Revealing the Majority Winner

Bart Ingles bartman at
Wed Nov 11 02:47:07 PST 1998

> > Blake Cretney wrote:
> > > [...]
> > > However, this doesn't matter.  The method I advocate passes
> > > MIIAC (Modified Independence from Irrelevant Alternative Criterion).
> > > What this states is that any expressed preference between two
> > > candidates who are not in the Smith set has no effect.
> -snip-

Steve Eppley wrote:

> I agree with Blake.  If the voting method satisfies the Smith
> criterion (also known as the "top cycle" criterion, and which
> I assume is also what Blake means by MIIAC) then the effect of
> imprecisely ordering the little-known non-Smith losers is
> intangible.

I agree with your statement, but it was the possibility of lesser
candidates who *are* in the Smith set that I was concerned about.

> [...]
> For example, once Perot's chance of winning was perceived as
> significant before the 1992 election, he stopped getting a
> free ride in the media.  The media scrutiny became intense
> enough to reveal his flaws to the voters, and his "soft
> support" fell.

Actually, I think his support fell after he dropped out of the race
because "the CIA was threatening to disrupt his daughter's wedding."  He
then re-entered the race with about half the support he had before
dropping out.  Maybe with 30% he was in danger of actually winning, but
15% was enough to act as spoiler.

> [...]
> Bart wrote:
> > The more equal these factions, the less overall support
> > required to be the Condorcet winner.
> I think the term "support" here is being (mis)used
> inconsistently with Bart's point about poorly-known
> candidates.  Nearly everyone misuses the term--it's often
> taken to suggest something absolute, but the phenomenon to
> which the term really refers is a relative pairwise
> preference.

The fact that the ranking method is relative doesn't mean that there is
no absolute level of desireability or support associated with each
candidate, only that this level is not being measured directly.  As I
mentioned in my reply to Blake, when the actual level of support is
unknown, I tend to assume a lower value rather than the 'more-or-less
equidistant between top and bottom' value that people seem to infer from
the rankings.

In other words, the middle candidate could be only marginally higher
than the bottom candidate, in which case it seems safer to give more
weight to the top rank.


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