[EM] Brief comment about IRV discussion

Jameson Quinn jameson.quinn at gmail.com
Fri Jan 20 11:49:32 PST 2012

It's obvious that Burlington was a serious failure for IRV. It did not live
up to the advantages promoters had claimed for it.

However, I have heard IRV supporters claim that Burlington was not a total
failure, because the results were better than plurality, assuming that same
set of (presumably mostly honest) ballots. I've also heard them claim that
Approval would have gotten the same results as plurality, due to (my words)
the Chicken dilemma. I disagree with both of these ideas, but I can't
trivially refute them.

That said, I agree that it's hard to imagine voters going for IRV
nationally after Burlington. Even the arguments above amount to "it wasn't
TOO bad", which is not exactly inspiring.

Honestly, this is part of why I keep pushing SODA. I think that incumbents
are used to balancing the dynamic tension of playing to their base or
playing to the center. I think that a system which radically upsets that
balance in favor of centrists is very scary to them, as well as to partisan
activists. I think that Condorcet actually does upset the balance in this
way; and that  Range and Approval arguably do, at least enough to wake
those fears. I think that this fear has various facets; it's the real
"meat" behind the LNH argument, and I've also talked about it as the "weak
CW problem". It's perfectly reasonable not to want a dark-horse CW to win
if they couldn't in fact survive the scrutiny of a runoff; and even if it
weren't reasonable, any incumbent would hate having to worry about that

Anyway, that whole argument leaves just IRV, MJ, and SODA as viable. IRV, I
agree, is a dead end, with numerous serious problems. So the question for
me is, is MJ or SODA more likely to pass in the US? Right now, I believe
that the answer is SODA, but I'm not really sure.

(Again, I will strongly support Approval, Range, or Condorcet. I'm not
saying this argument makes them bad. I'm saying it makes them less viable
because incumbents and partisans, probably the two most-politically-active
groups there are, would both be very wary of them for these reasons.)


2012/1/20 MIKE OSSIPOFF <nkklrp at hotmail.com>

>  The discussion about IRV referred to something like P(IRV) and P(other),
> where those presumably represent the probability of
> success of IRV vs that of other methods.
> Burlington should show you that the probability of IRV ever making it to
> federal use is zero. I mean, can you be serious? 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?
> Over the decades, when confronted with IRV's spoiler problem, the IRV
> promoters always insisted that it's just "theoretical".
> But now it can no longer be said to be only theoretical, because it has
> happened. In fact, most likely, if complete results were
> always available from IRV elections, the spoiler problem would be found to
> happen in other instances as well.
> (We should be contacting IRV opposition in the cities using it or
> considering it, to suggest that they insist that complete
> election results be divulged after IRV elections. Maybe letters to the
> editor to papers in those cities too.)
> Though I've heard some IRV-promoter rhetoric about it, I haven't heard an
> IRV-promoter's explanation for how that "theoretical"
> problem actually happened, and an explanation for how he can still claim
> that IRV's spoiler problem is only theoretical.
> David was using "x" to mean "merit" or something like that, when he spoke
> of x(IRV). Regarding IRV's merit, see above.
> Mike Ossipoff
> ----
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