September 15, 2004

Three Days of the Condorcet

Dave Weigel quotes me commenting on a Naderite's absurd suggestion that Ralph Nader would have won using the Condorcet method, in which voters rank their preferrences and the winner is the candidate who wins the majority of head-to-head match-ups. I concluded when Dave and I were chatting about this on IM yesterday that the Naderite must think that Bush voters would have preferred Nader to Gore, but upon reflection I realize that the other possibility would be that all Gore voters would pick Nader as a first choice-- -- and it would have to be all, or at least very close to all (unless there were enough Bush>Nader>Gore voters to make up the difference). Of course, the reality is that not only would most of Gore's constituents have chosen him as their first choice, but a large percentage would have picked Bush, not Nader, as their second choice. (I'm ignoring, for this exercise, the other minor-party candidates; including them would probably be even worse for Nader.)

There's no voting system I can think of in which Nader could become head of government, though in a proportional representation system where Nader was the Green Party leader he might get enough votes to land him a seat in parliament; this is how Green parties operate in Europe, as part of coalitions of the left. Of course, Bernie Sanders already does just that within the American system, but the Sanders route requires a modicum of prudence that Nader's megalomania seems to preclude.

Posted by John Tabin at September 15, 2004 11:50 PM

did u know bernie sanders was in my class at the u of c. he used to like to tell lurid stories to the best of my recollection.


Posted by: lee tabin at September 16, 2004 12:51 AM

When I saw that "c"-word, it looked familiar... Wikipedia may have been where I saw it, when I was reading entries about voting methods and politics.

It would be nice if there existed more runoff-type systems in elections... That would help independent and third-party candidates; they would be able to run for office and garner support, without fear of doom due to the "spoiler effect," something that has likely killed many of what would otherwise have been semi-succesful bids by principled candidates.

It sucks when so many people feel that they have to resort to strategic voting to resolve this problem... It would be nice if conservatives, liberals, and libertarians had candidates that they could enthusiastically vote for and support, rather than feeling that they have to pick the "lesser of the two evils."

Posted by: Aakash at September 28, 2004 02:48 AM