Approval's effect on candidates

Bart Ingles bartman at
Sat Mar 16 10:35:27 PST 2002

The "centrist weasel" may be the better choice, depending on how you
define this term.  Suppose the population is divided on some polarizing
issue -- say abortion.  Say 40% are strongly pro choice, and another 40%
strongly against.  The middle 20% support a candidate who believes
abortion should be a legal right (including gov't-paid medical care,
where applicable) up to 12 weeks, and completely prohibited thereafter. 
Finally, the fourth candidate takes no official position, and would
prefer not to involve government in the issue.

The first problem:  Which centrist is the strong leader?  Is it the one
with a definite policy to implement, or the one who refuses to take a
position?  I suppose you could take your pick -- maybe my example is

The second problem:  I don't see where Approval and Condorcet would
differ in this example.  My guess is that both would pick the more
libertarian of the two centrists, as idealistic voters of both extremes
might find the more Solomon-like approach abhorrent.  But maybe not --
if voters are pragmatic enough to want to nail down at least some rights
for women and the unborn, they might choose Solomon regardless of the
voting system.

About the only difference I could see is that perhaps Condorcet would be
more accurate at differentiating between idealists and pragmatists --
but only if the pivotal voters are somewhat ambivalent between idealism
and pragmatism.  But then, was the choice made by the more accurate
method (idealist vs. pragmatist) the one previously defined as the
strong leader, or the weasel?

Perhaps someone can find a better example.  The only real-life example I
know of where Condorcet might have differed from Approval was the 1992
U.S. Presidential election.  (Brams? et al) estimated that Ross Perot
could not have won the election, due to his high negative ratings among
voters.  But it does seem possible that he could have won under
Condorcet (assuming that voters didn't truncate).  I suppose you *could*
call him a strong leader, but to me it doesn't seem to make the
candidate any more appealing.

Bart Ingles

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