In an exclusive Indianapolis Star-Channel 13 poll, Governor Mitch Daniels seems to have a race on his hands. According to the poll, 46 percent back Mitch Daniels re-election effort, and 42 percent support Democrat Jill Long Thomspon. The governor’s campaign is quick to dismiss the results and believe their lead in the campaign is bigger than the four points reflected in the Star-13 poll.
Long Thompson’s campaign points to the right direction, wrong track numbers. When asked if Indiana was heading in the right direction, 47 percent said yes, but 44 percent said Indiana is on the wrong track.
“We believe, by and large, that Hoosiers approve of the job Governor Daniels is doing,” said Eric Holcomb of the Daniels campaign.
But I have to wonder if Mr. Holcomb understands the meaning of the phrase “by and large” which today means “generally speaking,” “mostly” or “on the whole.” However, the origin is nautical, and had a very precise meaning. It was an order to the man at the helm of a sailing ship, meaning to sail the ship slightly off the wind. A similar command was “full and by” which meant to “sail as close to the wind as it can go.”
Thus, when a person doesn’t want to “sail” directly into a statement, “by and large” is a hedge, a phrase of circumspection, a way of saying that the statement is an imprecise generality. Holcomb is actually saying that they aren’t quite sure how many Hoosiers approve of the Guv’s policies and actions. Nice choice of words – by and large. Perhaps a better assessment would be “we just don’t know.”