[EM] My (& your) standards & Condorcet

Mike Ossipoff dfb at bbs.cruzio.com
Sun Mar 24 11:57:01 PST 1996

The way to choose a single-winner method is on the basis of what standards
you want, what you want from a single-winner method.

Since you're into electoral reform, I needn't tell you what the lesser-of-
2-evils problem is, and you don't need me to tell you that the lesser-of-2-
evils problem completely dominates the voting of progressives, who virtually
always will tell you that they vote for a lesser-evil, abandoning their
favorite, because that's the necessary pragmatic voting strategy. 
That's what we want to get rid of, that need for defensive strategic
voting in order to make a lesser-evil beat someone worse. Condorcet's
method is the one that gets rid of that problem. Not Copeland, but

I talk about a situation with Dole, Clinton & Nader. I'll avoid repeating
it too much now, since you've already heard it.

But defensive strategy means having to vote Clinton equal to or
over Nader because that's the only way to ensure that Clinton will
keep Dole from winning. Plurality makes people do that. So will
Copeland, under commonly expected conditions.

So how does Condorcet avoid that problem? That's easy & quick to

Condorcet counts "votes-against". That means that the fact that
you've voted Clinton over Dole counts as your vote against Dole,
even though you didn't rank Clinton in 1st place.

That's it. That's the whole story.


In particulat, that means that a candidate with a majority againsts
him can't win unless every candidate has a majority against them.

That can't be said of Copeland. Copeland will often pick someone who
has a majority against him even if he's the only candidate with a
majority against him. So much for majority rule in Copeland.


And what does it take for everyone to have a majority against them,
in Condorcet? It requires 1 of 2 things:

1. The risky & devious offensive strategy of "order-reversal cheating"
has been attempted on a scale sufficient to change the election
result, and the simple countermeasure to it hasn't been used.
Bruce & I have agreed that that devious offensive strategy won't
be used on that scale.

2. There's a "natural circular tie", in which the electorate's
collective preferences are circular, and these circular collective
preferences are so strong, and so free of abstention, every
candidate has a majority preferring somoene else to him. This is
a chaotic situation, an extremely indecisive situation in which
there's no good case to be made for picking any particular candidate,
where there's no really right solution.

So then, in situations that are at all plausible, and where it matters,
Condorcet guarantees that a candidate with a majority agsinst him
can't win. That can't be said of any other method. In particular,
it certainly can't be said of Copeland.


What that means to the voter is that if you're part of that majority
(Clinton voters + Nader voters) who rank Clinton over Dole, even though
they don't all rank Clinton in 1st place, you, & the rest of that
Clinton + Nader majority are making it impossible for Dole to win.
That's our goal in single-winner reform.


To be continued in an immediately subsequent message


Mike Ossipoff


More information about the Election-Methods mailing list