[EM] The Electoral College (was Interesting use of Borda count)

Forest Simmons fsimmons at pcc.edu
Mon Jan 28 13:37:57 PST 2002

Both Blake and Anthony have pointed out actualities that the Banzhaf index
doesn't detect: Blake because of correlations among the blocks, and
Anthony because of distinctive trends within individual blocks. 

The Banzhaf power index averages these effects out, so it is to be taken
with a grain of salt in any particular situation. 


On Sun, 27 Jan 2002, Blake Cretney wrote:

>   Forest Simmons wrote:
> >On Thu, 24 Jan 2002, Anthony Simmons wrote:
> >
> ><snip>
> >
> >>[Forest wrote in part]
> >>
> >>>>See the discussion of this result at the URL
> >>>>
> >>>>http://www.cs.unc.edu/~livingst/Banzhaf/#results
> >>>>
> >>Hmmm, I'm a bit short on time presently, so I haven't worked
> >>this out, but it would seem that by the same criteria, when
> >>states are considered individual voters in the EC, that
> >>smaller states have more power, per voter, than larger
> >>states.  This at the same time that individuals in the small
> >>states have less power than their counterparts in large
> >>states.
> >>
> >>Of course, while this might be peculiar, there's nothing
> >>about it that requires that the power of a state be the sum
> >>of the power of the individual voters.
> >>
> >
> >As Markus once pointed out, there are cases where block voting gives
> >disproportionate power to small blocks, and other cases where block voting
> >gives disproportionate power to large blocks. It's not always obvious in
> >any particular case whether the members of small or the members of large
> >blocks are the ones with the relative advantage. That's why the
> >simulations at the above URL are interesting and important. 
> >
> >It turns out (in the current EC case) that even though the small states
> >have super proportional representation in the EC, that factor is not
> >enough to make up for the disproportionate power of the larger blocks
> >relative to the smaller blocks.
> >
> Let me suggest another wrinkle.  Voters are not randomly distributed. 
>  Some states tend to vote Republican, others Democratic.  If you have 
> several small but consistently Republican states, they can act like a 
> kind of block.
> So, a Republican in a small state may reason that although according to 
> the model we've been using, he has diminished voting power, in fact, 
> because he knows that there are lots of small Republican states, the 
> system increases the odds of a result he wants.  Personally, I don't 
> care if I have power, as long as I get my own way.
> So, my point is that it may be quite rational for the majority in a 
> smaller state to favour the current system.  I'm not saying that I know 
> this to be the case, just that it still seems possible to me, despite 
> the arguments I've heard.
> ---
> Blake Cretney

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list