[EM] Re: Election-methods digest, Vol 1 #146 - 9 msgs

Dgamble997 at aol.com Dgamble997 at aol.com
Tue Jul 8 16:38:41 PDT 2003

Adam Tarr wrote in part:

Rather than vote for candidates you like more than average (if that is what 
approving means) the more reasonable strategy is to vote for the candidates 
you like more than your expected return from the election. The only time 
that means "vote for better than average" is when you know nothing about 
the polls, which is a ridiculous assumption in a real election.

In the last set of elections I voted in (for the London Borough of Greenwich 
2002) I was not aware of any polls being commissioned or published regarding 
the election locally ( they were simply not important enough for anyone to 
consider it  to be worth doing).

Adam Tarr also wrote:

More generally, if there is a clear front-runner and #2 candidate, then the 
expected return on the election is just on the #2 candidate side of the 
front-runner. So, if my utility for front-runner is 60, and my utility for 
second place is 80, then my expected return on the election is probably in 
the low 60s. On the other hand, if my utility for front-runner is 80, and 
my utility for second-place is 60, then my expected return on the election 
is probably in the high 70s

I am really not certain that when considering voting options that every voter 
has such a clear idea of strategy or behaves in a rational way. For example 
in the 2002 Greenwich elections ( which are held using a plurality at large 
method in  3 member districts, you have 3 votes and the 3 most popular candidates 
win) a Liberal Democrat candidate called Harry Potter  unexpectedly came top 
in one ward followed by 3 Conservatives and then the remaining two Liberal 
Democrats. The only explanation for this result that anybody could come up with 
is that Mr Potter shared his name with the wizard in the books by J K Rowling 
(which have been extremely popular in The UK for a number of years).

Also in student elections when I was at university ( held under IRV) in one 4 
candidate contest the candidate who came second was somebody dressed in a 
gorilla suit. His campaign address consisted of jumping about on the stage 
roaring, grunting and beating his chest and throwing bananas at the audience.

All voters do not think in terms of strategy and utility. Some people will 
vote for you because you have the same name as a wizard in a children's book and 
some people will vote for you if you throw a banana at them.

David Gamble



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