[EM] strategy and method complexity and the advantage of minmax methods

Russ Paielli 6049awj02 at sneakemail.com
Mon Jun 6 21:39:24 PDT 2005

Anthony Duff anthony_duff-at-yahoo.com.au |EMlist| wrote:

> My impression is that the rampant strategic voting that occurs in the
> US is caused by the use of plurality.  I have lived in America, and
> discussed politics and voting with Americans, and it was obvious that
> the need to betray a favourite to vote for the lesser of two evils is
> apparent to most Americans.  I suspect that if Americans were given
> any rank ballot to vote on, then the practice of strategic voting
> would decline significantly, over time.  

The question of how fully the American public understands Duverger's 
"law" is an interesting one.

On the one hand, something like 95-97% of the vote typically goes to the 
two major parties, which indicates that the public has a good basic 
understanding of the "lesser of two evils" problem and the corresponding 
need for strategy. (Many Nader supporters learned a hard lesson in the 
2000 US Presidential election.)

On the other hand, around election time I still seem to hear a lot of 
moaning by Libertarians and Greens about being ignored by the media and 
being shut out of the debates -- as if the problem would go away if the 
media started giving them equal coverage with the major parties. I think 
that indicates a fundamental lack of understanding of the real problem 
they face.

In the end, I suspect most Americans understand that a vote for a minor 
party is a "wasted" vote, but many don't understand that the plurality 
system is the reason.


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