Shouldn't Talk To Santa Clara?

Mike Ositoff ntk at
Tue Oct 20 20:25:00 PDT 1998


Bart wrote:  [I'm replying farther down--Mike]

> David Marsay wrote:
> > 
> > Dear Mike O.
> > 
> > I think you might draw the attention of the Santa Clara folk
> > to this list for views that represent a variety of opinions.
> > 
> > > Before the Leftist enters, both methods elect either the
> > > Centrist or else the Centrist loses, but his voters have the
> > > power to choose who does win.
> > >
> > > After the Leftist enters, IRO is does the same as before, but
> > > Runoff gives it to the Centrist for sure.
> > 
> > There are also examples that go the other way. You believe that the
> > 'correct' candidate will tend to make it to the Runoff. I wonder if
> > this is so in Santa Clara? 
> The few Santa Clara County seats that would be affected by this measure
> are all non-partisan, at least in theory (no political affiliation is
> listed on the ballot).  These are basically local races, with most
> candidates unknown to most voters.  Name recognition and endorsement by
> better-known officials are probably the largest factor in a successful
> campaign.
> In practice, there are frequently two prominent candidates receiving
> endorsements from other elected officials who happen to be aligned with
> the two major parties.  In that sense, centrist candidates without
> major-party backing would be eliminated immediately under Runoff.

If the top 2 are popular because of party backing or contributions,
then that's the fault of a system that lets big money rule elections.
But the assurance that a CW can't lose if he comes in 1st or 2nd
_is_ an assurance. There's no way to try to justify IRO's
failure to elect a CW who's the favorite of more people than is
any other candidate.

But again, my objection to IRO doesn't depend on convincing
anyone that it's worse than Runoff. IRO doesn't significantly
improve on current methods, because it doesn't even meet the
weaker version of the 1st Choice Criterion, whereas Approval
meets a weak version of that criterion: No one should have to
vote a less-liked alternative over their favorite.

> ***
> For federal and state-level races in the U.S. the vote distribution
> looks more like a double-peak curve than a standard bell curve, although
> this is largely an artifact of FPP elections.  The parties that are

I doubt that the fact that there are 2 big parties to vote for
means that actual voters are distributed in a double-peaked
way. Distributed normally, they'll vote for whichever frontrunner
party is closest to them.

> commonly thought of as "centrist" include the Libertarians and Reform

I don't know thta the Libertarians are commonly thought of as
"Centrist". As you yourself said, they hold extreme positions,
noncentrist postions, at both extremes of the spectrum. 
They're the only part with the courage to criticize the idiotic
drug laws that cause so many muggings, burglaries, police,
court & prison expenses, etc. The only party advocating throwing
out those laws. That counts on the rational compassionaate end
of the spectrum--don't unnecessarily cause hardship for everyone.
On the other hand, some of their environmental and social
ideas fit at the other end of the compassion spectrum.

So I don't think it can accurately be said that the Libertarians
occupy a particular position on the spectrum. As Charles pointed
out, that spectrum doesn't hold everyone. Perot, too, seemed
more progressive than Clinton in some ways, and less progressive
than Bush in other ways.

> Party (Ross Perot), and rarely win more than one or two percent of the
> popular vote (both may be considered "extreme" in some respects, but on
> the Liberal-Conservative axis they tend to fall in the middle).  There
> are also the far left (Green, Peace & Freedom) and far right (American
> Independent) parties, which also rarely collect more than one or two
> percent. 

Remember that we can't really know how many votes the Greens would
get without LO2E giveaway strategy, until we use a better method,
like VA or Approval in which voters aren't forced to outright
abandon their favorite. IRO fails in that respect. It causes
LO2E strategy dilemma as often as Plurality does.

> One exception: the last two presidential races, where Perot has been
> able to get into the high-single & low-double digits.  There is some
> concern that Perot's candidacy may have altered the outcome in the last
> two elections (some say intentionally).  This raises a concern of mine:
> that a minor candidate (particularly one posing as a centrist) can not
> only alter the outcome of a race, but reduce any incentive for the major

In FPP, there can be situations where candidates abandon the middle.

> parties to compete for the middle-ground.  I am as concerned about this
> as I am about overcoming the two-party duopoly.
> Runoff would address this last concern of mine, but would require
> partisan primary elections to remain in place.  Otherwise you could have
> a situation like:
> 25% Democrat_A
> 24% Democrat_B
> 17% Republican_A
> 17% Republican_B
> 17% Republican_C
> where the runoff would be between two Democrats.

I don't know that it's meaningful to bring parties into it.
I oppose party primaries. The Libertarians are right ahout
publicly sponsored party primaries. I showed a very typical
kind of example where Runoff elects the CW and IRO fails to.

> Note that since non-partisan races -- including the Santa Clara County
> elections -- have no primary, they would potentially have the same
> problem under Runoff, if there is a similar alignment of candidates.
> Bart Ingles
> (end of reply)
> --------------------------------------------------------
> > 
> > It was suggested earlier that the motivation for IRO was to expose
> > the rankings. Maybe this should be a criterion for our list:
> > 
> > Proposed criterion: ballots express rankings.
> > 
> > I believe that in some circumstances (e.g., UK) such rankings would
> > lead to pressure for further reform. Worthwhile, or what?
> > 
> > > ... This is an example, then, of where IRO violates the
> > > 1st Choice Criterion, which says that there should never be
> > > a need for someone to not vote his favorite in 1st place.
> > 
> > You seem to think that the 'correct' candidate always makes it to the
> > runoff. Not in the UK they wouldn't: Runoff would not in practice
> > meet this criteria: IRO often would! (But what about Santa Clara?)
> > 
> > > In these examples, Runoff does a better
> > > job of electing the CW than IRO does.
> > 
> > And in the examples that you think are typical, but not world-wide!
> > 
> > Cheers.
> > --------------------------------------------------
> > Sorry, but apparently I have to do this. :-(
> > The views expressed above are entirely those of the writer
> > and do not represent the views, policy or understanding of
> > any other person or official body.

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