[EM] Query re. Approval voting, July 25

Adam Tarr atarr at purdue.edu
Fri Jul 25 19:38:14 PDT 2003

John B. Hodges wrote:

>My question is about the secondary consequences of the second strategy, 
>"favorite front-runner plus".

It's not that simple.  The strategy that tends to work the best is to 
approve everyone you like better than your expected return on the 
election.  In a case where there is a clear first and second-polling 
candidate, this reduces to: "approve everyone you like more than the 
front-runner, and approve the front-runner if you like him more than the 
second-place candidate."

>If a widely-believed poll, reporting that candidate B is a front-runner, 
>leads to many people giving approval votes to B, then there is serious 
>incentive to falsify polls. Those supporting B would want to have polls 
>saying B was running ahead, those opposing B would want polls saying B was 
>runnng behind.

In isolation, falsifying polls that say your candidate is ahead or behind 
wouldn't help you.  What WOULD help you is to mdefeat pairwise by a 
comfortable margin.  For example, if the last presidential election had 
been an approval vote, Bush's best fake poll would have been to show him in 
a neck-and-neck race with Patrick Buchannan.  This would have led Democrats 
to approve Bush.  A similar effect could be seen in France, where 
conservative Chicac had a massive second round victory over the more 
conservative Le Pen.

>So my question is this: how is Approval voting expected to perform in a 
>setting of "propaganda overload", with lots of info of all types available 
>but much of it false or shaded, and where there is much voter distrust of 
>it all?

As a voter, you still follow the strategy I listed first.  Since the 
skunked polls keep you from making an accurate assessment, you just take 
your best guess and go from there.  The obvious approach is to approve 
every candidate you like more than average.  Note that's average, not 
median: if you love one candidate and hate all the others, that means you 
only approve one.


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