blood in the water

blood in the water
In a competitive situation, the exhibition of apparent weakness or vulnerability by one party, especially when this leads to a feeling of vulnerability or greater pressure to perform on the part of the weak party, and/or enhanced expectation of victory by the other(s).

The first reason Powell gave to explain Carters press miseries was the idea of "blood in the water"—that more bad press goes to those who have just had bad press. Almost nobody in main-stream politics is as likely as a fourth-year incumbent to have just come off a stint of bad press.

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