[EM] Re et al Chicken and Egg

David L Wetzell wetzelld at gmail.com
Mon Jan 2 19:21:59 PST 2012

On Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 10:49 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm <
km_elmet at lavabit.com> wrote:

> David L Wetzell wrote:
>  Me playing the sucker for punishment yet again with Kristofer...,
> I'm not sure who the sucker is, actually!

Hopefully, there'll be some light and not too much heat, although we tend
to purport that so much is at stake that the latter is inevitable... I
really do appreciate the hard work you put into your reply to me.

>>  On Wed, Dec 21, 2011 at 6:18 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm
>>> <km_elmet at lavabit.com <mailto:km_elmet at lavabit.com>> wrote:
>>>     On 12/21/2011 05:10 AM, David L Wetzell wrote:
>>>>        Happy Holidays, I reply to RBJ, Ted Stern, Dave Ketchum and
>>>>        Kristofer M
>>>>        below.
>             DK:But when marketers lie and get caught, potential
>>>>>            customers get
>>>>>            suspicious as to future marketing.
>>>>>      dlw: To simplify is not to lie.
>>>>    "IRV finds the majority winner". Given that IRV doesn't even do that
>>>   by its own standards when it's limited to three ranks, is that a lie
>>>   or simplification?
>> It finds the majority winner more often than FPTP and always improves
>> the percent of votes allocated to the winner over a comparable FPTP
>> election.
> That's not what FV says. FV says "finds the majority winner", period. When
> someone says "read my lips: no new taxes", he doesn't mean "no new taxes
> except property taxes". He means "no new taxes". If he then weasels his way
> out of it (as politicians tend to do) after introducing property taxes, the
> customers (voters) will get suspicious.

dlw: In politics, all campaign promises are not hard and fast, but
statements of value and any push for any election reform is a political
election.  They must simplify the message to get it across to voters.

> IRV only finds the majority winner to begin with if you define majority
> winner as "non-Condorcet loser" the way FairVote does. Even by the FairVote
> definition of "non-Condorcet loser", if it's limited to three ranks, or if
> enough voters fail to fill in all the ranks, IRV can't do what FairVote
> claims it does.

That's because ranking umpteen candidates is another bowl full of cherries.
 Once again, in a world where relatively few voters want to rank even 3
candidates, it doesn't really matter.  The diffs in the Xs are not serious,
all things considered.


Thus, FairVote is "simplifying" (in a manner that to many customers will
> come off as lying -- see my "no new taxes" comparison) twofold. First, by
> redefining what a majority winner means. Second, by stating, even by their
> own definition, that IRV can always do what it only sometimes can do (bait
> and switch?).

At the end of the day, it's an empirical question how serious the
simplifications are.  I've no doubt that the opponents of electoral reform
will have a strong incentive to make the most of any conceivable perceived
flaw in any proposed electoral reform.

> (On a side note, I think it would be possible to construct a theoretical
> scenario where FPTP picks a winner that has less pairwise opposition than
> the IRV winner given these ballots. So "always improves the percent of
> votes allocated" is not strictly true, either. But you could probably
> dismiss that as a contrivance, so I won't.)

dlw: I'm guessing you could and I'm guessing it'd be quite unlike most
elections in the real world...

>     KM: "IRV solves the spoiler problem". Given that IRV exhibits center
>>>    squeeze, which by its nature involves spoilers, is that a lie or
>>>    simplification?
>> dlw: It's only a problem if the two major parties are not aligned around
>> the center.  This is what tends to be the case in the US historically.
>>  It's what would have become the case in Burlington VT if IRV had been
>> retained.
> Again, that's not what FairVote said. They didn't say "solves the spoiler
> problem as long as you vote strategically and thus reduce the influence of
> spoilers yourself, err...". They said "solves the spoiler problem". The
> Burlington voters found out that this wasn't true. They then repealed IRV.
> Who can fault them?

dlw: The line of causality is not complete... The transitional case where
there are not two major parties centered around the de facto center
presented an opportunity for the opponents of IRV to wage a strong campaign
against IRV.  This succeeded in repealing IRV by a small margin.  If more
well meaning electoral analytically informed people had stood up for IRV3,
it would have dispelled the misinformation campaign.  For IRV>> (2 rounds
if nobody gets at least 40%) and those were the only two options on the
ballot.  So if people who preferred alternatives to IRV like yourself but
are smart enough to read the writing on the wall about what's going on had
soft-pedaled your criticisms of it then IRV3 would have remained and you
couldn't point to Burlington as "the" proof that it's god-awful.

> Or try this. Let's say I was going to market Plurality. I then claimed
> "Plurality always elects a Condorcet non-loser". Someone later comes up and
> tells me "hey! this isn't true when you have more than two parties!". I
> simply say "oh, but if you had let the system continue for a few more
> elections, the voters would have understood not to vote against the lesser
> evil, and so they'd all vote for one of the two major parties and they
> would win - hence Plurality would always elect the Condorcet non-loser".
> Would you be impressed by such an argument?

dlw: Well, it'd still beat a monarchy...  Believe it or not, an angel does
not lose their wings everytime somebody votes strategically...  The only
strategic voters with IRV would be supporters of a "major" party that has
not positioned itself around the true political center.  This is not the
case with FPTP.

>     KM:"In IRV, voters just have to vote honestly". Given the Burlington
>>>    example, is that a lie or simplification?
>> dlw: Once again, the standard case in the US, the audience of FairVote,
>> is for there to be 2 major parties strategically positioned around the
>> de facto center.  You cut the legs to what would have been an
>> increasingly defunct GOP in Burlington, VT and it becomes 100% true.
> KM: It's a rather fragile balance. If the parties go too close to the
> center (de facto or not), they get center-squeezed. If the parties go too
> far away, they won't capture enough votes nor be at the center (de facto or
> not). How can you know that the fragile balance is exactly at where you
> want your de facto center to be, unless you define the latter in terms of
> the former?

dlw: You're getting too theoretical.  In real life, there are economies of
scale and scope that hinder the ability of new parties to squeeze major
parties centered around the true center.  Third parties can only gain
ground if the center moves and the major parties out of inertia fail to
move with it.  As such, the possibility a VT Progressive party can win even
if it's not the CW when the two major parties fail to adapt to the moving
center will force the two major parties to adapt more often.

> KM:Furthermore, that's besides the point. Of course you can make a
> statement true if you wave away all the counterexamples (like Burlington).
> But nowhere did FairVote say "voters have to vote honestly except when IRV
> seems to give significantly more choice than Plurality, in which case they
> then have to mop up IRV's problems themselves and vote strategically". They
> said "vote honestly", period.

dlw: You don't work in advertising/marketing do you?  If people vote
honestly then the predicted outcome is that a repositioning of the parties
ends the perceived problem.  So FairVote is right that their system will
work if people vote honestly.  Unfortunately, most rational choice models
used do not take into account the long-run endogeneity of
party-positioning.  It all serves to reduce | Xirv -Xoth|.

And besides, it is the simplification of the message by FairVote that Pirv
is >> Poth..., don't kill the paradigm-shifter, there'll be plenty of time
for further experimentation later on..

>     KM:Where do you draw the line between separating lie and
>>>    simplification? Do you just fit the line or curve so that all the
>>>    counter-IRV objections get clustered on the disingenuous side of the
>>>    line and the IRV marketing arguments get clustered on the "oh,
>>>    merely marketing simplifications" side of the line?
>> dlw: Context.  And FairVote gets the benefit of the doubt in my book
>> because they're the ones doing the spade-work of actually pushing for
>> electoral reforms with US voters with very limited frames of reference
>> for electoral reform.
> KM:Context is a really fuzzy description, good for moving a lot of
> goalposts. If you are going to be that kind to FairVote (out of context)
> and less kind to everybody else, that's your choice, but don't be surprised
> when the voters find FairVote's claims to be lies or politician-like
> "non-lie lies".

dlw: When you and anyone else start having the real world successes in
marketing electoral reform to the voters of the US, I will give you the
same treatment as FairVote.  But as of right now, they deserve it.

> I don't think you need a "sophisticated frame of reference" to understand
> that "safe to vote however you want" and "safe to vote however you want
> except when there's real choice" is not the same thing.

dlw:  When an election rule gives strong incentives for the two biggest
parties in an area to follow the center then it is safe to vote however you

>     The uncertainty within the parameters that you call p_irv and x_irv,
>>>    and the uncertainty within the truth that the party dynamics will
>>>    behave the way you do.
>> dlw: There's not much uncertainty about P_IRV being considerably bigger
>> than P_Other, at least in the near future in the US.  As for X_IRV, I
>> can only keep adding args that |Xirv-Xoth| is not-so-great in real life
>> and that the absence of a clear-cut single alternative alternative to
>> FPTP makes it so that lower PIRV does not raise POth proportionately.
> KM: Yes. P_irv is currently greater than P_other. That is too bad. I think
> P_irv is actually more like an economic bubble, because of the unappetizing
> properties of P_irv. If we do nothing, then P_irv will at some point burst.
> (That's what Jameson's wager is about). If we *do* start the race, we may
> overtake P_irv later and then we'll have avoided the risk of IRV blowing up
> in our faces.

dlw: "later" may be a long time... You're discussions over the various
election rules are not easy for most people to follow and it won't be hard
for the opponents of election reform to spin the matter and otherwise keep
the P_oth s down by playing the factions off of each other.  Plus, I think
there are utilitarian reasons IRV3 was the best election rule to start
with(which also are not the right sort of reasons to use when marketing
IRV), which will also P_oth down, so long as our current system remains in

> KM: As for |Xirv - Xoth| being not-so-great, you've really only showed
> that p(not(Xoth >> Xirv) | (DLW complex ecology comes to pass)).

dlw: I believe I meant p(not(Xoth >> Xirv) | (electoral realism)) >>0.  My
complex ecology is based on what I believe to be true for voters and the
IOW,  |Xirv-Xoth| <<Pirv-Poth in the short-run based on my complex ecology,
which includes the presumption that in at least the short-run there will
continue to be a strong tendency to two-party domination in the USA.  I
also argue that a two-party dominated system could end up being not so bad.
 The rhetorical thrust of this "complex ecology" or political vision is to
parry what I perceive as a counter-productive perfectionism among many
well-meaning folks who insist we need to do whatever it takes to end our
two-party dominated system.  I think such is less likely and harder to get
support from many US_Americans who are accustomed to a two-party dominated

IOW, I want change so badly, I'm willing to take the path of less
resistance and trust that extra-political cultural changes will enable the
crucial sorts of changes needed.

> KM: You've been somewhat circular in that respect. First you've said that
> the difference between other methods and IRV isn't so great because in your
> system, there will only be two major parties anyway. Then you've argued
> that we should stick with your "DLW complex ecology" because you can't get
> anything better with other single-office rules (because the difference
> between others and IRV is not so great) anyway. So you reach the conclusion
> that your system is the best if your system is the best.

dlw: Yes, a key point for me is that the tendency for there to be two major
parties strongly reduces the differences in values across single-winner
election rules, though that's not the only reason the compression of diffs.
 It is also true that the replacement of FPTP with IRV will not end this
tendency, which is one of the reasons Pirv>>Poth.  So my arg is buttressed
by how the USA tends to be dominated by two parties. To avoid circularity,
I simply need to give a compelling reason for why this fact is unlikely to
change in the short run.   I think one of the most robust reasons for this
tendency are the relative strength of our president and her/his nationwide
election.  It's quite costly to run a serious presidential election,
regardless of the election rule used, which creates economies of scale that
makes our system favor bigger parties.

As such, there's not evidence that if we only pushed some other better
election rule than IRV that we'd have a multi-party system instead of a
two-party dominated system.  We're not near the tipping point or the burden
of proof is on you to argue such.  But this does confirm my conditioning of
the relative valuing of various election rules on the continuation of
two-party domination in the US, which in turn buttresses my contention that
we focus on the Ps, not the Xs, in our electoral reform activism.

> Beyond that, my arguments have been twofold:
> First, that (DLW complex ecology comes to pass) is rather arbitrary, i.e.
> that "your particular arrangement of parties into local and more widespread
> organizations, the contesting of two-party status by smaller parties under
> a duopoly, etc" will happen and is desirable. Here, you tend to throw "US
> isn't Norway" counters at me, even though other people on this list have
> stated they think we should move beyond two-party rule too.

dlw: In a system that primarily uses first-past-the-post election rules,
smaller third parties that specialize in "more local" elections are more
fit than minor parties that try to rival the major parties.  They are more
fit because there are diseconomies of scale in forming "community" that
produces volunteer resources that can take the place of the $peech that
reinforces intra-party discipline in major (and larger minor) parties.
 Likewise, if those in power are almost all from two major parties then it
makes sense that in the short run any election reforms adopted will not
strongly challenge this tendency.

The fact that some US people want an end to 2 party rule does not matter
wrt the real-politiks of strategizing electoral reform in the US.  Those
who really want an EU multi-party system are a minority in the US.  They
are not the ones who are apt to prevail in a FPTP dominant political
system.  My point is that we can find in US history evidence that we don't
need to become a lot more like Norway to make our system work considerably
better than it has in recent history.

> KM:Second, that even granted [dynamic two party rule], which is somewhat
> less arbitrary than your complex ecology, Xoth is much greater than Xirv.
> I've used Yee, but you don't think that ports to reality, not even the
> border arguments. I've pointed at center squeeze, but you think the de
> facto center is somehow within IRV's safe area but not Plurality's safe
> area. I've pointed at that other methods do better at avoiding embarrassing
> outcomes than IRV, but you say that it takes scheming Plurality campaigners
> to point out those outcomes and so they aren't important either. And so
> on...

dlw: At issue is more so how much Xoth > Xirv.   I think center squeeze
doesn't matter so much when the center is a moving target.  As for the
embarrassing outcomes of IRV, I think if more of us do-gooders stood up for
it(preferably in hybridized form), it'd have fewer reversals.  For with
IRV, the strategic voters won't be the dispossessed minority dissenters
from the status quo but rather the stalwarts of the major party that
refuses to adapt to reposition itself around the true center.

Yee models take the position of the parties as given, I'm saying it's an
important endogenous variable in real life.

"you think the de facto center is somehow within IRV's safe area but not
Plurality's safe area."  I don't recall this arg, most of your criticisms
of IRV are even stronger against FPTP, which suggests the value of
strategically supporting IRV against FPTP or something close to FPTP.

> dlwAs for party dynamics, quasi-proportional PR in "more local" elections
>> isn't rocket science, neither are the fact that it'd prevent either
>> major party from dominating a state's politics, which is the basis for
>> the perceived tendency among politicos in the US for a party to get a
>> permanent majority.  If you take that prize away, you increase the
>> incentives for whichever two major parties are on top to cooperate.
> KM: As long as your PR is PR enough, and as long as IRV won't pull too
> much. You're having a real balancing act on your hands, and your system
> requires such. Let's just dispense with that and go with something that
> will work without having to be fine-tuned.

 dlw: I don't understand what is PR enough or "IRV won't pull too much".
 My system is meant to prevent any party from dominating, increase the
number of competitive elections and make the two dominant parties have to
adapt to the moving center, hopefully shifted by groups like #OWS.
  I don't expect any of us are going to get to fine-tune...  It's going to
be political jujitsu, "less is more" for quite a while by virtue of the
reality of how difficult it is to make electoral reforms in a two-party
dominated system that tilts too easily to effective single-party domination
at the state and national levels.

> And to get your PR by the means of that momentum you so like, you'll have
> to have FairVote agree to promote your system. You'll have to have them
> introduce PR soon enough that the IRV-without-PR doesn't give enough power
> to the major parties that said major parties can block PR. Remember, you
> didn't oppose Australia as an example of IRV tending towards uncontested
> two-party domination - you only said that your arrangement of PR could
> counterbalance it. If IRV gets there first, PR won't be around to do the
> counterbalancing, and then the big two will be even stronger than in
> Australia.

I don't support IRV alone.  FairVote is going to be pushing for American
forms of PR, which pragmatically will be like I have argued.
My arg is that since |Xirv-Xoth|<Pirv-Poth, at least in the short-run, and
PR is also going to be on the agenda then it's important for us to set
aside our dickering over X and support FairVote(and IRV) in the coming
year.  Let's bolster the short run level of Pirv, trusting that Poth's
chances will be higher once IRV has replaced FPTP as the primary
single-winner election rule.

>  dlw: I agree.  I think the root diff is our assessment of the badness of
>> a two-party dominated system.  I believe from my country's history that
>> it's not so bad if handicapped by the use of multi-winner elections in
>> "more local" elections and if the duopoly is contested by minor parties,
>> as was the historical practice in my country.   Because of this
>> assessment, I don't mind the fact that IRV doesn't always get the
>> Condorcet Winner when the two major parties fail to align themselves
>> around the de facto center, as was the case in Burlington VT.  I see
>> such as a way to incentivize the two major parties to realign themselves.
> KM:But IRV also fails (and you've said it did behave erroneously in
> Burlington) when parties go *too close* to the center. That's not a failure
> to approach the center, except by IRV's standard. And by IRV's standard,
> IRV is the best. Of course it is. That is tautologous.

 dlw:It didn't get the CW. But it would have moved the center and then
gotten the CW if it had been continued, hence Xirv is not << Xoth.  It
"fails" to maintain a stable 3-party equilibrium around the center.  This
is part of why it tends to continue effective two-party rule, but that does
not imply Xirv<<Xoth as well.

> I want to point out that "the badness of a two-party dominated system" was
> only one of the tines of my argument. I tried to show you that even if you
> want nothing more than contested two-party rule, IRV won't give it to you.
> No amount of reference to Europe will help that.

I didn't appeal to EU, I appealed to US history.  We had a contested
two-party rule in the past in the US with FPTP.  All it took was the use of
a quasi-proportional state legislative election and the ability of third
parties to gain ground in state politics, like with the VT Progressive
party or the NY's Working Families Party.  At issue is why it became
"not-so-contested".  The use of FPTP helped, so did the cold war red scare.
 The ending of 3-seat state reps elections in IL also probably played a
part... but the most important point for me is that US politics worked a
lot better prior to the past 40+ years, while there was a two-party
dominated system.  As such, that must not be what is so bad.  Your arg goes
against the felt experiences and national pride of US_Americans and is
thereby unlikely to help change things here.

>    If we had the same priors, i.e. the same judgement of either the
>>>   likely range of these parameters or of the data from which we make
>>>   the conclusion about the likely range of these parameters, we would
>>>   be in agreement. We're not, so we don't.
>  But the burden of proof is still on your side, not mine, due to how
>> Pirv>>Poth.
> "Pirv >> Poth" regards perception. I have argued that it's wrong. I have
> further argued, even "on your turf", as it were, that the other methods are
> better. So if you claim the burden of proof is on my side, I say that it
> has shifted, and that your counters of "well, within my complex ecology,
> IRV is good enough" isn't... good enough. Nor is "well, I'm middle-brow so
> I don't have to take that into account". Brow level tells us nothing about
> what really is the case.

dlw: You are right that it regards perception.  I believe IRV is defensible
as a complement to American forms of PR.  It'll take us forward.  We just
have to defend it better the next time it's attacked/slandered by cases
like Burlington.  It didn't fail, because success is not always getting the
CW winner.  It made our system gravitate towards the moving center, thus
|Xirv-Xoth| remains smallish.  What happened was IRV had an outcome that
made its continued use vulnerable and those of us who want change got
divided and conquered by those who oppose change.

And wtf, Yes the burden of proof is on your side.  You're not a leader of
electoral reform, you're arguing for alternatives that could sidetrack us
from moving forward.  And the sad fact of the matter is that electoral
analytical args have not settled the question of what is the best electoral
alternative to FPTP and are not compelling in real life and there's a
paucity of empirical evidence about the use of Condorcet etc. in real life
political elections.  That's what really is the case.  Get out of the
cloud, either you attack the value of Pirv in the short-run or you bolster
it for the short run.  That is the choice you face.  Right now, it's too
soon to let a thousand flowers bloom on electoral reform movements in the

>   PR does help 3rd parties(we agree right?) and American forms of PR
>>>>  would tend to help LTPs since there'd be fewer seats in plenty of
>>>>  "more local" "super-districts", this tends not to encourage
>>>>  nation-wide 3rd parties.
>>>    KM:PR does help third parties; or rather, we can say that systems
>>>    that give political minorities representation help the organizations
>>>    that represent those minorities. If your American PR does just that,
>>>    then it will help third parties.
>> dlw:By sort of helping third parties, we would give minorities more exit
>> threat and thereby also more voice within the major parties.
> If it's fine-tuned correctly. Again, I think that it would be better to
> just go to something that doesn't require that kind of fine-tuning. Instead
> of basing your construction upon an idea of how parties are going to act
> with respect to each other, look at the numerous examples from practice.
> Use real PR, not quasi-PR and know that, like in countries with STV, you
> *will* get minority representation within the body that uses it. By all
> means, use 5-seat STV, but please don't bias it by adding a majority
> component unless you compensate for it elsewhere like MMP does.

dlw: I argue from expediency.   The flaws of a system that only uses
single-winner elections are so strong in the US that what some might term
as quasi-PR might be justified simply because of the need.
That's why I'm going to support whatever FairVote and other electoral
reform orgs decide to push for at state levels, because it's not worth it
to sock it out over getting it perfect...

>     KM:Of course, it is possible to twist PR so that it is no longer PR.
>>>    Using a divisor rule with an enormous large-party bias would be one
>>>    way of doing it, for instance. Having a very low number of seats per
>>>    district is another way, as that imposes an effective threshold
>>>    below which a group gets no representation.
>> dlw: The barrier will be higher, but there'd be other positive effects
>> without nailing proportionality.  But this is why I very much want 3
>> seat LR Hare to get third party state reps elected.  I can live with a
>> 3-5 seat STV with a Droop Quota for US congressional elections as a
>> matter of realpolitik, but I think it's important to give third parties
>> a constructive role to play in the US's democracy, which means helping
>> them get representation.
> KM:Ordinary 3-seat gives a 25% threshold, which is rather large in my
> mind. 5 is better.

dlw: I said 3-seat LR Hare.  It's just like FPTP, but the top 3 candidates
get elected, unless the top candidate beats the 3rd place candidate by more
than 1/3rd of the total vote.  This enables a 3rd party candidate to get
elected with as little as 10% of the vote if the top candidate gets less
than 43.3% of the vote.  It's even better than Ordinary 5-seat PR, and it'd
have more competitive elections...   It's the only party-list form of PR
that doesn't have party lists(there's tacitly a list of 2 or 3, since the
candidate could announce their vice-candidate(s) beforehand or select them
after they've won multiple seats).  It also doesn't ask voters to rank
candidates, which is probably better in a "More local" election that's
likely to get less of their attention.

> KM: As for realpolitik, I'd say this: if the powers that be had absolute
> power, there would be no discussion of electoral reform at all. So we're
> bound to upset the status quo somewhat just by advocating for a change that
> allocates power away from those who already have it.


> You could argue further that those who have power will oppose such
> reallocation to the extent that it is effective. They'll humor you if they
> think your change won't make a difference. Don't exert yourself just to
> water down your reform - you might concede too much.

I think the morale of the story is the need to find a middle-way between
our ideals and the existing power-structure.  This is why I support a
2-party dominated system that is contested and can't tilt to effective
single-party rule.  What you said about 3rd parties gaining ground with PR
used, can also be said for a handicapping of the rivalry between the two
major parties when 3-5 seat PR(or quasi-PR) elections are used.  US history
suggests from IL that the use of such in state reps elections would be
enough to prevent any party from dominating a state's politics.

> KM: In another post, you claimed RBJ was "defeatist".

dlw: The context was to say that the defeat of IRV in Burlington had
poisoned the well against electoral reform there for a long period of

> KM: Well, isn't it defeatist to hobble proportionality just so the
> gatekeepers will be happy?

dlw: No, because they won't be happy about the use of quasi-PR in "More
local" elections.  If they had been happy with such then they wouldn't have
gone to such lengths to remove it from use in IL in 1980.  They like having
a state's politics tilt to single(their)party rule and want the same for US
nat'l politics.

> KM: Isn't it to hedge all your hopes on a model that has to be fine-tuned
> to achieve balance between plurality and domination, where the introduction
> of the two parts has to be done in sequence, when your tuning could be
> wrong or your timing off and you could end up with further uncontested
> two-party rule?

If Am forms of PR is introduced then it'll help IRV/single-winner reforms.
 This has been the desire from the get-go, as far as I can tell.
 FairVote's past advocacy of IRV alone has been out of expediency so they
could maintain their org ready in preparation for a year like this one when
anti-duopoly/incumbent sentiment is strong.
The only fine-tuning needed of 3-5 seat PR in super-districts would be to
give the leadership of the party-in-power enough controls so they can get
things done, in spite of the existence of a divided gov't.

> The proportional representation leagues of the 20th century didn't have to
> hedge anything. They pushed for STV without any qualifiers, they got STV,
> and they got minority representation within the bodies that used it. They
> didn't say "oh, we can only hope that the powers-that-be are wrong and that
> our fine-tuning appears to give them continued power whereas it really
> gives a contested two-party rule". They said "let's get PR. Let's throw the
> machines out", and they *did* get PR, and they *did* throw the machines
> out. Only really dirty red-baiting tricks get the machines back in.

dlw: And my point is that we need to rally together to do the same thing
and that includes burying the hatchet over IRV as the de facto
single-winner alternative to FPTP.  This can be coupled with prioritizing
PR over the use of IRV, which I think is going to happen in the US.

>  dlw: It's based on my country.  Small parties don't need to build up
>> enuf momentum to become minor parties who can challenge the major
>> parties. The US is far more politically heterogenous than say Norway.
>>  So even if our system tends to be dominated by 2 major parties, the
>> "right" two parties will differ by state and that will enable minor
>> parties who are able to be among the top two in at least one state to
>> challenge the major parties.
> KM:If you get the balance right. How do you know that different states
> will have different major parties?

dlw: Because the de facto political center is quite different across
states.  This is why there's a VT Prog  party.  I reckon that there'll
emerge versions of Christian Democratic parties in the south in the near
future, inasmuch as I don't think the GOP religious right activist base are
going to be happy with how they've been strong-armed by their

We just need to push Am forms of PR indefinitely to force changes in the
dynamics of our country's politics.  I trust that the 2-parties ability to
push back will keep us from swinging too far to the use of PR.

> KM: Perhaps the influence of minor parties will be limited to poking at
> the big two, like what you mentioned below about Illinois and Minnesota.
> You should have something from which you can infer that "if we use IRV +
> PR, then at least in one state, a national third party will become one of
> the big two there".

dlw: Even if that's the case if neither major party can dominate a state's
politics then both will be changed in their policies and behavior for the
better...  The threat of a 3rd party rival emerging doesn't have to be high
to be consequential.  As shown by prospect
we don't tend to handle small probability outcomes with strong negative
outcomes very well.

> KM: Let's look at it differently. At one end of things you have the
> influence given to third parties by Plurality. Basically, this is when
> third parties say to the closest major party: "go in our direction or we
> pull voters to us, which will split the vote, which will get the other
> major party into office". That's clearly not enough to make third parties a
> counterbalance to money.

dlw: It's not enough, but it's a start...

> KM: At the other end of things you have true multipartyism. Disregard
> European vs US here, and just consider that multipartyism would solve the
> problem (otherwise there would be no such thing as a coalition).

dlw: But that's just it, political systems rarely change that drastically
so the focus needs to be on moving from where we have begun, not imagining
where we'd like to end up....

> KM:Then there are two questions you have to ask. First: how do you know
> that your mix will pull far enough towards the diversity side that you'll
> get different local major parties?

dlw: When you have 50 states, you can simply play the odds...both of
getting Am forms of PR and helping to birth a minor party or two.  The US
is ripe for such right now and it'd only need to succeed or come close to
succeeding once to make a difference.

> KM: I suppose you'd use Illinois as your answer here. Did third parties
> come to lasting power in Illinois, or did they just "poke the sides of the
> major parties"? How about Wisconsin? Their Progressive Party doesn't seem
> to have lasted.

dlw: IL's republican party had to be more dynamic or moderate than
elsewhere to compete.  It was abetted in this in that it had
representatives from all over the state and significant party primaries
from all over the state.  There was some third party representation at the
state level, but it was not great due to quasi-proportional nature of the
3-seat rule used.  The more significant fact is that other nearby states
that were/are economically dependent on IL could be more politically
independent of IL due to the inability of either major party to dominate
IL's politics.

The Prog party rose and fell with the fortunes of its leader Robert
LaFollette.  It changed the Democratic party and got shaken by the McCarthy
red scare.  If they'd used their political capital for the state use of PR,
they'd have likely had more staying power as a party.  As it is, third
party support is strong in WI still, relative to  other states.  We could
end up with a Green Democratic party there.

> Second: why settle for this amount of influence with the tradeoffs you
> have to make? Don't voters deserve to be able to vote honestly most of the
> time?

dlw: Power tends to corrupt.  Ideology loses its effectiveness as a glue
with larger groups, like with major and minor parties.  No matter what
parties say are their guiding principles, these will confound their
This is why I prefer my "complex ecology".  If a change is needed then
we'll need folks willing to follow MLKjr and stick their necks out to move
the political center that the two major parties(of that moment) align
themselves around.

> KM: Don't third parties deserve to get their opinions heard beyond just as
> a check on the major parties? We know that from throughout the world,
> multipartyism *does* work. Not just in Europe, not just in a homogenous
> Norway, but throughout the world.

dlw: I agree that PR "works" in your country and elsewhere.  My view is an
analog to Pascal's wager: If multipartyism is the telos, we lose nothing in
the long-run from presuming that the US's going to continue to have a
two-party dominated system and picking our battles pragmatically so as not
to end this tendency in the short-run, but I have a hunch that my complex
ecology could prove to be both robust and good.

Outsiders, like myself, do deserve to be given a constructive role in the
US's system.  I trust that we will emulate MLKjr and Gandhi in this regard
much in the coming century, which will reduce the immediate pressure to
push for a multi-party system.  The two major parties will be "bearable"
for many more of us outsiders.

KM:To this, you would probably answer "momentum and realpolitik". I've
> already replied to the realpolitik. As for momentum, it's not too late. If
> the advanced methods really are better, let's show that they are. If
> FairVote wants to champion IRV, ultimately we can't stop them, but it'd be
> better if we could just move to something better, all of us.

dlw: It might be better if we let FairVote keep face on IRV for
single-winner election rules and support them more so for their advocacy on
the use of multi-winner election rules?   This is my arg here that there's
not enough compelling evidence that Xoth>>Xirv to justify dickering over it
and potentially harming FairVote's cred among US progressives in the

Furthermore, p_IRV may be a bubble, as I've hinted. If so, the right thing
> is not to inflate the bubble further - the Plurality supporters have plenty
> of pins by which to prick it. Instead, we should choose something more
> durable. Neither the voters nor our opponents will be so forgiving as to
> say "it's their first try, let's be gentle".

dlw: Even if it were a bubble then the kicker is to keep it inflating and
trust that it's successes will pave the way for additional innovations in
single-winner election reforms.  It's not easy to get a bubble going, it's
a lot easier to deflate it with a combo of obscurantism and perfectionism.
 If we support IRV (at least strategically) then it'll prove resistant to
reversals like in Burlington.  The combo of better understanding of it,
more unified support of it over FPTP by electoral reform advocates, its'
potential hybridization with Approval Voting and it being complemented by
PR will make it more resilient.

>     KM:So, in the absence of all of that, the only thing we have is
>>    theory. Well, theory and your Illinois example. I think that it's a
>>    very risky assumption to put the Illinois example against Yee,
>>    criteria, etc. and then say that the Illinois example wins.
>>    Furthermore, I think it's silly to take that risk when the
>>    opportunity of reform presents itself: better do it right and have
>>    something that *will* work, than rely on limited examples and push
>>    for something that only might.
>> dlw: Has the Condorcet winner been used much for political elections?
>>  If IRV examples are scarce then other purportedly better single-winner
>> examples are even more scarce...   IL wins because it's empirical.  It
>> lasted for a century and was only ended by a very misleading referendum
>> campaign during a time of great antipathy against state legislators.
> The Condorcet *winner*, sure. Even FairVote makes a point to that IRV
> picks the CW more often than does Plurality - which is part of why I'm so
> mystified that they don't want to add just a single little tweak to make
> IRV fully Condorcet. (They then point out "core support", but this seems
> more like a justification than a reason - it's easy to make elections where
> the CW has greater "core support" than the IRV winner. But I digress.)

dlw: Cuz there could be unintended consequences of that tweak that end up
making it not a clear-cut choice and it'd then be too easy for the
opponents of electoral reform to divide and conquer activists caught
between two rules.

> KM: You probably meant a Condorcet *method* rather than a Condorcet
> *winner*, though. Off the bat, let's mention Marquette, Michigan, which
> used Nanson's method for local elections. I don't know for how long they
> did, but they did use it. Then we can continue by listing political
> organizations from the Schulze method Wikipedia article:
> "Pirate Party of Australia
> Pirate Party of Austria
> Pirate Party of Brazil
> Pirate Party of France
> Pirate Party of Germany
> Pirate Party of New Zealand
> Pirate Party of Sweden
> Pirate Party of Switzerland"
> And before you wave those facts away by saying the Pirate Parties are so
> tiny they don't count, keep in mind that the Pirate Party of Sweden have
> representatives in the Parliament of the European Union, and that Pirate
> Party of Germany members hold seats in the House of Representatives of
> Berlin.

dlw: Good for them.  What works well with relatively few voters and less
consequential outcomes may not work as well in other cases.   I expect
there'd be more such in the future.  I'm not against electoral
experimentation.  I accept that US politics is not the right place for such
right now.

>  KM:You still haven't given me any numbers. If we're going to resolve
>>> anything, we'd have to find some kind of agreement as to what data
>>> would be accepted.
>> dlw: Case studies.  I'd like lots of case studies. There are (at
>> least) three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and voter utilities...
>> I distrust rational choice models.  I do not expect hard numbers for
>> Xs and find analytical args over which rule has the biggest X to be
>> circuitous and not fruitful for raising the P of some lucky election
>> rule...
> P is (honestly) raised by advocating for a rule. P is lowered by pointing
> out problems with a rule. Analytical arguments take two forms: either that
> you show that generally, the outcome will be better; or that you show that
> there won't be problematic cases. The former boosts P directly, the latter
> shows that the current P is based on fact and thus makes the method more
> resistant to backsliding.

dlw: And our disagreement is over how serious the perceived problems are.
 There's a path-dependency involved with advocating for electoral reform.
 It makes it easier to stick with rules that are closer to what's already
been pushed, even if there are perfectly good alternatives available.  As
such, given the transaction costs of advocating for any alternative to
IRV(and the consensus statement of this list-serve shows there isn't
consensus on what such would be), it's better for us to defuse our
analytical args that lower P_irv.

> KM: Raising P by closing your eyes and say "I do believe in momentum"
> will, at best, get you through with a method that's so-so when you could
> have got something that's much better. At worst, it'll inflate a political
> bubble that'll burst - and when it does, the fallout will hurt all
> electoral reformers.

dlw: That's akin to fear-mongering.  IRV's marginal reversal at Burlington
was not simply due to its "inherent flaws" so much as a concerted attack on
it, abetted by snipes by electoral reformers who have invested themselves
in other alternatives to FPTP.   If more of us choose not to snipe at IRV
and instead focus on subverting the obfuscating args against it then the
momentum will continue and increase the scope for electoral experimentation
in t he US.

> KM: As for case studies, I don't know how detailed a study you need. If
> you need multiple elections with the observation of dynamics that follows,
> you're not going to have many examples. Your best hope there would be to
> look at the organizations I have mentioned that use Condorcet internally -
> or for that matter, the UN's use of Approval. I haven't pierced the
> organizational veil enough to know what kind of dynamics have arose from
> the use of those, but I do know that they are still using these methods.
> Some in the Swedish Pirate Party have argued that the Condorcet method they
> use (Schulze) is so complex as to be technocratic rather than democratic,
> but despite this, the method is still in use.

dlw: That would be good.  I'm betting they haven't faced a concerted attack
on the method, such as was faced in Burlington VT.   And I'd agree that the
Condorcet method is complex, especially when there isn't a CW, which
doesn't help with PCondorcet.  Similar could be said for a pure IRV, but
then I'd counter by suggesting my hybrid approach....

> KM: If you lower your bar a little, there is the Orsay exit poll. Balinski
> & Laraki got 74% of the voters in Orsay, France, to vote Majority
> Judgement-style in an exit poll. The results showed a different winner, and
> the "spoiler" (Le Pen) got decisively placed last in comparison to his
> significant (if not winner-level) support in the official election.

KM: Furthermore, as I have stated before, the voters acted as if there were
> more serious candidates - there was less of a difference between the
> results than in Plurality - and the winner (Bayrou wins) was consistent
> with the results of larger-scale pairwise polls (of the form "who would you
> vote for in a hypothetical second round", where the polls showed Bayrou
> would beat Sarkozy, the actual top-two winner). So I think it's pretty
> clear that MJ improved upon top-two here. Sarkozy won in the top-two and
> would likely also win under IRV - although you could fudge the data to make
> any of the top three win under IRV.

dlw: Yes, but then one could argue that the diff in Xs is still limited if
the Socialists strategically supported Bayrou in the next election.  This
is another case where the two biggest party-groups were not centered around
the de facto center.   This is arguably not stable.

> You can see the details of that poll and analysis at
> http://rangevoting.org/**OrsayTable.html<http://rangevoting.org/OrsayTable.html>.
> Other French 2007 studies have also been made, using different voting
> systems, and you can look at http://rangevoting.org/**
> French2007studies.html <http://rangevoting.org/French2007studies.html>for the data. Bayrou wins in all of them except the official top-two count
> and IRV. There is a caveat: the voters in the ranked ballot poll was told
> the method would be IRV - the ballots were then run through other methods
> by Warren. Bayrou, the CW, came in third in the IRV order.

dlw: I agree that IRV would not sustain a situation like existed in France
or being a good primary alternative to the status quo rule in France.  I do
not anticipate such a situation emerging and sustaining itself in the US.

> KM: In 2002, Laslier and Straeten ran an Approval exit poll in Loiret and
> in parts of Orsay. 77.6% of the voters from these voting stations
> participated. Again, results were more even than with Plurality, even given
> that the Plurality round was just the first round of TTR (which would tend
> to make for more even results than a "have to vote for the lesser of two
> evils" one-round Plurality count). Warren has some data at
> http://rangevoting.org/**FrenchStudy.html<http://rangevoting.org/FrenchStudy.html>, and that page also links to the papers themselves (where you can read
> details of the experimental setup and so on).
> There have also been Approval studies in Germany. See
> http://rangevoting.org/**GermanApprovalStudies.html<http://rangevoting.org/GermanApprovalStudies.html>. Yet again, the results were a lot more even than under Plurality; people
> acted as if there were more choices.

I think studies like that are great.

> But I can hear you already: "those are just the EU-friendly nations being
> used to multipartyism. Here in America, we have two parties! We're used to
> that, it's our way!". That's one way to do the "let's make the criteria so
> strict nothing passes muster so my method wins by default" dance. But even
> if you do, wander over here:

> htI'tp://rangevoting.org/PsEl04.**html<http://rangevoting.org/PsEl04.html>. Another exit poll, this time in the United States, in 2004. Under both
> Range and Approval voting, the voters acted as if the third parties were
> more serious choices than under Plurality. In the Approval context, you can
> pretty much see Bush holding the conservative/Republican half (less a
> little), Gore and Nader holding the liberal half (less a little), and a
> bunch of small parties taking the rest. In Range, it's the same, but the
> small parties are no longer sliver-small.

Like I've written above, the importance and scope of the US presidential
elections make it hard for a third party candidate to win.  These elections
in turn are important party-builders for the two major parties and tend to
fortify our two-party dominated system.  These pie graphs show how high is
the bar even when other election rules are used, which then tends to
mitigate the diffs in the relative value of the different election rules,
at least in the short-run for the US.

> So that doesn't convince you, either? Polls of the sort "how much do you
> like the candidates" regularly show a more even, more multiway race than do
> Plurality elections in the US. See http://rangevoting.org/**
> RangePolls.html <http://rangevoting.org/RangePolls.html> , which I've
> mentioned before.

Once more, for the US, the results are not that different.   It is
inconsequential that Anderson would have come in 2nd, instead of Carter in
the other election rules.  There's no prize for coming in second place in
US presidential elections, at least not any more...

> In summary, voters seem to show that they aren't inherently two-party.
> When they vote, they vote in a way that shows there's a contest not among
> just the top two, but that the contest also includes parties that are
> usually considered "third" or "minor". And we know from the methods that
> they don't suffer center squeeze, so they can also make good use of the
> additional information without the voters having to twist themselves into
> an "I only like two parties" shape (as you want them to do under IRV).

I agree that we aren't inherently two-party.  I promise to resent the two
major parties always.  I choose to accept this tendency in the US for the
near future, because I believe the two major parties can be reformed so as
to better house or accommodate the variety of voter preferences in the US.

> KM: If the results I've given for some reason aren't valid, then you still
> won't get a worse result with the advanced methods - but if you stick with
> IRV and the people really want more than two real choices (as seems likely
> by interpreting the above), then you've got a problem.

dlw: Or I'll trust that IRV will be a gate-way electoral reform and will
join others in fostering further experimentation and changes later.

>  KM: Say, for instance, that I run the Bayesian regret calculations,
>>> and that I decide to limit myself to four candidates (even though I
>>> think there should be more), so that you can't dispute that aspect.
>>> Say, further, that I get a result that the best Condorcet rule
>>> improves upon IRV about 10% as much as IRV improves upon Plurality.
>>> Then you could easily say "see, Condorcet isn't worth it". On the
>>> other hand, if I got a result that the best Condorcet rule improves
>>> upon IRV 10x as much as IRV improves upon Plurality, then you could
>>> also claim "yeah, but that's a static simulated result under
>>> conditions that aren't realistic, so in reality X_other - X_irv is
>>> still small".
>> dlw: I'd say it'd be impressive regardless, but I get your point...
>> I would then add: I think 4 candidates is more realistic, given the
>> tacit equitable distributional assumptions used to generate the lies,
>> uhr voter preferences used for Bayesian Regret calculations. I also
>> think that the X of Condorcet would be lowered more than the X or IRV
>> by the bounded rationality of voter, since there'd be more GI and
>> more GO and it makes sense that the top ranking would have more
>> signal and less noise for many voters. Furthermore, the hybridization
>> of IRV and Approval Voting would raise the BR and lower the gap...BR
>> analysis has shown IRV to do its best relatively when there are only
>> 3 candidates and that is the context in which the hybrid would use
>> IRV.
> In other words, you think the comparison wouldn't be right if it went
> against you. If you can rewrite the rules of the game after the results
> come in, then you can't really blame me for not wanting to play :-)

dlw: No, I'm saying I'm willing to play the game but dicker with the
evidence some based on my priors, including my commitment to support
FairVote's de facto leadership in electoral reform in the USA.  I already
know that IRV fairs pretty close to other election rules when there are
only 3 candidates.  It's not hard to imagine something similar with 4

> KM: By the way, I already countered your claim of GIGO. Olson's graphs
> show IRV does worse with noise than does Condorcet, and the Condorcet cycle
> argument actually goes in favor of Condorcet when people truncate.
> Remember: if everybody truncated beyond their first choice, a Condorcet
> cycle would be impossible. If everybody fully-ranked, a Condorcet cycle is
> possible. Now what do you think will happen as you decrease the average
> number of submitted ranks? More or fewer Condorcet cycles?

dlw:  Like I said, it depends on the nature of the noise.  I figure it
would be somewhat endogenous.  Can low-info voters be counted on to pick
their top candidate better than their 3rd and their 3rd better than their
7th favorite?

I  will admit that my intuition about a condorcet cycle probably was wrong.
 I was going off of how it's harder to get CW winners when there are ties
and so since non-ranked candidates are all tied it seems there'd be more
cycles.  At any rate, if only 3 rankings were allowed, it would lower the
diff in the value of IRV and Condorcet methods, since the latter's presumed
advantage is based on its use of all of the information.

> KM: Your use of hybridization is good compared to unadorned IRV. You only
> have to go one step further - from AV3/IRV3 to AV2/IRV2. Have you got
> FairVote to go even to AV3/IRV3? If so, why can't they - or you - go just
> one more step?

dlw: I'm not sure the extent to which they're considering IRV3/AV3.  After
the counting of the statewide judicial vote in VA took 40+ days, I think
it'd naturally solve their problem and let them maintain their marketing
strategy.  It'd just be a short-cut to both make it easier to explain and
to get the final winner sooner.  As for me, I do not anticipate them
changing horses going in very different directions midstream.  I also think
most of the time the diff between the two would not be great.

>  Just as I think it's safe to say that the X of Approval and Score
>> Voting would be lowered more by relaxing the cardinal utility
>> assumption implicit in most Bayesian Regret calculations.  Let Xij be
>> the initial cardinal utility of voter i for candidate j.  Let Si be
>> generated from a log-standard normal distribution.  Let all the Xijs
>> be transformed to become Yij=(10^(1-Si) * Xij^Si).    Then, decide
>> who to vote for based on the Yijs, while assessing the results based
>> on the Xijs.
>> The bottom line: Bayesian Regret is a heuristic and hence the proofs
>> gotta be in the pudding.
> Hence my question as to what kind of pudding you would accept. For
> instance, if I did the above transformation and Range (or MJ) got 100%
> relative improvement wrt IRV as IRV wrt Plurality, would you change your
> mind, or would you just move the goalposts?

dlw: Yes, I would value them more.  My ego would make me hedge some, but I
could not say it's all a wash.  Heuristics are inevitable and if we aren't
willing to change our minds due to them then it becomes war without end.

>  KM: After the fact, it would be simple for either of us to readjust
>>> the rules of the game, as it were, so that we get off free. If the
>>> Bayesian regret heuristic is going to solve anything, it must have
>>> power, and it doesn't have power if we can just step around the
>>> result no matter what it might be.
>> dlw: It's one of those fuzzy things that can be persuasive without
>> being defnitive in my book.  My views on election reform have been
>> changed from my debates with Dale Sheldon Hess and also Broken
>> Ladder/Clay Shentrup).  I'm more open to other election rules than
>> IRV in the long run because of their work.  But as you know, in the
>> long run, we're all dead...
>>  KM:I suppose, then, that what I'm really saying is this: you discard
>>> theoretical points by saying theory isn't practice,
>> dlw: I don't discard or disregard theoretical points, I express
>> diffidence towards theoretical points, based on an ethos that's
>> somewhere between a "critical realism" and "instrumentalism" that I
>> learned in my studies of institutional economics.
> They seem rather tuned to let you get off with your points. Robust
> center-squeeze weirdness in Yee diagrams (that hold up even when the center
> shifts) doesn't matter to you, for instance. GIGO working in favor of
> Condorcet? You don't comment on it, but you do when you think it works
> against Condorcet and in favor of IRV.

dlw:It lets me trust (and maybe adjust) my priors in the face of very
sophisticated arguments whose links to reality are not easy to discern.
 One can concoct args that can go either way and at the end of the day, I
still think trying to determine the best single-winner election rule is
small potatoes relative to the need for experimenting with the right mix of
single and multi-winner (and hybrids thereof).

> And let's look at the GIGO thing further. You say "I think that voters
> will be noisy below the first ranks or just plain truncate". If I had said
> that, and said "so Condorcet is better", you would say that I don't have
> any data by which to back that up and so it's only theory. Yet you make
> that claim against Condorcet: "I think voters are noisy". Micronumerosity
> goes both ways, but you seem to press it a lot more when it's in your favor
> to do so.

dlw: It's logically true that if you give more weight to the higher ranked
votes in determining the winner that you are less impacted by noise when
the incidence of noise is higher in lower ranked votes.  I don't need data
for that it's common sense.

>  KM: that you're middle-brow so it doesn't matter anyway,
>> dlw: Since as a middle-brow, I believe theory is essentially a crutch
>> for coping with a complicated, messy reality, not a precision laser
>> for pinpointing the right election rule.
> As I said earlier, your brow level doesn't affect reality. I have also
> given real world examples above.

It affects my attitude towards the concepts we use to discern about
reality.  I have commented on your real world examples above.  I still
think Pirv-Poth>>Xoth-Xirv in the short run in the US.

>  KM: and even *if* they showed the other rules are better, they don't
>> show the other rules are *that much* better. You discard what little
>> practical (experimental) data we have by saying that it's
>> inapplicable (AU) or that the conclusion was just because of
>> interference from scheming Plurality advocates (Burlington).
>> dlw: Micronumerosity sucks.  As also does the problem of historical
>> specificity.  That these problems are relevant to the matter at hand
>> is not a matter of opinion, in my opinion.
> However, I don't think you've been entirely fair here. You use a model of
> your own devising (what I've called the "DLW ecology") based on a few
> examples that are close to what you envision yet not quite there (Illinois,
> Wisconsin, neither of which use IRV) to state that more numerous examples
> either do not apply (Australia) or aren't in line with what you want anyway
> (examples of true multipartyism, top-two runoffs, etc).

I'm employing critical realism to state why I think 3-5 seat (quasi) PR in
"more local" elections and IRV in "less local" elections (+ FairVote's NPV
for the presidency) is a winning platform for electoral reform in the USA.
My arg hinges on the need to choose election reforms that do not challenge
the US's tendency to have a two-party dominated system. I put most of my
money on pushing for American forms of PR, because my understanding of the
US's mucked up system is that the worst part of it is due to its tendency
to tilt to effective single-party rule and the resultant cut-throat
competition between the two major parties and because it's not hard for me
to imagine us having two rather different major parties whose duopoly
status is contested by minor parties and who are held accountable against
the influence of $peech by a host of small local third parties.

The effect of 3-seat quasi-PR in state legislatures has been demonstrated
in my country's history.  We already have third parties behaving like LTPs
or coalitions of LTPs.

As for IRV, I'm saying the above is so important and the tendency towards
having two major parties is so strong right now in the US that we can
afford to let go of trying to improve upon IRV beyond IRV3/AV3.  We can
make sure we have a more unified front to prevent further Burlington-like
reversals.  We can recognize that even if a multi-party system were better
than a souped up two-party system, not far from how I envision it, it's not
that much better and the latter is far more likely to be the next stage of
the evolution of the US's democracy.

So why not call a truce and trust that it'll be a lot easier to explore
other election rules once IRV3/AV3 has replaced FPTP in most single-winner

> You do not say anything about what the voters really want, and you omit
> examples of multiparty rule in the US without IRV (locally, New York under
> STV) but press historical specificity when you'd otherwise have to weaken
> your position (multiparty rule in Europe and NZ).

dlw: You're making it sound like the crux of my position is IRV and that
I'm a contortionist, fitting the evidence to my priors.  This is not the
case.  It doesn't mean a hill of beans that there are multi-parties in NY
under STV.  The fact is that third  parties are weak in the US.  They are
not our movers and shakers and so electoral reforms that cater to their
wishes are not in order.   So long as we improve the balance between
single-winner and multi-winner elections, their situation will be improved
upon.  And hopefully a significant change in which two major parties
dominate will make it so fewer people are severely alienated by them.

KM: Then, after you've sanitized the field of samples that could count
> against your position, you state that there aren't enough instances of real
> world data to get you to change your mind.

dlw: There aren't enough real world examples of the use of other
single-winner alternatives to IRV in important political elections to
justify the replacement of IRV with them as the status quo rule for
electoral reformers.  We gotta keep it simple.  Consider how little headway
the advocates of Score/Approval Voting have made among "normal people",
despite the amount of brain power put into their critique of IRV and
advocacy for AV/SV?  It's hard spade work to market election reform.  If we
were to try and start over again doing what FairVote has been doing over
quite a while, leaving aside how we'd settle which single single-winner
election rule we would push for, it would set election reform in the USA
back for too long.  I think it's much easier to see what we can learn from
Burlington to prevent similar reversals.

> Sure, you can always say there aren't enough examples if you raise the bar
> high enough, and you have a different bar for what's scarce when it's your
> data (Illinois) than when it's ours (Burlington). You can do these things,
> play with standards and levels of proof unequally. I can't stop you -- but
> playing like that isn't exactly conducive to agreement.

It's also a matter of logic wrt IL's example that it resulted in divided
gov't and a higher chance that the control of the state assembly would pass
between control of the two biggest parties.  This possibility forces
$peech-purveyors to hedge, which further evens the playing field in other
elections.  As such, I don't need a big dataset to verify it.  The result's
were strong enough in the relevant dimensions that the power was big even
with a small sample.

It's a lot harder to compare between single-winner elections, because the
different results are less pronounced most of the time and often not
consequential, like with Anderson beating Carter for 2nd place in the 1980
presidential election.

> As for historical specificity, you could argue this way if different
> societies used different electoral methods, and consistently so. If Europe
> overwhelmingly used PR (without DLW ecology type counterbalancing) while
> Asia overwhelmingly used SNTV while America overwhelmingly used parallel
> voting, you'd have a point. However, let's take a (by no means exhaustive)
> list of nations and territories using proportional representation for their
> legislative bodies:

> Algeria, Aruba, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cape Verde,
> Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala,
> Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Iraq, Israel, Lesotho, Mozambique, New Caledonia,
> New Zealand, Niger, Paraguay, Peru, Rwanda, Saint Martin, São Tomé and
> Príncipe, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Turkey, and Uruguay.
> To argue for historical specificity, i.e. that "the US is different", it
> seems to me that you'd have to argue that the United States is different in
> some way that affects the best choice of electoral method, and that it is
> on one side of a partition (call it the "needs managed PR" side)where all
> the places above are on the other side ("plain PR / multipartyism works"
> side). What history does Saint Martin have in common with Israel? Are you
> saying Cyprus is historically more similar to Sri Lanka than the United
> States is to New Zealand?

They didn't have a strong presidency elected regularly at the national
level that reinforced their two-party dominant system?

> The dividing line that places all the PR nations on one side and the US on
> the other seems... arbitrary, almost like it's fitted in advance to make
> the conclusion you want to have.

Ah yes, the concept of American exceptionalism has no currency
whatsoever....   The writers of the US constitution trusted George
Washington so much they gave the presidency a lot of powers.  This was an
exceptional circumstance(as was his declining not to become our dictator).
 This is why historically progress in the US has been associated with the
election of progressive presidents.  What I'm saying is that's dated, but
not irrelevant  Why not see our current strong US presidency as why we need
to focus on the use of American forms of PR in "more local" elections that
are rarely competitive in ways that keep the constituent-legislator
relationship that George Washington thought was important and mitigate the
cut-throat competition between parties that George Washington also feared?

>  KM: At that point, very little remains. Thus I ask: what would it
>>> take to change your mind? What demonstration, what experiment would
>>> give you the data needed? What sort of argument would meet your
>>> "middle-brow, true test of IRV" standards? If your answer is
>>> "nothing", then we're done and this is just text on a screen.
>> dlw: Push for multi-winner elections in the US.  Trust that third
>> parties will enable an expansion of electoral experimentation,
>> facilitated by smart electoral analysts like the many people on this
>> list, to break the impasse. Recognize that in lieu of convincing
>> empirical data over the Xs of electoral alternatives, it's logical to
>> focus more on the Ps in the short run and strategically support IRV,
>> or decline to strongly critique IRV, as a clear improvement over FPTP
>> for the US's two-party dominated system that can be marketed to the
>> US public.
> That isn't a standard for an argument or experiment. That's *your
> strategy*, what you want in the first place! I'd ask again "What would make
> you rate IRV lower than you do?", but I think you've answered so before
> (case studies). I've replied to that above, and I hope you have a response
> to it. I do think that provides "convincing empirical data over the Xs of
> electoral alternatives", or close enough that inference can get us the rest
> of the way.

Well, I think that given the resilience of the US's two party dominated
system in the short run that my answers make sense...  But you are right
that my arg is not founded on an electoral analytic argument.  It is
founded on my perception that if we gave a constructive role for third
parties that it could make our two-party dominated system function a lot
better(especially for minorities) and that such a less-is-more approach is
more fit for adoption in the US in the near future.
My args about the Ps and Xs of IRV relative to other single-winner election
rules have been ancillary to this reality-based argument.

I hope that is good enough for you for now.

WRT Jameson's arg:
KM: Yes. P_irv is currently greater than P_other. That is too bad. I think
P_irv is actually more like an economic bubble, because of the unappetizing
properties of P_irv. If we do nothing, then P_irv will at some point burst.
(That's what Jameson's wager is about).

JQ: My wager was that if there are more than 20 reforms in place in the US
10 years from now, over half of them will be non-IRV. Like any broad,
long-term wager, I'd be happy to win however; but actually, I didn't really
propose the wager because I think IRV will be implemented and repealed, or
even because I think that IRV will stop getting new implementations.
Rather, I think that it's entirely possible in 10 years for a new reform
proposal to outgrow IRV. I'm guessing that IRV is AltaVista or MySpace, and
that the Google or Facebook of voting reform is yet to get off the ground.

dlw: My hope was to win some of you all into becoming supporters of
IRV3/AV3 as that replacement so we can all put our oomph into supporting
FairVote's push for American forms of PR.  I think IRV3/AV3 could be
pitched by FairVote as essentially just like their standard IRV, with a
short-cut to simplify the explanation and to reduce the time it takes to
count the vote.  I would love to get others to join me in pushing for
FairVote to make this "less is more" adaptation.

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