[EM] Party-based top two with approval

Rob Lanphier robla at robla.net
Sun Mar 18 22:43:52 PDT 2018

Hi Kevin (and everyone)

Thanks for engaging on this topic.  I think I've become convinced that
an approval-based solution is workable.  I don't know if I can defend
the specific rules that I laid out, but I believe that a big,
multi-candidate (and multi-party) primary, and a top-two general is a
good combination. I think there's viable opportunity for reform within
those constraints.

I'll keep exploring the specific set of rules that I laid out in this
thread.  However, I'm not so sure that my specific rules are the best
reform.  My rules are a little too tough to explain.  More inline,

On Fri, Mar 9, 2018 at 4:47 AM, Kevin Venzke <stepjak at yahoo.fr> wrote:
> Just a quick idea on the last point: I can imagine a situation where there's
> a minor, established party called "Reform," and in some election an
> independent candidate decides he's going to label himself "Reform" because
> 1. the label isn't too much of a stretch, 2. he thinks he's strong enough to
> win within that list, and 3. he wants a boost from the "established" Reform
> voters. If the original Reform voters aren't OK with this, they don't have
> much recourse. They can change their name, but they can't protect the new
> name either. Whether it's "false flag" would be disputed.

That's a really interesting point.  That's more-or-less what happened
with the Reform party in the U.S.  In 1992 and 1996, it was
effectively the Perot party.  In 2000, Pat Buchanan won the Reform
party nomination, which wouldn't have been the first time he engaged
in subterfuge of parties opposed to Republicans[1]

[1]: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/watergate/stories/buchananmemo.htm

> But this is assuming there is no actual party with a role in the process.
> Below it sounds like you're saying there is still a Reform party who can
> decline to advance the candidate. So I can declare that I'm running as
> Reform, but it means that *if I win* on the list, the Reform party
> organization can opt to throw Reform's win away and let someone else have
> it. That's an interesting idea. The party still has control of the list, but
> only at the end, and always at the expense of forfeiting their "win."

One way that it could work: the *overall* approval vote winner is
automatically on the ballot (regardless of whether they the winning
party or not).  But then, the top vote getting party would have the
opportunity to put a candidate on the ballot if their voters made a
different choice.  Let me try tweaking my example.  Once again, 100
people voting.  I'll propose a tweak to my example ballot:

Your preferred party (mark only one)
[ ] Republican
[ ] Democratic
[ ] Libertarian
[ ] Green
[ ] Socialist
[ ] (no party preference)

Candidate(s) you approve of (mark multiple candidates if you desire):
[ ] Aaaaa (Republican)
[ ] Bbbbb (Republican)
[ ] Ccccc (Democrat)
[ ] Ddddd (Democrat)
[ ] Eeeee (Socialist)
[ ] Ffffff (Libertarian)

In both my original example, and the example below, I say something like:

Aaaaa  45 votes (by 30 Republicans and 5 Libertarians and 10 Democrats)

What that means is that for the "10 Democrats", this is their vote:
Your preferred party:
[X] Democratic

Candidate(s) you approve of:
[X] Aaaaa (Republican)
(and any other candidates this voter approves of)

I'll suggest a slightly different mix of voters:
Aaaaa  45 votes (by 30 Republicans and 5 Libertarians and 10 Democrats)
Bbbbb  20 votes (by 15 Republicans and 5 Libertarians)
Ccccc  60 votes (by 29 Democrats, 11 Republicans, 5 Socialist, 5
Green, 10 no party preference)
Ddddd  50 votes (by 29 Democrats, 10 Socialists, 10 Green, 1 no preference)
Eeeee  45 votes (by 10 Socialists, 30 Democrats, 5 Green)
Ffffff   30 votes (by 15 Libertarians, 15 Republicans)1

The party split:
25 Republican
30 Democratic
15 Libertarian
10 Green
10 Socialist
10 no party preference

As before, Ccccc would advance as the general winner.  In this example
(as with my initial example in my 2018-02-28 email), the Democrats
have the most votes, so they have the option of advancing their top
vote getter.  The difference, though, is that their top Democratic
vote getter isn't Ccccc:

Aaaaa 20
Bbbbb 0
Ccccc 29
Ddddd 29
Eeeee 30
Ffffff 0

The self-identified Democrats pick Eeeee.

Note that in this example, Ccccc has the highest overall approval.
However, Eeeee only has the highest approval among voters who voted
for the Democratic party.  Ddddd has higher overall approval than
Eeeee (50-45), but didn't earn the highest Democratic approval.
Moreover, Eeeee merely ties Aaaaa in overall approval.  However, the
Democratic party still secures a much higher share of the party vote
than the Republican party, and thus earns the right to advance their
preferred candidate (even though Eeeee is listed as "Socialist").
Thus the general election would be between Ccccc and Eeeee.

Voters who identify as Republicans would likely be furious about two
"Democrats" advancing (both Ccccc the declared Democrat, and Eeeee,
the Socialist nominated by the Democrats).  In fairness, though, Ccccc
(in this example) appears to be the centrist who did the best job of
running a bi-partisan campaign (where "bi-partisan" refers to
Democrats and Republicans, and ignores the others in proud American
tradition).  Our fictional Republicans in this example can instead
choose to be upset with the 11 "Republican" voters who cast their
approval of Ccccc.

I think this particular example ends well for Democrats.  However, I
don't think there is a way that Democrats (or Republicans, or a major
party) to reliably strategize to win both spots.

Note that I nearly changed this example to make it so that Ccccc and
Ddddd were the two candidates.  It's not hard to come up with an
example where the two declared Democrats advance in this system,
though only one candidate would be a party nominee.  Ironically (in my
Ccccc vs Eeeee example), Eeeee would be the Democratic nominee, and
would be the only candidate that the Democratic party could decide to
forfeit.  That would then allow the Republicans to advance their
nominee (Aaaaa).

I suspect that a much simpler version that doesn't involve parties at
all might be superior.  Kevin's earlier suggestion looks really
> 1. Round one is an approval ballot. Advance the approval winner, against the
> candidate with max AO against him. That is, remove the ballots approving the
> winner and advance, as challenger, whoever is the new approval winner. This
> doesn't require a first-round auto-win rule (but could support one too, I guess).

The thing I like about this first system Kevin proposes is that it
seems reasonably likely to satisfy this criteria: two candidates for
whom the largest proportion of voters approves of at least one of the
two candidates.  Kevin's system #1 has the benefit of simplicity.  A
potential downside of that system is that having a popular leading
candidate means that many fewer voters are involved in choosing the
runner up (e.g. if the top candidate gets 85% approval, then the
runner up is chosen by the 15% that didn't like the top candidate).

> I wonder if such a system would be "stable," as in, have general acceptance.
> A party in the position of wanting to forfeit their seats because of rogue
> candidates trying to piggyback, I can imagine would start to argue for a
> change in the rules. On the other hand if a seat is forfeited it's
> presumably lose-lose for the party, voters, and the candidate. So maybe it's
> a threat that would never actually happen.

An example of where the party could decide to forfeit could be a
situation similar to the one Republicans face in Illinois:

That particular example is one where the Republicans claim they want
to jettison the candidate, but don't have the means to do it.

One thing that I think makes my system resilient against a party
forfeiting a popular candidate is that the party could be held to
account in a subsequent election.  Forfeiting a popular candidate
would make it far less likely for the voters who voted for that party
to vote for that party again.


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