[EM] Brief Comment on IRV debate

Jameson Quinn jameson.quinn at gmail.com
Fri Jan 20 13:59:43 PST 2012

> Like I wrote, the only way a non-CW can win w. IRV is if the two biggest
> parties do not center themselves around the center.  This possibility is
> what will goad them to recenter themselves more often.  That is what would
> have happened in Burlington if the anti-IRV campaign had not succeeded.

1. This sounds to me like: "Sorry about your house. And your neighbors'.
But actually, it's kind of good this happened. It will teach people in the
future to leave enough space between their houses for us to fire these test
missiles. And that way, they'll have room for bigger gardens." That is, a
disaster is excused as good because it will encourage actions that will
prevent later disasters and also have other benefits. To me, a disaster is
a disaster.

2. Exactly who is supposed to move the center? First you have D vs R. Then
the center moves left. D is quite happy with their permanent victories, so
they won't move left; and so R has no room to. Then discontented leftists
start P and pass R. The rational strategic response would be for D to move
so far right that it crushes R and makes it into the final round, so that D
and P are the new major parties. But center squeeze makes that hard; and
also human nature makes it hard to respond to a new interloper from your
left by moving right. It might also work R to move left, ignoring D, and
hope that when D and R really are clones then D will be circumstantially a
bit behind and so be eliminated first, so that R and P will be the new
major parties. But that means embracing a 50/50 gamble. It's almost
impossible for all of this to work itself out without at least one, and
probably more, spoiled elections; and then we're back to point 1 above.

But it's inane to think that a particular third party is going to be able
> to get as strong as the Prog party of VT in Burlington at the Nat'l level
> w.o. getting coopted by the major parties, jealous to keep their duopoly
> positions.  So the chances of this happening are nil in prez elections.

Watching the Republicans repeatedly shoot themselves in both feet, throwing
away what could have been a winnable election for them, doesn't give me
confidence that major US parties will always embrace rationality.

> The problem with IRV in such elections wd be vote-counting and that is
> fixed by IRV3/AV3....

Well... OK, I guess, although it's still only summable O(Nˆ3), which is
worse than any other polynomial-summable system I know of (except some
summable RRV-like pseudo-PR systems I've invented and never published).

>> 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
>> happening.
Note: "reasonable" in the above sentence means the opposite of selfish, not
the opposite of irrational.

>> 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.
> dlw: What about IRV3/AV3?  Like I said above, it's not easy for a third
> party to get as strong as VT Prog was in Burlington at the state or nat'l
> level... and the dynamics wd be towards a change in the nature of the two
> major parties more so than the continuation of a competitive 3-way
> election....

 IRV3/AV3 doesn't fix spoilers. And as I said above... (see args 1 and 2).

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