language would lead me to believe that the author is making a vague reference to the 2000 US Presidential election, wherein many believe Al Gore to have won although George W Bush was eventually declared the winner. Emotions run strong on both sides.
    The word "spoiler" has a specific meaning in this context; it does not refer to the confusion surrounding the vote count in Florida. See the WR dictionary on spoiler, definition #5:
    a candidate with no chance of winning but who may draw enough votes to prevent one of the leading candidates from winning
    The sentence following the one we are discussing is:
    Pundits have routinely assumed that a majority of Ralph Nader voters "would have" voted for Al Gore.
    The author goes on to argue against this view.

    Source: Gaming the vote: why elections aren't fair (and what we can do ... William Poundstone (2008).
     
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