[EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process
fredgohlke at verizon.net
Thu Jul 12 13:51:33 PDT 2012
Good Afternoon, Don
I'm glad you're enjoying the discussion and decided to pitch in.
re: "I think you missed the point of the post."
You're right. I did miss the point of your post. I went back and read
it again and now have a clearer understanding. In addition, I agree
with your conclusion. If we change the electoral method as you
describe, one of the results will be to weaken the strongest parties and
may (I have to think more about this one) make the result more moderate.
[If you wonder why I have to think more about the result, please
consider this: If, in the days of the "Southern Democrats", a radical
third party had formed, I think it's effect would have moved the result
closer to an extreme. I've no wish to examine this possibility in
greater detail because I consider it a digression. I mention it merely
to suggest that the results of political change can be indeterminate.]
re: "If you note that the M (the non-partisans candidate) wins in
every one of my examples (with a different voting method)."
In your original post, you equated M to non-partisan/independent and
thereafter spoke of the M (or Moderate) candidate in a way that suggests
there is a party of moderates or independents.
I tend to think that those who join a party (even of moderates or
independents) are no longer non-partisan. Please don't consider this a
quibble, it's an important point.
In terms of party politics, I tend to think of non-partisans as people
who do not belong to (support?) a party. This raises an issue we may
need to resolve. As you'll see below, I, too, classify Independents as
non-partisans in a way which you may not approve. How important is this
re: "If you change the voting method parties will be weaker and
non-partisan candidates will be stronger."
May we change this to: "If you change the voting method the major
parties will be weaker and non-major party candidates will be
stronger."? If so, I agree.
re: "I don't believe that non-partisans are a majority of the
register votes, and even a smaller percent of the voters.
I agree that non-partisans are not a majority of the registered voters.
As to the percentage of non-partisans among the voters, I disagree.
I'm not an actuary or even a good researcher, but here's how I arrived
at my estimate. I started, not with the number of voters, but with the
number of potential voters:
From the U. S. Census:
Voting Age Population, 2010: 234,564,000
Percentage of voting age population casting votes for U. S.
Representatives in the last 6 elections (in 1,000s)
Age Cast for U. S.
Year Population Representatives
2000 209,787 98,800
2002 214,755 74,707
2004 219,553 113,192
2006 224,583 80,976
2008 229,945 122,586
2010 234,564 86,785
577,046 / 1,333,187 = .432832003312 = 43.3%
Using an average of 43.3% (which is higher than the actual report of 37%
for 2010) of the voting age population as the number of voters and 56.7%
as the number of non-voters, 132,997,788 people did not vote. We don't
know whether they failed to vote because they thought their vote
wouldn't matter or for some other reason, but we do know they did not
support any party's candidates and may properly be called non-partisan.
The percentage of partisans (32% Democrats and 24% Republicans) voting
in the 2010 election was taken from Pew Research:
These values leave 44% Independents, which is a bit higher than the
Gallup estimate of 38% you cited. I treated the Independents as
non-partisans because they supported neither of the major (viable)
parties. In addition to this, Pew estimates that 75% of the party
counts are registered party members and the other 25% are 'leaners".
Leaners are people who are not party members but vote with the party.
They are forced to lean toward one of the parties because they have no
Using Pew's values, about 24.4 million voters were registered Democrats
and 18.3 were registered Republicans. Since these two parties fielded
the only (viable) candidates, about 42.7 million people chose the only
candidates a nation of 234.5 million people could vote for. That is my
rationale for believing non-partisans greatly outnumber the partisans.
An electoral system that excludes over 80% of its people from the
process of selecting their elected representatives cannot be called a
With regard to the question of classifying Independents and
non-partisans, my usage here inflates the number of non-partisans in a
way that may not be proper. My problem is that I can't figure out how
to classify the 'leaners". I don't believe they have input into the
selection process and have no viable way of influencing their
government, except by voting for one of the choices controlled by the
re: "... without parties under a first-past-the-pole system (with
an L, M, and a C) the L or the C would win the election."
I'm not an advocate of the "first-past-the-pole system". I think we
need to conceive an entirely new way of selecting the people who
represent us in our government. I think the most fundamental failure in
our political system is that it denies the people the opportunity to
search among themselves for their best advocates.
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