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

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Tue Dec 23 22:10:50 PST 2008

On Tue, 23 Dec 2008 23:05:56 -0000 James Gilmour wrote:
> Dave Ketchum  > Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 9:54 PM
>>Ok, I did not say it clearly.
>>Obvious need is to package arguments such that they are salable.
>>Take the one about a Condorcet winner with no first preferences.  Ugly 
>>thought, but how do you get there?  Perhaps with three incompatible 
>>positions that share equally all the first preferences, while a neutral 
>>candidate gets all the second preferences.
>>Assume it will never happen, so do not provide for such?  As I suggested 
>>before, somehow, if you assume such fate will, somehow, prove you wrong.
>>Provide a fence, forbidding getting too close to such?  Where do you put 
>>the fence without doing more harm than good?
>>Leave it legal, while assuring electors they should not worry about it ever 
>>occurring?  I see this as proper - it is unlikely, yet not a true disaster 
>>if it does manage to occur.
> Interesting points, but I don't think any of them address the problem I identified.  It is no answer at all to say "Obvious need is
> to package arguments such that they are saleable.".  The ordinary electors will just not buy it when a weak Condorcet winner is a
> real likely outcome.

Does "real likely" fit the facts?  Some thought:
     Assuming 5 serious contenders they will average 3rd rank with CW doing 
better (for 3, 2nd).  Point is that while some voters may rank the CW low, 
to be CW it has to average toward first rank to beat the competition.

Or, look at the other description of CW - to be CW it won all counts 
comparing it with other candidates - for each the CW had to rank above the 
other more often than the other ranked above the CW (cycles describe nt 
having a CW).
> I do not think you have to be anywhere near the zero first-preferences Condorcet winner scenario to be in the sphere of "politically
> unacceptable".  I am quite certain that the 5% FP CW would also be politically unacceptable, and that there would political chaos in
> the government in consequence.  The forces opposed to real reform of the voting system (big party politicians, big money, media
> moguls, to name a few) would ensure that there was chaos, and the electors would have an intuitive reaction against a weak Condorcet
> winner so they would go along with the demands to go back to "the good old ways".
> I said in an earlier post that I thought a strong third-placed Condorcet winner could be politically acceptable, and thus the voting
> system could be saleable if that was always the only likely outcome.   So I have been asked before where I thought the tipping point
> might be, between acceptable and unacceptable.  I don't know the answer to that question because no work has been done on that  -
> certainly not in the UK where Condorcet is not on the voting reform agenda at all.  In some ways the answer is irrelevant because
> the Condorcet voting system will never get off the ground so long as a 5% FP Condorcet winner is a realistic scenario, as it is when
> the current (pre-reform) political system is so dominated by two big political parties.
So long as the domination stays, Condorcet does not affect their being 
winners.  It helps electors both vote per the two party competition AND 
vote as they choose for third party candidates.

Only when (and if) the two parties weaken and lose their domination would 
the third party votes do any electing.
>>The primary battle between Clinton and Obama here presents a strong 
>>argument for getting rid of Plurality elections - better for them both to 
>>go to the general election fighting against their shared foe, McCain. 
> This represents a VERY idealistic view of politics  -  at least, it would be so far as the UK is concerned.  NO major party is going
> into any single-office single-winner election with more than one party candidate, no matter what the voting system.  Having more
> than one candidate causes problems for the party and it certainly causes problems for the voters.  And there is another important
> intuitive reaction on the part of the electors  -  they don't like parties that appear to be divided.  They like the party to sort
> all that internally and to present one candidate with a common front in the public election for the office.  But maybe my views are
> somewhat coloured by my lack of enthusiasm for public primary elections.
So long as the general election would be Plurality, the parties DESPERATELY 
needed to offer only single candidates there.  Thus the Democrats had to 
have a single candidate.

Clinton and Obama invested enormous sums in the needed primary - apparently 
the Democrats were unable to optimize this effort.  If the general election 
was Condorcet the Democrats could have considered a truce in this internal 
battle and invested all that money in making sure McCain lost.

Per your enthusiasm note, we see primaries as a normal way to decide on a 
single candidate for each party in the general election.  How is this 
handled in the UK - you agree the deciding needs doing.
>>Actually, the Electoral College complicates this discussion for 
>>presidential elections but it does apply to others.
> Yes, the Electoral College is a "complication" in any discussion about choosing a voting system for the possible direct election of
> the US President.  As a practical reformer, that's one I would leave severely alone until every city mayor and every state governor
> and every other single-office holder in the USA was elected by an appropriate voting system instead of FPTP.  But then I don't have
> a vote in any of those elections!
> James
  davek at clarityconnect.com    people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
  Dave Ketchum   108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708   607-687-5026
            Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
                  If you want peace, work for justice.

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