[EM] To Bill Lewis Clark re: stepping-stone

Bart Ingles bartman at netgate.net
Sat Jan 24 17:31:01 PST 2004

Adam H Tarr wrote:
> AS LONG AS you have two major factions that have comfortably more than two
> thirds of the first-place preference between them, IRV does a good job of
> preventing minor party candidates from "interfering" in the two party system.
> In this respect, it manages to solve the "spoiler" problem in its most commonly
> described form (i.e. the extremist party leeching votes from one of the major
> parties).

You could also argue that so long as the above condition holds, the
"lesser evil" strategy is obvious, and so no mechanism is really needed
to solve the "spoiler" problem.  We may call Nader the "spoiler" because
we have no better term, but the truth is that Nader didn't force anyone
to vote a certain way.  Anyone who voted for Nader thinking he had a
realistic chance of winning was either too crazy or too uninformed to
have any business voting.  It's probably a safe bet that almost everyone
who voted for Nader (at least in a competitive state such as Florida)
didn't much care what happened between Bush and Gore, and placed a
higher value on placing a protest vote.

As an aside, it's not clear to me that Gore would have netted anything
in Florida if IRV had been used.  Of the 1% or so Nader received, some
voters would have named either Bush or NOTA as the second choice.  So
Nader might have gained 1/8 or 1/4% against Bush from this group.  But
then Bush would have picked up additional votes from the Buchanan and
Libertarian voters.  So I wouldn't want to bet on whether IRV would have
changed the final outcome.


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