[EM] Re: Blake's margins arguments

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Sun Feb 23 21:54:39 PST 2003

I'd said:

>101: A
>50: BAC
>100: CBA
>About 60% of the voters have indicated that they'd rather elect
>B than A. And so margins elects A.
>WV counts, keeps, & honors the B>A majority. A has a majority defeat that 
>wv doesn't lose or erase. With margins, what happens to that majority 
>against A? Margins erases it.
>With wv, I should add that B wins whether or not the B voters vote
>a 2nd choice.
>If one wants a majority to count, then one doesn't want margins.

Blake replied:

Of course margins just counts different majorities.

I reply:

Of course, but  wv counts a majority that has electionwide meaning
in an election with more than 2 people. As you define majority, with 3 
candidates every pairwise defeat is a "majority". When all pairwise
defeats are "majorities", majority has little meaning or value as
a term.

Aside from the fact that a majority of all the voters is the
widely-understood meaning of "electoral majority", such a majority
matters because it's a group of people whose need for defensive strategy can 
be minimized to a degree qualitatively better than
can be said for a submajority group of people. As described by the
definitions of the majority defensive strategy criteria.

Now Blake will tell us what honoring majority is really about :-)

Blake said:

But let's review
what this whole honoring majorities argument is really about.

Normally, when we speak of honoring a majorities wishes, there is a
majority (at least of those with a preference) and they want something
done, and then you do what they want. But that's not what is going on

I reply:

It seems that Blake has discovered that we're not talking about
a 1st choice majority, in which a majority of the voters share the
same favorite. Very good, Blake. When a majority indicate the same
favorite, that favorite pairwise beats everything else, and these
circular tie solutions aren't used. So Blake, it really pretty much
goes without saying that, in examples that show the difference
between margins & wv, there's no candidate with a 1st choice majority.

But majority has meaning and importance even when no one has a
1st choice majority. In my example, a 60% majority indicated that
they prefer the election of B to the election of A. Then, to elect
A violates majority wishes in a meaningful sense.

Majorities like that exist often. The Alaska Republicans noticed that
a Democrat won even though a majority preferred the Republican to
the Democrat. The New Mexico Democrats noticed that a Republican won
even though a majority preferred the Democrat to the Republican.

Those were not 2-candidate elections, and those weren't 1st choice

It wasn't a rank-balloting election, but the 2nd preferences could
be reliably inferred from the 1st preferences. In a rank balloting
method those 2nd preferences would likely have been voted.

Those party organizations disagree with Blake about the meaning
and value of that majority. They know that their party would have won if 
expressed majority wishes had been honored. And so they've begun
advocating to replace Plurality with a voting system which they
believe won't violate that majority wish.

In fact, that's the usual form of the familiar lesser-of-2-evils
problem: A majority prefer B to A, but they're split between factions
who consider the middle candidate B or the nonmiddle candidate C their

So if Blake says that that majority doesn't matter, there are many
who'd disagree. Of course it's still valid for Blake that it doesn't
matter to Blake.

Blake continued:

The majority who prefer B to A have differing opinions on C.

I reply:

Will Blake's amazing pronouncements ever end? What he's referring to
is the familiar lesser-of-2-evils split vote problem that single-winner
reform advocates have been talking about for a long time.

Blake continued:

Many may think that C is just as bad as A. In your example, many think
that C is worse. So you aren't giving them what they want by electing

I reply:

Winning votes didn't elect C.

Maybe Blake is thinking of an entirely different kind of example.

Blake continued:

A preference for B over A doesn't really say anything by itself about
whether A or C should be elected.

I reply:

Sure it does. It says that A shouldn't be elected, at least not if
B isn't elected.

But if Blake is trying to say that a preference for B over A says
nothing by itself about whether the voter would rather elect A than C,
or would rather elect C than A--did I or anyone say otherwise? That,
Blake, is why we call it a preference between B and A.

If you prefer B to A, then you'd rather elect B than A.
If we elect A or B, you prefer that it be B. Electing A and not B
violates a voted preference of that 60% majority. Which part of that
doesn't Blake understand?

Mike Ossipoff

Tired of spam? Get advanced junk mail protection with MSN 8. 

For more information about this list (subscribe, unsubscribe, FAQ, etc), 
please see http://www.eskimo.com/~robla/em

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list