a bare majority

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LQZ

Senior Member
Mandarin
Federal drug regulators have tried for decades to cut down on acetaminophen’s toll, but little changed until June 2009, when the F.D.A.’s panel of experts voted by a bare majority to call for a ban on drugs that combine acetaminophen with narcotics. New York Times (subscription, free)

Dear all,

Could you please tell me what "a bare majority" means here? Thanks.


LQZ
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hello, LQZ. If we had a group of ten people who were voting on something and six of them voted for it, then a "bare majority" would have voted for it. That is, there were barely enough votes to achieve a majority.

    You might also come across the term "sweeping" or "overwhelming" majority. Referring to our group, we could say that a vote of nine would be a "sweeping majority".
     

    LQZ

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Hello, LQZ. If we had a group of ten people who were voting on something and six of them voted for it, then a "bare majority" would have voted for it. That is, there were barely enough votes to achieve a majority.

    You might also come across the term "sweeping" or "overwhelming" majority. Referring to our group, we could say that a vote of nine would be a "sweeping majority".
    Thanks, owlman. You make it clearer to me. :)
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    You make it clearer to me.
    (I take that as a hint you're not completely clear on the matter.) ~ Note that the adjective 'bare' is not used in the sense of 'naked' or 'exposed', but of 'just sufficient'. It is related to the adverb 'barely', as in The ban barely gained majority support.
     
    Last edited:

    Waylink

    Senior Member
    English (British)
    A "bare majority" could be a "majority of one" but could be higher than one in some contexts.

    The Democrat candidate beat the Republican with a bare majority of votes - 50.3% to 49.7%.

    The actual number of votes is less important than the closeness of the vote.

    In the original context given, if the committe or panel had, say, eleven members then a "bare majority" would imply 6 to 5, i.e. a majority of one.

    Incidentally, depending on the voting system being used in any particular context, one might obtain a majority or a bare majority with fewer than half the votes.

    Candidate A, 22 000 votes.
    Candidate B, 21 900 votes.
    Candidate C, 18 000 votes.
    Abstentions and "spoilt papers", 8 000.

    Although candidate A has the most votes, and a bare majority over candidate B, candidate A has got less than half the total votes cast.

    Depending on the electoral rules in place, candiate A might still be delared the winner and described as having "a bare majority" because the result is very close and if a few people switched allegiance the overall result could have been different.
     

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I have heard of something like-
    "A majority of one is enough".

    Is it the same as-
    "A bare majority is enough" ?
    A majority of one would certainly be a bare majority; bare does not indicate a specific figure though, it means only just sufficient to achieve a majority, so they don't mean exactly the same.

    However, your sentence certainly makes sense and you will see it, or similar expressions, used:
    Then, they would only need a bare majority [a bare majority is enough] for passage in both Houses of Congress, which just happen to be controlled by Democrats.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    We need to know what this is a bare majority of. If a measure to be passed needs 66% of the electorate to vote for it, and only 50% of the electorate vote, then clearly it cannot be passed.

    A bare majority of votes cast is a recipe for getting a decision. In a two-horse race, it will always produce a decision, unless there is a tie.
     
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