[EM] IRV debate to RBJ and Mike O

David L Wetzell wetzelld at gmail.com
Sat Jan 21 12:39:46 PST 2012

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: robert bristow-johnson <rbj at audioimagination.com>
> To: election-methods at lists.electorama.com
> Cc:
> Date: Fri, 20 Jan 2012 17:16:50 -0500
> Subject: Re: [EM] Brief Comment on IRV debate
> sorry, guys, i don't have time to write much now (but i will try to
> tonight).  but similar to the repeal vote in 2010, and similar to the
> two-party system, i feel that the choice you're offering (SODA vs. IRV3) is
> a choice between Dumb and Dumber.  we need a decent ranked ballot so that
> we are not forced into that choice (and i thought your automobile brand
> analogy was nice Jameson).

dlw: I agree with JQ's approach of realism that presumes that LNH or the
Weak Cournot Winner problem matters because it is important to take into
account the fears of incumbents when pushing electoral reform.

As for your dumb and dumber characterization, this gets at my arg that
lowering the Pirv doesn't raise the Poth because there is no unity over
which election rule would take the place of IRV3 as the de facto leader by
virtue of its P if not it's X.

> actually, i'm working (volunteer) in the mayoral race right now (for the
> Dem).  the Progs haven't yet nominated a candidate and, when we thought
> they might (Dec 13), they put it off until the day after tomorrow.  but a
> 3rd candidate has emerged (Wanda Hines, go to the burlington free press and
> look her up) who will appeal to the Prog base more than either the Dem or
> GOP.  so, for the very first election after IRV is repealed, we may have a
> good test case, post-IRV.  we may very well get a Mayor 41% and if we do,
> i'm gonna take that fact and bonk it over the heads of some DINOs that were
> opposed to IRV and also against the majority rule question we slipped in a
> year later.

dlw:I'm glad for your hands-on involvement.  I think the Republican primary
is doing a great job of showing that the wages of FPTP is to play bloody
the leader for a bloody long time and that Citizen United is undercutting
the intra-party discipline needed to trim the length of such bloody
dysfunctional primaries.

This gives me hope that the center-right party will be amenable to CFR and
some election reform in the near future...

> From: MIKE OSSIPOFF <nkklrp at hotmail.com>
> To: <election-methods at electorama.com>
> Cc:
> Date: Sat, 21 Jan 2012 03:12:09 +0000
> Subject: [EM] Dave, Jameson: IRV
>  Dave:
> *Any proposal **for federal elections would be thoroughly scrutinized and
> examined. Do you **think that Burlington's demonstration of IRV's spoiler
> ** problem won't be found by those studying IRV's merit? *
> * * dlw: You gotta find new material.
> [endquote]
> MO:Most likely dlw doesn't know what he means by that either. Comedians
> and other
> showmen must use original material.

dlw: My arg that there's a healthy party-dynamism triggered by the
potential of IRV variants to spoil in a three-way competitive election is
original material.  You're the one repeating the mantra that Burlington
sinks IRV once and for all....

> MO:Regrettably, IRV's spoiler problem is still there,
> just like it was during the previoius many years when we tried to warn
> about it.
> It's old material. But it's currently a problem, as Burlington showed. So
> maybe the new material
> that's needed is a new voting system, instead of the old-material failure
> known as IRV.

dlw: Like I said... or as George Gershwin wrote, "It ain't necessarily

> Dave says:
> It's called the problem of micronumerosity.
> MO:Nonsense. That isn't a descriptive name. No doubt anything is called by
> different names by
> different people. The problem referred to is best known, well known, as
> the spoiler problem, which is also an incomparably better descriptive (if
> less pretentious) term. Maybe IRV's spoiler problem is called "the problem
> of micronumerosity" by the same people (or person?) who use your other
> pretentiously pseudoscientific language.

dlw:  Micronumerosity is not nonsense.  it may be better known as the "Law
of Small Numbers<https://www.google.com/search?aq=f&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=%22the+law+of+small+numbers%22>",
which says people come to decisions based on too small of a sample.  The
"negative" effects of the possibility of a non-CW winner in an IRV-ish
election can and should be observed on the basis of many elections,not

> The use of "micronumerosity" reveals an ignorance of word-origin: The
> first part of it is Greek, and the last part of it is Latin.

Like there was never any historic influence between the Greeks and Rome?
 They both were affected by the cultural imports of
his travels abroad.   And the word is not my own...

> Dave says:
> Burlington VT is not the smoking gun. It's evidence that if we get
> perfectionistic

> MO: Only an IRV-promoter thinks that it's "perfectionistic" to reject one
> of the two or three worst
> methods, a method whose improvement over Plurality debatable, and
> miniscule at best.

dlw: if FPP had been used in 2009 then clearly in Burlington there'd have
been a much worse outcome from the point of view of the majority of
voters... unless of course you're presuming strategic voting on behalf of
dissenters from the two existing major parties to elect the CW.  If that
were so then yes we'd get the CW elected, but there'd be no real dynamics
towards moving the center from its de facto position to its true position.

That is hardly miniscule!!!  Get your head out of your pseudo-experimental
analytics for a little while... It is complete bs to say that IRV is worse
than picking candidates at random.

> MO:The elegantly simple Approval is incomparably better than IRV, as
> judged by the properties
> valued by most at EM, and most who look at voting systems. Preferring the
> much simpler Approval, to IRV, isn't perfectionism.

dlw: But is EM the true standard for real life or is it biased by virtue of
how its members are oft removed from the world of real life activism?

> Dave says:
> ...so the anti-reform types can play divide and conquer agianst us
> Conspiracy theory paranoia. Anti-reform types didn't "divide" the rest of
> us from IRV. IRV's ridiculous inadequacy accomplished that.

dlw: What's ridiculous is your insistence that IRV is ridiculously
inadequate in "real life", when the relatively rare occurence of
competitive three way elections so clearly proves that to be false...

I don't need a conspiracy to argue that well-meaning folks who rank other
election rules above IRV variants are strategically coopting args developed
by the defenders of the status quo to build up my case of us joining ranks
to at least strategically push for (or not to attack) IRV in the immediate
future so as to increase the chances of further electoral reforms in the

> Dave says:
> ...that they can barely repeal IRV before it gets traction.
> [endquote]
> As I said before, IRV never had "traction". What it has had is an
> expensive push
> provided by someone with a lot of money.

dlw:Yes, it is hard to get electoral reform in the US.   This makes
perfectionism counter-productive and it is why we should give those able to
get reforms the benefit of the doubt, especially when the vote against IRV
was won by its detractors by such a small margin....

> Dave says:
> Like I wrote, the only way a non-CW can win w.,
> [endquote]
> Wrong. Ever heard of the squeeze-effect? All it takes is for favoriteness
> to taper gradually
> away from a middle CW, and s/hell lose to flanking candidates receiving
> transfers cascading
> in from the sides.

dlw: In that case, the two major parties are not centered around the
center, are they?   So I am not wrong...

> MO:Quite aside from that, with 3 candidates, there is one chance 3 that
> the middle
> candidate will be the smallest of the 3. And for hir to be CW requires
> only that
> neither of the extreme two has a majority.

dlw: And, the conjunction of those two requirements make the non-election
of a CW, given the unlikely situation of a 3-way competitive election, not
terribly likely....    So |Xirv-Xoth| is still small relative to Pirv-Poth.

> MO: Dave is saying that IRV's spoiler problem can be avoided if the two
> biggest candidates
> insincerely change their positions to the median, CW, position.  But doing
> so would violate their promises to the people and corporations that
> gave them their money. They can't just
> change their positions that much.

dlw: All's fair in Love and Politics.   If we don't adapt, we die.

> MO: Aside from that, and maybe this wouldn't occur to Dave, but maybe it
> would be nice if some candidates espoused positions reflecting their own
> frank, honest and sincere beliefs and opinions--rather than insincerely
> "moving" to a position calculated to be more electorally
> successful.

dlw: It would be nice, but politics is the art of the possible and given
the need to have some single-winner elections, it's better that the
positions espoused by the serious candidates tend to reflect the views of
most people.  One can bring about new ideas and a plurality of viewpoiints
via the use of multi-winner/PR rules in other elections.

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