20

I don't want to use the word "majority" in many contexts because it tends to imply that 50% or more of something has gone one way. However, I don't know a concise way of saying that something has occurred more than any other. Example:

Symbolic of the 'red wall' being broken in this election was seeing Blyth Valley falling to the Conservatives. Ian Levy won ______ of the vote.

Ian Levy won 42.7% of the vote in the constituency, so it seems inappropriate to say "majority". It would be useful to have a word/short phrase to signify that the Conservatives won a greater share of the vote than any other party.

19

The result you describe is a consequence not of Ian Levy's vote-count (or share of the vote) per se, but how that compares to those of the other candidates.

Ian Levy won the most votes.

Ian Levy won the greatest share of the vote.

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  • Or "Ian Levy won." – Jos Dec 16 '19 at 9:37
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    @Jos That statement is true but it misses the point. – Rosie F Dec 16 '19 at 9:46
  • Is this really an answer suitable for ELU, a site aimed at linguists? – Edwin Ashworth Dec 17 '19 at 13:10
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    I’d tend to say ‘won the largest share of the vote’, but same difference. – andrewf Dec 17 '19 at 14:58
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    (1) I was responding to your comment and made the natural assumption that you chose the words in it. (2) "Questions and answers that are too basic ELU's erode credibility and are contrary to its aims." So downvote the question then, if you think it's not suitable here. If a question has an answer which is a sentence a "reasonably articulate 10-year-old native speaker" might say, what is wrong with that? It might still be a good question, and knowing which of countless plausible sentences would be good answers to it might yet be non-trivial. – Rosie F Dec 17 '19 at 16:26
65

The technical term is plurality, meaning per the OED

The fact of having the largest share of the votes cast, when this is less than an absolute majority.

This word is used primarily in the United States. According to the Wikipedia article on the topic, relative majority is preferred in the United Kingdom.

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    Thank you. Can 'relative majority' still be used in a context other than politics? – Joe Dec 14 '19 at 19:03
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    @Joe As an American, I would not know, out of context, what was meant by “relative majority.” “Plurality” was certainly the word I thought of when I saw the question. – KRyan Dec 15 '19 at 21:16
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    Also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simple_majority – Carsten S Dec 15 '19 at 23:17
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    "Plurality" is also widely used in the UK. I'm English and find it at least as familiar as "relative majority", if not more. – FLHerne Dec 16 '19 at 0:08
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    The Wikipedia article references a work from 1965. In the UK Plurality is now the commonly used term. – Ben Dec 16 '19 at 11:16
8

You may choose to use the phrase Lion's Share

The lion's share is a phrase which refers to the major share of something.

So in the example sentence that you have shared

Symbolic of the 'red wall' being broken in this election was seeing Blyth Valley falling to the Conservatives. Ian Levy won the lion's share of the vote.

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6

If you want to be both precise and widely understood, I'd use a phrase, not a word:

Ian Levy won more votes than anyone else.

That's specifically comparing his votes to each other candidates' votes individually, not taken as a whole.  (The latter would of course need an absolute majority, and you could then say that he won more votes than everyone else.)

That phrasing can be extended to a party's results: you could say that they won more votes than any other party.

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    OP merely gives the election situation as an example. 40% of cars last 0 - 5 years, 30% 6 - 12, and 30% over 12. We wouldn't call the 0 - 5 year range a plurality; we'd call it the modal range. / And is 'Ian Levy won more votes than anyone else.' an answer suitable on a site aimed at linguists? – Edwin Ashworth Dec 17 '19 at 13:11
1

In statistics, the technical term for that is the mode:

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mode_(statistics)

It's simply stated the value that occured the most, regardless of whether or not it was an absolute majority (which I believe is the term for "more than 50%")

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  • Mode wouldn't fit here. The mode of {1,2,2,3} is 2, which wouldn't describe getting the most votes – SeanC Dec 16 '19 at 17:07
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    @SeanC I suppose it depends on how you interpret the word 'mode'. E.g. if the vote shares were {12000,5000,17000}, then none of these totals occurred more than once (i.e. the vote share was not {12000,12000,17000)}, so there is no mode in this sense. However, I think the more natural interpretation would be to say which kind of vote happened the most frequently, in which case whichever party received the most votes is the mode (e.g. it is the Conservatives if they were the ones who received 17,000). – Joe Dec 16 '19 at 18:08
  • Technically correct. The mode of {A,B,B,C} is B. With 1 vote for A, 1 vote for C, and 2 votes for B, B is the modal vote. But if you used mode in the target sentence, no-one would understand what you meant. – Ben Aveling Dec 23 '19 at 10:19
1

It would be useful to have a word/short phrase to signify that the Conservatives won a greater share of the vote than any other party.

For a single electorate, that word is win.

You don't necessarily need another word:

Symbolic of the 'red wall' being broken in this election was seeing Blyth Valley falling to the Conservatives. Ian Levy won.

Or, if you are worried that people might not know who Ian Levy is:

Symbolic of the 'red wall' being broken in this election was seeing Blyth Valley falling to the Conservative candidate Ian Levy.

Another option is be explicit:

Symbolic of the 'red wall' being broken in this election was seeing Blyth Valley falling to the Conservatives. Ian Levy won with 42.7% of the vote.

Or, assuming your audience is somewhat familiar with the workings of British Elections:

Symbolic of the 'red wall' being broken in this election was seeing Blyth Valley falling to the Conservatives. Ian Levy, on 42.7%, was first past the post.

If, on the other hand you want to make clear the distinction between the vote in one electorate, as opposed to the overall vote, you could say

Symbolic of the 'red wall' being broken in this election was Blyth Valley, where the Conservative Ian Levy won with 42.7% of the vote.

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  • In the UK, a party may poll most votes yet lose the General Election. A strong argument for the STV. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 16 '19 at 13:55
  • @EdwinAshworth That's introducing a distinction between votes in one electorate, and votes overall. I can address that, though we may be going beyond the scope of the question. – Ben Aveling Dec 16 '19 at 20:29
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    I'm pointing out that 'win' is too simplistic an answer; there's usually a direct tie between 'polling most votes' and 'winning', but that depends totally on the rules. For instance, sometimes 75% or over of the vote is required for a 'win' result. // Also, OP merely gives the election situation as an example. 40% of cars last 0 - 5 years, 30% 6 - 12, and 30% over 12. We wouldn't say the 0 - 5 year range 'wins'. – Edwin Ashworth Dec 17 '19 at 13:08
  • @EdwinAshworth you're right that 'win' is context dependent, but in this case, the context is established. If the reader understands British politics they know that win means winning more votes than anyone else - they don't need that explained. If the reader doesn't understand British politics, do you really want to spend 1/2 a page explaining first past the post? Or do you just want to say "he won", and leave it at that, because the winning is the important bit and the rest is details you don't need to communicate. – Ben Aveling Dec 22 '19 at 11:42
  • No it's not. OP gives the example as a particularisation. Title question is 'Is there a word/short phrase for “the most” of something (not necessarily the majority)? and body restatement, before the 'for example', 'I don't want to use the word "majority" in many contexts because it tends to imply that 50% or more of something has gone one way. However, I don't know a concise way of saying that something has occurred more than any other.' – Edwin Ashworth Dec 22 '19 at 13:58
0

The best part or the better part (of the vote)

Best vaguely implies a majority without stating so. It would certainly imply winning an election. Better perhaps implies not a majority but better than anyone else's part, which again implies winning an election. Both are vague as to anything other than having done better than anybody else.

As others have commented, in this sort of election, you win, or you don't. This does, however, require understanding by the reader of the electoral system being employed.

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  • Plurality cannot be equated with majority. Plurality shows the diverse nature within - big or small. When we say better part, or best part, what is the status of the other? Not better? Not best? Lion's share ... again doesn't sound apt. The word majority can be toned by 'relative majority' or so. – Ram Pillai Dec 17 '19 at 10:00
  • "Status of the other" is inferior (not best, worse, ...), and otherwise unspecified. Split between two or more contenders is likely, but unless it's elsewhere discussed, it requires a guess by the reader using knowledge of the electoral system in use. – nigel222 Dec 17 '19 at 10:06
-1

Ian Levy won most votes. We often like to express something in English using just one word. In this case it's not difficult and neatly done if we omit the preposition and the definite article. The French must use "la plupart des votes".

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