[EM] Real IRV Election, Disputable Result

RLSuter at aol.com RLSuter at aol.com
Wed Mar 15 13:46:05 PST 2006

I have doubts about how "serious" the strategic burying problem
really is. Most discussions I've seen on this list (and I'll admit that
I haven't always read them very carefully) seem to greatly
oversimplify the strategy problem by assuming that the major
strategic concern of voters is to help their favorite win. But
in fact, voters are often even more concerned about preventing
a "greater evil" candidate from winning. Furthermore, if there
are more than 3 or 4 candidates, many voters will have a
whole array of concerns they will attempt to satisfy with
their strategic calculations -- e.g.:

1. "I would really like A to win"
2. "I would really hate for B to win"
3. "I don't much like C either, but she's not as bad as B"
4. "D isn't nearly as good as A but much better than either B or C.
5. "I have mixed feelings about E, some good, some bad. He might
    turn out nearly as good as A or nearly as bad as C.

So my questions are, given the many different possible numbers
and varieties of candidates in different elections, combined with
the varying concerns different voters will have about different
candidates, how often are voters likely to use a burying strategy,
and how easy will it usually be -- even for voters who really excel
at strategic thinking (undoubtedly a very small percentage) -- to
decide that burying is a good strategy and how deep a particular
candidate should be buried? In short, how big a factor is strategic
burying ever really likely to be?

Are there are simple, widely accepted answers to these questions
that I've missed because I haven't been paying enough attention
to the posts on this list? If so, I'll be happy to apologize after being
set straight on this.

-Ralph Suter

In a message dated 3/15/06 3:22:59 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
election-methods-request at electorama.com writes:

<< JG-A does an evenhanded job of balancing CVD's rather tendentiously 
 pro-IRV piece, without ignoring the serious problem that Condorcet 
 methods have with strategic "burying". Recommended, along with the 
 linked piece that tries to address this problem (with, I'd say, mixed 
 We can all agree that if 1) all voters sincerely rank their 
 preferences, and 2) those rankings result in a Condorcet winner, that 
 the Condorcet winner should be elected. Suter acknowledges (2) but 
 entirely ignores (1). >>

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