Like most of the world I’ve been following the US elections, and several times came across a usage I had noticed a few times before, “eke out” to mean something like “narrowly scrape”, or “obtain with difficulty” as in the Washington Times yesterday, November 7:
Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) eked out a win despite the Republican nature of her suburban Twin Cities seat.
This always jars with me (south-eastern England), as “eke out” to me still only means “make go further by some stratagem, substitute or economy”, and I’m barely happy with “contrive to make (a livelihood), or to support (existence) by various makeshifts”, which the OED says has been around since at least 1839. The online Merriam-Webster only has “to make up for the deficiencies of : supplement” and “to make (a supply) last by economy” as the definitions for “eke out” and yet Google News today has a mass of uses in US papers of “eke out” to mean “obtain with difficulty”.
The first use of “eked out a win” I’ve found in Google Books is from the Cornell University magazine The Cornellian in 1951, but apart from another use in 1973 it doesn’t begin to make regular appearences in the record until the mid-1990s or so. I still don’t think this is a usage found in mainstream BrE – there are only a couple of British sources using “eke out” at all in the first four pages of Google News hits for “eke out”, though both are the “obtain with difficulty” sense. But it appears to be common in American usage. So - error, or now US mainstream and time to be recognised by the big dictionaries?