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What does "an apparent majority" mean in the following sentence?

An apparent majority of the public no longer believes this budget is sufficient.

Which of the following interpretations apply?

  1. It seems that a majority of the public ....
  2. It is clear that a majority of the public ....
  3. any other interpretation
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It means the author is too lazy to incorporate real sources, instead describing what he finds apparent.

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The sentence makes sense only if within its context, which could come from the preceding sentence(s), it is contrasting something that is covert or hidden, versus something that is overt and apparent.

Otherwise, the sentence is unclear and should be recast and then supported with facts, statistics, and even opinions.

"Apparently, a majority of the public no longer believes this budget is sufficient, judging by the recent poll results published by the "Polls Are Us" organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C."

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I think (without context) that it means the majority depends on the phrasing of the question in the opinion poll, and would vanish if all the consequences were made plain. You can easily find an apparent majority in favour of reducing taxes; not necessarily a majority in favour of increasing the deficit or cutting services. It may mean only that the writer is not certain enough to say "A majority believe..."; either way, apparent reduces the strength of the claim.

"It is apparent that a majority of the public no longer believe...", on the other hand, would strengthen the claim. Be wary when you see this word in political analysis. (Come to think of it, be wary when you see political analysis.)

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