[EM] In political elections C (in terms of serious candidates w. an a priori strong chance of election) will never get large!

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Mon Jun 3 00:28:13 PDT 2013

On 05/29/2013 08:06 PM, David L Wetzell wrote:

> My apologies.   I'm not always good w. names.

I had a really long reply queued up here, but now that I've got a few 
days to think since RL business has not been quite as hectic, I think 
there's one thing we need to establish before we continue discussion.

The one thing that I felt was most of a discussion-stopper the last time 
we talked was how you'd reply to almost all evidence I gave you by "oh, 
but it's different in the United States". So, therefore, before I start 
spending lots of time on making counter-arguments and backing them up, I 
think I'll have to know: what kind of evidence will you accept? That 
way, my work won't be in vain.

Can you accept US polls done with advanced methods? Can you accept 
results from organizations using advanced methods? Can you accept 
multipartyism in the past in areas of the US as strengthening the 
argument that multipartyism can happen in the present? Can you accept 
results from areas with runoff, again suggesting greater diversity? Can 
you accept results from other presidential FPTP nations suggesting the 
extreme expense of US elections is an anomaly?

And finally, can you accept results from the other IRV-using nations? 
There are not many of them, so it's very easy to "this place is 
different" them away. To me, the repeated use of that response just 
feels rude: like you've constructed a self-consistent system that 
explains little but is impervious to counters, wherever they may come from.

In short, what will it take to change your mind?

(What would it take to change mine? Some evidence that the US really is 
that special, perhaps. But it's hard to see how one could show that. So, 
of course, if you think I'm pulling the same rude trick, you can also 
say that and stop the thread there.)

There is one thing I *can* reply to, however.

>> I could also then point at other nations, either other
>> presidential  countries making use of runoff (to strengthen the
>> first claim), or other presidential countries in general, even
>> thoseunder Plurality (to
>> strengthen the second), and say that the expense of presidential
>> elections in the US is pretty much unequaled elsewhere in the world.
>> That is, I think it is, but I'm not going to investigate in detail
>> unless I know you won't pull the "it's different in the US than in every
>> one of those other countries" response.
> dlw: I'm not sure I'm tracking which are your two different claims.

Claim 1: Plurality leads to really expensive campaigns.
Claim 2: Plurality + US political dynamics lead to really expensive 

> As you know, I believe runoff elections are not pure single-winner
> elections, since the first stage is a multi-winner election. And so some
> of our diffs come from a different taxonomy for election rules.

Why does that matter? If runoffs can be used to elect single 
candidates[1], and the method produces diversity, what does it matter 
whether it's a "multi-winner" or a "single-winner" method? It does what 
we want -- or it's better at it than IRV, anyway.

If I'm looking for a flier, I shouldn't care whether it flaps its wings 
like a bird or has fixed wings like a plane. If it's a good flier for 
the conditions I need, that's enough.

And if it is indeed better than IRV, which I think I can show if the 
evidence isn't "it's different"-ed away, then FairVote is doing a great 
disservice when it's pushing to replace runoff with IRV. If the 
organization was primarily pushing to replace Plurality with IRV, then 
you *could* reason that "well, at least 2.5-party rule is better than 
2-party rule"[2]. But if IRV is being touted as "Instant" "Runoff" to 
replace delayed runoff, and this leads to a reduction in the diversity, 
then it's a loss that pushes the country *towards* Duvergerian outcomes, 
not away from it. Abd has more data about this, if you're interested.

If your contention is that runoff's performance can't be generalized to 
advanced methods, fine enough. Let's consider whether there's any way to 
find out if that claim is true... and in the meantime, let's not replace 
runoffs with IRV.


[1] I.e. it can be used to elect presidents, governors, etc., as opposed 
to being a PR method that elects a bunch of members of parliament (etc.) 
all at once.

[2] Or, more precisely "well, at least 'slight departure from 
Duvergerian oligopoly' is better than being stuck at Duvergerian 
oligopoly'". 2.5-party rule and 2-party rule are just short ways of 
saying the same, since while it does not need to correspond to only 
having two parties, that's how it usually goes. I imagine you could have 
diversity with physical 2-party rule, but you'd need a whole lot more 
oversight to keep the two parties from conspiring or becoming corrupt. 
Kind of like how you might be able to have a planned economy that 
produces good results, but you'd need heavier checks and balances to 
keep the SoEs from colluding or becoming corrupt than if you just had a 
bunch of competitive companies doing the same.

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