Definition of poll noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//pəʊl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//poʊl//
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  1. 1(also opinion poll) [countable] the process of questioning people who are representative of a larger group in order to get information about the general opinion synonym survey to carry out/conduct a poll A recent poll suggests some surprising changes in public opinion. A nationwide poll revealed different food preferences in the North and the South.
  2. 2[countable] (also the polls [plural]) the process of voting at an election; the process of counting the votes The final result of the poll will be known tomorrow. Their defeat at the polls came as a big shock. Thursday is traditionally the day when Britain goes to the polls (= when elections are held). Polls close (= voting ends) at 9 p.m. Synonymselectionvote poll referendum ballotThese are all words for an event in which people choose a representative or decide something by voting.election an occasion on which people officially choose a political representative or government by voting:Who did you vote for in the last election?vote an occasion on which a group of people vote for somebody/​something:They took a vote on who should go first.poll (journalism) the process of voting in an election:They suffered a defeat at the polls.referendum an occasion on which all the adults in a country can vote on a particular issueballot the system of voting by marking an election paper, especially in secret; an occasion on which a vote is held:The leader will be chosen by secret ballot. Ballot is usually used about a vote within an organization rather than an occasion on which the public vote.Patterns a national/​local election/​vote/​poll/​referendum/​ballot to have/​hold/​conduct a(n) election/​vote/​poll/​referendum/​ballot CultureelectionsIn Britain, a general election takes place at least every five years, when the electorate (= all the people in the country who can vote) vote for the Members of Parliament or MPs in the House of Commons. Each MP represents a constituency, which is an area of the country with a roughly equal number of people (about 90 000 people) and is expected to be interested in the affairs of the constituency and to represent the interests of local people. If an MP dies or resigns, a by-election is held in the constituency he or she represented. Before an election one person is chosen by each of the main political parties to be their candidate. Independent candidates, who do not belong to a political party, can also stand for election. Each candidate has to leave a deposit with the returning officer, the person responsible for managing the election, which is returned to them if they win more than 5% of the votes, otherwise they lose their deposit. Before an election, candidates campaign for support in their constituency and local party workers spend their time canvassing, going from house to house to ask people about how they intend to vote. At the national level the parties spend a lot of money on advertising and media coverage. They cannot buy television time, but each party is allowed a number of strictly timed party political broadcasts.Anyone over the age of 18 has the right to vote at elections, provided they are on the electoral register (= list of adults in a constituency). Voting is not compulsory. The turnout (= number of people who vote) in recent general elections has been about 60%, although in the past 75% was more usual. On the day of the election, called polling day, voters go to a polling station, often in a local school or church hall, and are given a ballot paper. The ballot paper lists all the candidates for that constituency and the parties they represent. The voter goes into a polling booth, where nobody can see what he or she is writing, and puts a cross next to the name of one candidate only. After the polls close, the ballot papers are taken to a central place to be counted. Counting usually takes place on the same day as the election, continuing late into the night if necessary. If the number of votes for two candidates is very close, they can demand a recount. Only the candidate who gets the most votes in each constituency is elected. This system is called first-past-the-post. The winning party, which forms the next government, is the one that wins most seats in Parliament (= has the most MPs).In the US, elections are held regularly for President, for both houses of Congress and for state and local government offices. Candidates usually run for office with the support of one of the two main political parties, the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, although anyone wanting to run as an independent can organize a petition and ask people to sign it. Some people also run as write-in candidates: they ask voters to add their name to the ballot when they vote. A large amount of money is spent on election campaigning, where candidates try to achieve name recognition (= making their names widely known) by advertising on television, in newspapers and on posters. They take part in debates and hold rallies where they give speeches and go round'pressing the flesh', shaking hands with as many voters as possible.Only a person over 35 who was born in the US can run for President. Presidential elections are held every four years and early in election year, the political parties choose their candidates through a series of primary elections held in each state. As these races take place it gradually becomes clear which candidates are the strongest and in the summer each party holds a convention to make the final choice of candidates for President and Vice-President. In November, the people go to vote and although the President is said to be directly elected, the official vote is made by an electoral college. Each state has a certain number of electors in the college based on the state's population. All the electors from a state must vote for the candidate who got the most votes in the state, and the candidate with at least 270 votes out of 538 becomes President. After the election, the new President goes to Washington for the inauguration on 20 January, and takes the oath of office.Americans over the age of 18 have the right to vote, but only about half of them take part in presidential elections and voter turnout for other elections is even lower. On election day, voters go to polling stations where they first have to sign their name in a book that lists all the voters in the precinct (= area) and then cast a vote. Some states use computerized voting systems and in others voters pull down a metal lever beside the name of the person they want to vote for which operates a mechanical counter. It is possible to select all the candidates from one party, which is called voting a straight ticket, but many voters choose candidates from both parties and vote a split ticket. Journalists and pollsters are allowed to ask people how they voted and these exit polls help to predict election results. However, the results of exit polls may not be announced until polling stations everywhere have closed, in case they influence the result. See related entries: Elections
  3. 3[singular] the number of votes given in an election synonym ballot Labour is ahead in the poll. They gained 20% of the poll.
  4. see also deed poll, exit poll, straw poll
    Word OriginMiddle English (in the sense ‘head’): perhaps of Low German origin. The original sense was ‘head’, and hence ‘an individual person among a number’, which led to the sense ‘number of people ascertained by counting of heads’ and then ‘counting of heads or of votes’ (17th cent.). Wordfindercandidate, constituency, contest, democracy, election, majority, manifesto, poll, referendum, swing voteExtra examples Clearer policies might have widened our lead in the polls. Counting will begin as soon as the polls close. Exit polls suggest a big Labour majority, but the true picture will only be known after the count. Exit polls suggest a big majority for the party. Have you seen the latest poll? I don’t read opinion polls. I took a straw poll among my colleagues to find out how many can use chopsticks. In five days, the nation goes to the polls to elect the next president. Missouri requires the parties to register poll watchers before election day. Only 22% of poll respondents say they have a positive opinion of him. She was defeated at the polls. The country goes to the polls on May 7th to elect local councillors. The latest tracking poll shows the Democrats leading by four percentage points. The party is leading in the polls. The poll asked voters what was the most important moral issue that affected their vote. The president’s poll numbers are sinking fast in the West. With a week to go until polling day, the Conservatives are still behind in the polls. poll data on consumer attitudes success in the polls the results generated by the poll question A nationwide poll revealed differences in food preferences between the North and South. Nelson has a clear lead in the opinion polls. The polls close at 10 pm. They suffered a resounding defeat at the polls. Thursday is traditionally the day when Britain goes to the polls.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: poll