The None of the Above Chorus:

Forest Simmons fsimmons at
Wed Apr 25 15:34:41 PDT 2001

A more recent example: even a dud like Gore would have received more than
50% approval in the last election. Do we want to lower our standards below
that level? 

Bart, I know that the fallacy in my reasoning is that I am taking the word
"approval" literally instead of strategically.  I know that there might be
strategic advantages for approving fewer than half of the candidates in a
large pool, so that the average candidate would receive less than 50%

But I think that argument is balanced by the one I gave before, i.e. the
more students, the greater the potential for at least one passing.

There is a tension between these two arguments, so let's think about the
extreme cases:

We already considered the one extreme of a two way race, and found that a
50% cutoff was reasonable there.

At the other extreme, suppose we have 100 candidates for a single
position.  Shouldn't at least one of them be outstanding enough to get
more than 50% approval?  If not, I would say, "What a dismal bunch of
clown clones!"

It's like measuring goodness of fit with least squares methods. The
more degrees of freedom, the better the fit has to be in order to measure
up. If the error doesn't have a decrease commensurate with the increase in
degrees of freedom, then the additional explanatory variables are
considered insignificant and discarded.

Increasing the number of candidates is like increasing the number of
degrees of freedom. If an increase in candidates doesn't bring a
commensurate increase in voter approval, then the additional candidates
should be discarded, in my opinion.

But maybe I'm way off base here. I've been assuming that you thought 50%
was too high. Maybe you meant it was too low.


On Wed, 25 Apr 2001 DEMOREP1 at wrote:

> Mr. Simmons wrote- 
> Here's why the 50% figure seems natural to me.  Suppose that there are
> only two candidates. If neither one of them gets 50% approval, that means
> that neither one could get 50% of the vote in a two way contest. Sounds
> like a pretty lousy choice to me.
> ----
> D-  I bring up (again) one of my standard divided majority examples--
> Sincere first choice votes
> 26 A
> 25 B
> 49 Z
> 100
> A and B have some sort of major connection.
> Who makes second choice votes if there is no majority requirement ???

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