[EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative 2

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Sun Dec 21 15:39:31 PST 2008

Dave Ketchum > Sent: Sunday, December 21, 2008 3:51 AM
> Responding to one thought for IRV vs C (Condorcet):

My comments were not specific to "IRV versus Condorcet".

> > JG had written
> > When there is no majority winner they may well be prepared to take a 
> > compromising view, but there are some very real difficulties in 
> > putting that into effect for public elections.

> Given that a majority of first preferences name Joe, IRV and 
> C will agree that Joe wins.
> Given four others each getting 1/4 of first preferences, and 
> Joe getting a majority of second preferences:
>       IRV will award one of the 4, for it only looks at first preferences 
> in deciding which is a possible winner.
>       C will award one of the 5.  Any of them could win, but Joe is 
> stronger any outside the 5.

The "problem" cases I had in mind were much less extreme.

When there is a strong Condorcet winner, I think the idea would be sellable to ordinary electors (but there are remaining problems
about covering the rare event of cycles).  What I think would be completely unsellable would be the weak Condorcet winner.  That
winner would, of course, truly be the Condorcet winner  -  no question, but that does not mean the result would be politically
acceptable to the electorate.  Such a weak winner would also be considered politically weak once in office.

It MAY be possible to imaging (one day) a President of the USA elected by Condorcet who had 32% of the first preferences against 35%
and 33% for the other two candidates.  But I find it completely unimaginable, ever, that a candidate with 5% of the first
preferences could be elected to that office as the Condorcet winner when the other two candidates had 48% and 47% of the first
preferences.  Condorcet winner  - no doubt.  But effective President  -  never!


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