Michael Ossipoff | 1 Jun 05:38 2012
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Another reason why Greens won't vote Dem, due to previous count results.

As I was saying in a recent previous post about this, Approval's count
results will tell Green-preferrers whether or not they need Dem to protect
against Repub.

And I gave a reason why that is: Preferrers of the middle of 3 parties have
no reason to approve either extreme. I told of a reason why that is.

Now I'd like to tell of another:

On EM, it's been shown by at least three people, in at least two ways, that
the expectation-maximizing strategy of Approval is to approve the
above-expectation candidates.

It's obvious why that's so: Your expectation is the sum, over all of the
candidates, of the product of a candidate's win-probability and hir utility.
It's obvious that when you increase the win-probability of a candidate who
is better than your expectation (you do that when you approve hir), that
will raise your expectation. 

Well, suppose you're a Democrat-preferrer (if there really are any). Say
it's Green, Dem, Repub. If it's certain that some particular candidate will
win, then your expectation is the utility of that candidate. Otherwise your
expectation is somewhere between the utility of the Green and the Dem, or
somewhere between the utility of the Repub and the Dem.

Say it's somewhere between the Green and the Dem. As I said above, your best
expectation-maximizing strategy is to approve  (only) all of the
above-expectation candidates. By assumption, the Green is farther from you
than is the point representing the utility equal to your expectation. So you
don't approve the Green.
(Continue reading)

Juho Laatu | 2 Jun 00:02 2012
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Re: Another reason why Greens won't vote Dem, due to previous count results.

On 1.6.2012, at 6.38, Michael Ossipoff wrote:

> As I was saying in a recent previous post about this, Approval's count
> results will tell Green-preferrers whether or not they need Dem to protect
> against Repub.

Is that a general claim that after seeing Approval polls, it is always easy for Approval voters (Greens and
others) to decide how to vote?

> 
> And I gave a reason why that is: Preferrers of the middle of 3 parties have
> no reason to approve either extreme. I told of a reason why that is.

Here you assume a special case where one of the candidates is a middle candidate (and there are max two
potential winners, and a one-dimensional political space).

> 
> Now I'd like to tell of another:
> 
> On EM, it's been shown by at least three people, in at least two ways, that
> the expectation-maximizing strategy of Approval is to approve the
> above-expectation candidates.
> 
> It's obvious why that's so: Your expectation is the sum, over all of the
> candidates, of the product of a candidate's win-probability and hir utility.
> It's obvious that when you increase the win-probability of a candidate who
> is better than your expectation (you do that when you approve hir), that
> will raise your expectation. 
> 
> Well, suppose you're a Democrat-preferrer (if there really are any). Say
(Continue reading)

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax | 2 Jun 05:43 2012

Re: Another reason why Greens won't vote Dem, due to previous count results.

At 10:38 PM 5/31/2012, Michael Ossipoff wrote:
>As I was saying in a recent previous post about this, Approval's count
>results will tell Green-preferrers whether or not they need Dem to protect
>against Repub.
>
>And I gave a reason why that is: Preferrers of the middle of 3 parties have
>no reason to approve either extreme. I told of a reason why that is.

Perhaps you did, but you are framing this as a general truth, when 
your arguments, here at least, seem to be based on a very particular 
assumption about the two major parties, not the general case at all, 
nor do I think that most readers of this list will agree with you.

Further, improved voting systems, of the kind that are most-discussed 
here, generally lead to increases in the number of candidates.

>Now I'd like to tell of another:
>
>On EM, it's been shown by at least three people, in at least two ways, that
>the expectation-maximizing strategy of Approval is to approve the
>above-expectation candidates.

I think that's so.

>It's obvious why that's so: Your expectation is the sum, over all of the
>candidates, of the product of a candidate's win-probability and hir utility.
>It's obvious that when you increase the win-probability of a candidate who
>is better than your expectation (you do that when you approve hir), that
>will raise your expectation.

(Continue reading)

Michael Ossipoff | 2 Jun 08:53 2012
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Re: Another reason why Greens won't vote Dem, due to previous count results.

Lomax quoted me:

> At 10:38 PM 5/31/2012, Michael Ossipoff wrote:
> >As I was saying in a recent previous post about this, Approval's count
> >results will tell Green-preferrers whether or not they need Dem to
> >protect against Repub.
> >
> >And I gave a reason why that is: Preferrers of the middle of 3 parties
> >have no reason to approve either extreme. I told of a reason why that is.
> 

...and replied:

> Perhaps you did, but you are framing this as a general truth, when your
> arguments, here at least, seem to be based on a very particular assumption
> about the two major parties

And what assumption would that be? It surely is not very particular if you
can't say what it is.

And I haven't made any assumption about  "the two major parties". You have.
You're convinced that the Republicans and Democrats will be the "two major
parties" even without Plurality. But that isn't really _your_ assumption, is
it. Your tv has told you that the Republicans and Democrats are "the two
choices". Let no one contradict Lomax's tv!
"His master's voice".

And no, I didn't frame the 3-party scenario as a general truth. In fact,
you might not have noticed it, but I spoke of additional parties, later in
the message to which you've just replied.
(Continue reading)

Michael Ossipoff | 2 Jun 10:42 2012
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Why does Approval go to the voter-median? Median-estimate strategy.

First, I've just noticed that, when I wrote my previous posting, I must have
accidentally written from someone else's account. There have been times when
I've noticed when logging on that I was in someone else's account, and I
logged out and started over. This time I apparently didn't notice, and so
the message seems to have posted under someone else's name.

I included 2 topics in the subject line of this message.

1. Why does Approval go to voter median?: I've said that Approval will
quickly home in on the voter-median and then stay there. I should say
something about why that is. On EM, some years ago, several people
demonstrated why that is so. The demonstration that I give below might very
well be similar to one of those. Myerson & Weber demonstrated it in a
different way. The demonstration in this posting is brief:

Suppose that people are voting strategically. That means they're using
better-than-expectation strategy, of which the various Approval strategies
are special cases and implementations.

Suppose, at least at first, that a voter's perception of his expectation in
the current election is the utility of the winner of the previous election.
That's a reasonable first guess about what to expect. 

Say the winner, W, of the 1st Approval election is some distance to the
right of the voter-median. 

Of course each voter will approve everyone who is closer to hir than W is. A
majority of the voters are to the left of W. That means that a candidate a
little to the left of W will get more approvals than W will, and will get
more than anyone who is to the right of W.
(Continue reading)

Michael Ossipoff | 2 Jun 11:03 2012
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Addendum to Lomax reply

I wrote this before I wrote my most recent posting, but it didn't post. So
I'm posting it again:

As I'd said in an earlier post, using the names A , Middle and B, instead of
Green, Dem and Repub:

If it looks as if Repub is bigger than Green, so that Repub voters don't
approve Dem, then Green voters will approve Dem. And if that isn't enough to
make Dem win, then Repub has a majority of the voters, and it doesn't make
any difference what anyone else does.

On the following day, when I discussed a similar situation, looking at
better-than-expectation strategy, I said that it won't work to say that the
Repub is very far away, and that will make the Dem approve the
Green--because Repub is virtually identical to Dem.

Saying that was an implied acknowledgement that, if Repub were sufficiently
distant, that could give Dem voters reason to vote for the Green, when using
expectation-maximizing strategy.

Then I said that Repub is _not_ distant from Dem.

So, Lomax's example doesn't show anything that I had denied or contradicted.

...except that, as I said above: 

If it looks as if Repub is bigger than Green, so that Repub voters don't
approve Dem, then Green voters will approve Dem. And if that isn't enough to
make Dem win, then Repub has a majority of the voters, and it doesn't make
any difference what anyone else does. That argument suggests that, with 3
(Continue reading)

Jameson Quinn | 2 Jun 14:32 2012
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Approval and Condorcet

There's been a lot of back-and-forth over which is better. As an Approval supporter myself, but one who doesn't agree with a lot of the pro-approval arguments that have been made, I'd like to state my own position – once. I won't respond in this thread because I hope the whole debate dies out soon.


Is it possible to support Approval over Condorcet? Condorcet over Approval?

Manifestly, yes. Further argument will not change these facts.

Is it logical to support Condorcet over Approval? Approval over Condorcet?

Again, yes to both.

  • Condorcet over Approval: 
    • Approval lacks a unique definition of "honest votes". But for some such definitions, which (however misguidedly) actual real-world voters spontaneously believe, honest Condorcet clearly does better (by any reasonable definition of "better")
    • Some voters truly do not like ambiguity of how to vote. This is an aesthetic preference and not subject to logical browb- I mean, argumentation.
    • Some voters do not like being strategically forced to elide the preference for their favorite over their second. Again, aesthetic preference, though it would furthermore have the consequence of more spoiled elections under approval insofar as voters eschewed rational strategy for this reason.
  • Approval over Condorcet:
    • There are voter models for Approval which lead to better satisfaction (BR) than ANY voter models for Condorcet.
    • Dishonest strategies can be rational under Condorcet, 
      • This can rationally lead to strategic results far worse than Approval.
      • If dishonest strategies are irrationally overused, it gets even worse.
      • Some voters have aesthetic objections to the dilemma of whether to vote rationally or honestly.
Given that reasonable people can take either side of this debate, what's the point of arguing?

It's only productive insofar as it helps us unite our activism. Since we're never going to agree 100%, that is very limited. Still, I think it's worth pointing out that approval is much, much simpler, and thus seems more likely to be implemented in the short term.

Is it possible to see either Approval or Condorcet as worse than plurality?

Possible? Again, manifestly yes.

Are those positions logically defensible?

With apologies to Bruce, I'd have to say no regarding approval; there is no defensible reason to prefer plurality over approval. Bruce argues that since only two candidates are viable under plurality, it never forces him to choose between supporting his favorite viable candidate over his second-favorite, or his second-favorite over one he dislikes. It is true that approval can be harder to vote in this way. However, by the same argument, dictatorship never forces you to make any difficult choices at all, and thus should be preferred to plurality. The fact is, plurality has "only 2 viable candidates" precisely because it's reduced your choices, and often (I'd argue usually) that's because it has implicitly eliminated the best choices before you even see them. 

Regarding Condorcet... well, I can't be as categorical. There's no logical reason to prefer plurality's results. (And no, Condorcet's strategy incentive is not strong enough to lead to real DH3 scenarios worse than plurality; because plurality can and frequently does lead to worst-two-are-viable scenarios anyway.) But I can't completely disparage the argument that Condorcet is too complex, even though I don't buy that argument.

Bonus factious argument: Is there an amoeba's worth of distance between Democrats and Republicans?

Yes, there is. The median prominent Democrat politician today (for any prominent set size, including measure 1) is to the right of Richard Nixon on many issues (I'd say more than half of them where it's possible to check), and there are several issues (I'd say important ones) on which the parties are indeed functionally indistinguishable. But it's just crazy to say that they're the same; in fact, objective measures of voting records show that the gap is wider now than any time in the last 100 years. You just can't debate that, there's many ways to prove it. US democracy is indeed very sick, but hyperbole discredits only the person who can't abandon it.

Again, I hope this argument dies soon, so I won't contribute any further to continuing it; but I wouldn't mind it if others who haven't already made their points ad nauseum would state their position once, as I have here.

Jameson
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Juho Laatu | 2 Jun 16:20 2012
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My summary of the recent discussion

As promised, here's a short summary of my findings in the recent lengthy email chain that discussed Approval, Condorecet and Plurality reform.

1) There was a proposal to replace the Plurality method with a compromise seeking single-winner method (e.g. Approval, Condorcet) in a two-party country. The reform would keep the single-member districts to elect representatives of the representative bodies. This proposal is unorthodox in the sense that it does not fall into the two traditional categories, two-party systems and proportional representation. The proposal is simple and therefore maybe an easy start. Time would tell how this kind of a "centrist representation oriented" system would change the dynamics of the political system.

2) Approval method and its strategies were once more discussed. My understanding is simply that Approval works quite fine as long as there are only one or two winnable candidates, but when there are three or more, the method pretty much fails since voters will have very hard time trying to find any reasonable way to vote. I made one case study of a problematic situation in http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2012-May/030437.html.

3) Mike Ossipoff presented a Condorcet strategy that is supposed to work in all Condorcet elections. The best description of the strategy that I got is: "if there are winnable unacceptable candidates and winnable acceptable candidates, find that winnable acceptable candidate that is most likely to win all the unacceptable candidates, and rank him alone at top". Terms "acceptable" and "unacceptable" refer simply to a larger than marginal preference gap between those candidate groups. In theory voters might be happy to bury their favourites if they have no chance to win in this election. And in theory not burying one's favourite might in some situations lead to a loop that would make the outcome worse from the voter's point of view. I analyzed this problem in one example case and concluded that in practical elections this strategy does not seem to pay off and therefore should not be followed. Further proposals of working Condorcet strategies that regular voters could implement and that are beneficial to them are welcome. As long as nobody presents such working strategies, sIncere strategy should be considered to be the best and recommended strategy for practical Condorcet elections. http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2012-May/030482.html

In the discussions I wanted to make a clear distinction between theoretical vulnerabilities and practical vulnerabilities. A theoretical vulnerability means that there exists a set of sincere votes that can be modified (by one strategist with access to all the votes) so that the winner will change to a candidate that the strategic voters prefer to the sincere winner. This concept is still very far from a practical vulnerability, that requires a clear description of a strategy that can be implemented successfully in typical real life elections by normal voters, based on incomplete and conflicting poll information, continuously changing opinions, with possible other competing strategies, and that is likely to improve the outcome, and not be too risky.

I also presented one additional strategy for Approval elections. That was just a sidetrack, but in case anyone is interested in how major parties could/should defend their strong position in Approval elections, here is a link. http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2012-May/030472.html

Juho




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Juho Laatu | 2 Jun 17:12 2012
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Re: Approval and Condorcet

On 2.6.2012, at 15.32, Jameson Quinn wrote:

There's been a lot of back-and-forth over which is better. As an Approval supporter myself, but one who doesn't agree with a lot of the pro-approval arguments that have been made, I'd like to state my own position – once. I won't respond in this thread because I hope the whole debate dies out soon.

Is it possible to support Approval over Condorcet? Condorcet over Approval?

Manifestly, yes. Further argument will not change these facts.

Is it logical to support Condorcet over Approval? Approval over Condorcet?

Again, yes to both.

  • Condorcet over Approval: 
    • Approval lacks a unique definition of "honest votes". But for some such definitions, which (however misguidedly) actual real-world voters spontaneously believe, honest Condorcet clearly does better (by any reasonable definition of "better")
    • Some voters truly do not like ambiguity of how to vote. This is an aesthetic preference and not subject to logical browb- I mean, argumentation.
    • Some voters do not like being strategically forced to elide the preference for their favorite over their second. Again, aesthetic preference, though it would furthermore have the consequence of more spoiled elections under approval insofar as voters eschewed rational strategy for this reason.
  • Approval over Condorcet:
    • There are voter models for Approval which lead to better satisfaction (BR) than ANY voter models for Condorcet.
    • Dishonest strategies can be rational under Condorcet, 
      • This can rationally lead to strategic results far worse than Approval.
      • If dishonest strategies are irrationally overused, it gets even worse.
      • Some voters have aesthetic objections to the dilemma of whether to vote rationally or honestly.
Given that reasonable people can take either side of this debate, what's the point of arguing?

It's only productive insofar as it helps us unite our activism. Since we're never going to agree 100%, that is very limited. Still, I think it's worth pointing out that approval is much, much simpler, and thus seems more likely to be implemented in the short term.

Is it possible to see either Approval or Condorcet as worse than plurality?

Possible? Again, manifestly yes.

Two possible approaches to answering yes:

1) It is possible to think that a two-party system is the ideal political system. It certainly has some well known benefits like e.g. very efficient and unified governments when compared to the other common approach, proportional representation. Also people that feel that the system does not work satisfactorily at the moment may seek reform within the framework of Plurality and two parties (e.g. changes only in the financing of the political parties).

2) Also people who want to have a reform that removes the limitations of Plurality and two parties may oppose this proposal because the whole system has been designed or has evolved around the idea of "alternating two-parties". Changing just one component to a different one with different nature, without replanning the whole system and all the components that this one change will impact, could make the dynamics of the political system worse, not better.

Juho




Are those positions logically defensible?

With apologies to Bruce, I'd have to say no regarding approval; there is no defensible reason to prefer plurality over approval. Bruce argues that since only two candidates are viable under plurality, it never forces him to choose between supporting his favorite viable candidate over his second-favorite, or his second-favorite over one he dislikes. It is true that approval can be harder to vote in this way. However, by the same argument, dictatorship never forces you to make any difficult choices at all, and thus should be preferred to plurality. The fact is, plurality has "only 2 viable candidates" precisely because it's reduced your choices, and often (I'd argue usually) that's because it has implicitly eliminated the best choices before you even see them. 

Regarding Condorcet... well, I can't be as categorical. There's no logical reason to prefer plurality's results. (And no, Condorcet's strategy incentive is not strong enough to lead to real DH3 scenarios worse than plurality; because plurality can and frequently does lead to worst-two-are-viable scenarios anyway.) But I can't completely disparage the argument that Condorcet is too complex, even though I don't buy that argument.

Bonus factious argument: Is there an amoeba's worth of distance between Democrats and Republicans?

Yes, there is. The median prominent Democrat politician today (for any prominent set size, including measure 1) is to the right of Richard Nixon on many issues (I'd say more than half of them where it's possible to check), and there are several issues (I'd say important ones) on which the parties are indeed functionally indistinguishable. But it's just crazy to say that they're the same; in fact, objective measures of voting records show that the gap is wider now than any time in the last 100 years. You just can't debate that, there's many ways to prove it. US democracy is indeed very sick, but hyperbole discredits only the person who can't abandon it.

Again, I hope this argument dies soon, so I won't contribute any further to continuing it; but I wouldn't mind it if others who haven't already made their points ad nauseum would state their position once, as I have here.

Jameson
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Jameson Quinn | 2 Jun 17:19 2012
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Re: My summary of the recent discussion


2) Approval method and its strategies were once more discussed. My understanding is simply that Approval works quite fine as long as there are only one or two winnable candidates, but when there are three or more, the method pretty much fails

Fails compared to what? At its worst, approval is still better than plurality; and depending on your voting model, it could be much better (for instance, honest probabilistic approval is range, with great BR). 

Jameson

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Gmane