Thursday, February 7, 2019

If New York had voted according to pairwise-rated voting

Sar Shalom

Much has been made about how Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) is leading the Democratic Party solidly into the Palestinian camp and to the radical Left on many domestic issues. Since we here agree about the merits of AOC, or lack thereof, I would like to discuss how AOC's political fortunes would have been affected if New York had used pairwise-ranked voting instead of plurality voting. I have raised this topic on this blog before, however, AOC provides an opportunity to demonstrate concretely the effect of changing the voting system.

Under plurality voting, any party that fails to winnow its field to one candidate for the general election would be at a disadvantage against its competitor(s) that succeed in doing so and thus consolidate their voters around one candidate. Previously, that was achieved by a party convention in which party bigwigs would gather to select one candidate for the one election in which all citizens voted. Over the years, the country decided to democratize the process of deciding who represents each party in the election, introducing a preliminary stage to the election cycle which we know of as the primary election. Accordingly, before last November's general elections, the incumbent Joe Crowley had to run in a primary which this time was contested by AOC.

In a low turnout election, as primaries typically are, Crowley lost by 56.7% to 43.3%. Of particular note, 29,778 voted in that election, compared to 110,318 who voted Democrat in the general election, or less than 30% of those preferring a Democrat over a Republican. In the general election, 13.6% of voters opted for the Republican Anthony Pappas and another 1.2% for the Conservative Elizabeth Perri, with another 6.6% opting for Crowley on the Working Families line.

Thanks to plurality voting, all that mattered was that AOC received 78% of the votes, hence AOC is now in Congress. Now consider pairwise-rated voting in which the candidates run in a pairwise contest against all other candidates based on the ratings that all voters assign to all candidates. Under such a system, there would be no disadvantage to a party running multiple candidates against any other party, because relative ratings of the candidates would not be affected by the addition of new candidates. Thus, there could have been a single-stage election in which AOC, Crowley, Pappas, and Perri all would have run and received ratings from all of the voters. Now consider the results of the primary in which AOC won by 13.4% among the 30% of voters preferring a Democrat. Given the higher motivation of the wings to show up for primaries, it is likely that the over 70% of Democratic voters who did not show up for the primary are less left-wing than those who did. However, let's suppose that those voters have the same ideological composition as the cohort that did turn out for the primary, a worst case scenario for Crowley, the result would have been that AOC would have had a 13.4% advantage among the voters who prefer Democrats over Republicans. How many voters choosing either the Republican or Conservative nominee would have preferred AOC over Crowley? I don't think very many. Assuming they all prefer Crowley over AOC, that is a bloc of 14.8% of the electorate even ignoring the voters who ignored the will of the primary electorate, exceeding AOC's best case advantage among voters preferring Democrats. Thus, a majority of voters in New York's 14th District preferred Crowley over AOC. Pairwise-rated voting would have allowed those voters to indicate that preference and counted that preference, preventing AOC's election to Congress.


  1. Even if a different system of voting were
    implemented, the political Far-Left
    (which always hates Israel and gives
    unconditional love to Muslims)
    still has a near-monopoly on:

    [1] the entire educational system from
    kindergarten to college and graduate school

    [2[ the entire mainstream news-media:
    newspapers, magazines, web sites, textbooks

    [3] the entire European Union

    [4] the entire Hollywood entertainment industry

    [5] major high-technology companies:
    Google, YouTube, FaceBook, Twitter, Yahoo

    [6] numerous non-profit foundations
    and labor unions and store owners

    [7] many large liberal churches

    [8] a rapidly-growing percentage of
    the American Democratic Party.


    The Koran teaches that Jews are
    the biggest enemies of Muslims.

    The Koran’s 5th chapter, verse 82 says:

    “You will find that the people most
    hostile towards the believers [Muslims]
    are the Jews and the polytheists...”

    This quick and accurate and relevant quote
    from The Koran is NEVER MENTIONED
    in the Israel-bashing mainstream-news-media
    and it never will be, because
    it sends the wrong message:

    It tells the truth about Islam and Muslims.


    If you want the truth about Israel
    and the Middle East, then do not waste
    your time with the FAKE NEWS
    of The New York Times and the
    Israel-bashing mainstream-news-media.

    Instead, visit these web sites:


    Who are the Palestinians?

  2. (continued from previous comment)

    [9] many non-Orthodox synagogues and
    pseudo-“Jewish” organizations like:
    HIAS, ADL, J-Street, Shalom Achshav
    [Peace Now], B’Tzelem, "Jewish"
    Voice for Peace, and many more.

  3. (continued from previous comment)

    [10] Human Resources departments

    (this according to a video by Prager University)


  5. The Far Left hates Israel and it wants YOU to hate Israel too!
    Mr. Cohen is correct that the Far-Left has in its grip the educational system and Hollywood. They have probably never tasted power like this in this country and are just waiting for the host to collapse. Alexandria Occasional-Cortex, Venezuela Red, or whatever you want to call Ms. mega stupid sorority girl, is someone whom the establishment would have kept in the basement and out of sight in decades past like Boo Radley. Now they want to institutionalize her 5 minutes after she quit her bartending job, "AOC" up there with FDR, JFK, and LBJ, but with the intellectual heft and wisdom of a bucket of KFC. She's a Red. How long has the USSR been gone? And she and her cohorts are still pushing "anti-Zionism" like it's the 1950's. Now she's interwebz good buddies with Jeremy Corbin who is a grandmaster at Soviet style antisemitism.
    But don't worry, because she is now here to "save the planet." And saving the planet of course dwarfs all other concerns. It's really, really big! Ms. Octavio-Cortez has been given the sacred duty to save us all. Can anyone imagine anyone more inflated with good old fashioned show business hype more suited for this solemn mission?
    I'm going to take a wild guess that saving the planet is going to require a massive expansion of government. And Octopussy-Cortex & friends will have the reins. Am I right? They are going to protect you.

    1. Then why don't you embrace a method to eliminate the likes of AOC from government? Do you question whether my suggestion would have that effect? Then please explain why it would fail to do so.

    2. As to the far-left's power, try looking at Progressive Activists, the ideological cohort that most aligns with the far-left, represents only 15% of the electorate. The thing is that their disproportionate turnout rate in the primaries and otherwise loudness in every forum exaggerates their power the way the Ghost Army exaggerated Allied strength on the western front post D-Day.

  6. Parties control their own primaries, legitimate or not. They're actually private enterprises. One can run both inside and outside the party in NY except only party members can vote IN that primary, eg. they're not open primaries. But in NY politics, at least in NYC politics which is where the power of the state Democratic party flows, a candidate can run on multiple tickets. For instance John V Lindsay successfully ran for mayor on BOTH the liberal AND the conservative ticket at the same time. Parties are both very important and very un important at the same time. It's super important to be in the party that has power whatever that party is called. But the other thing that NY at the state level does which is truly bizarre is that a party can create their own fake party for their own reasons and run that candidate wherever they can get them on the ballot to be a spoiler. In fact the Working Families Party is a fake party that was created by Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo and is run out of the state capital specifically to be a finger in the eye. It's run such crazies as Zephyr Teachout, who at last tally has lost 5 election in 5 different districts and running on 5 different tickets.

    1. The Working Families Party has existed long before Andrew Cuomo came on the scene. Could you get your facts straight before posting?

    2. Instead of constantly complaining about the presence of the likes of AOC in government, support something that would get rid of them. I presented a method to do exactly that and an argument as to why it would have that effect. Do you disagree with the objective? With the analysis? I could even accept an argument based on what could be achieved for the opportunity cost of pursuing a change in the voting system. Anything else adds nothing.

  7. OT but related:
    I'd like to share this with all you nice people.

  8. Would you prefer a jungle primary like California? A jungle primary with a ranked choice voting system like Maine? Perhaps the non-voters in the primary didn't care who the candidate was rather than having a preference for Crowley.

    1. No, I would prefer no primary whatsoever. Just let everyone run in the general.

      Maine is also not the system I want. Under Maine's system, if more voters vote Republican first than vote Crowley first, Republicans' preferences between Crowley and AOC are ignored. I want Republicans' preferences between Crowley and AOC to be counted every time. Look up Condorcet voting.

      I use the term pairwise-rated for two effects. Pairwise emphasizes that it creates pairwise contests between all the candidates on the ballot. Rated means that each candidate receives a rating. With ordinal ratings, ballots would be marked the same way as for IRV with the only difference being in how the votes are counted. However, ratings could also be cardinal, either quantitative or qualitative. My full preference is for qualitative cardinal ratings of approve/disapprove with a measure of strength of approval/disapproval.

      My reason for that preference is that it evades the problem of voters deciding that only X candidates "deserve my vote" and thus ignoring all further candidates on the ballot and not expressing any preference between them. With my system, such voters could simply disapprove of all further, but disapprove of some of them stronger than others, thus expressing a preference among them. A further benefit is that it clearly identifies how a voter rates a candidate given no rating, say because the voter has no idea who the candidate is, relative to the other candidates.

  9. I looked up Condorcet voting. It seems to me there are three problems: First, it was designed by a mathematician and it seems to take an advanced degree in mathematics to understand it. Second is that there very well may be multiple, maybe more than two, rounds of voting. That would be expensive for government and inconvenient for most people. Finally, I think you're addressing a problem that really doesn't exist. To change our entire system of voting because you don't like AOC is cure a headache not with an aspirin but with a chainsaw. There are many congressman and senators that I don't like, my solution is to try to convince voters to vote for someone else.

    1. 1) What's so complicated about taking a pair of candidates, counting the number of voters who prefer the first and the number who prefer the second? Even if the public cannot grasp that, the balloting method of giving quantitative ratings to all candidates could be used for score voting which is effectively a weighted pairwise-rated system, but is simple highest average score to count.

      2) What is the basis for your assertion that it could require multiple rounds? Even in the case of a Condorcet paradox, it is possible to define rules to reach a result without another election. Also, the current system requires two rounds.

      3) The election of AOC is not the only reason for the change, just the reason the would appeal to this forum. The problem is that less than a third of the public dictates the choices to everyone. The current system also promotes polarization because the extremes get the full benefit of everyone who supports them without the cost of everyone opposing them if that opposition does not consolidate around one candidate. Under pairwise-rated voting, a polarizing candidate would face the full cost of voters pushed into opposition because such voters would be able to express a preference for all other candidates above the polarizer.

      Allow me to make a concrete hypothetical. Suppose there are 6 candidates, A through F. A makes a campaign around demonizing one sector of the electorate, to which 30% of the electorate responds that someone is finally speaking the truth while 60% view A's appeals as simple demagogy with the remaining 10% not having a strong view. Under plurality voting, the 60%, being split 5 ways between B, C, D, E, and F, would be an ineffective counter to the 30% that all goes to A. However, under pairwise-rated voting, B, C, D, E, and F would all benefit from that opposition, thus defeating A by 60% to 30%.

      As to saying the the solution should be to convince the voters, it should only require convincing a majority of all voters to prefer some other candidate. It should not require also convincing a majority of some subset of voters.

      A further benefit, at least if rating is done by approve/disapprove with a measure of strength of sentiment, is that it might improve voter participation by eliminating the excuse of "no one deserves my vote."

  10. I think you raise some interesting points. But I'm still confused about the Condorcet method. You said you didn't like the Maine system because it didn't always count the votes, but the ranked system only applied if one candidate didn't achieve more than 50%. If a candidate gets more than 50% in any system, he wins. The Condorcet system looks like a round robin, but if anybody is over 50%, he would win all the rounds. I may be wrong and I would certainly like to know why. The more important issue is increasing voter participation. Certainly we are all for that, well except for Republicans who have done all they can to suppress votes, see North Dakota for example. But I'm not sure your system would do that. The disadvantage is that it would seem to encourage single issue candidates. Say what you want about AOC, she was not a single issue candidate. The primary system, especially within a party, tends to discourage single issue candidates because of the power of the party. By the way, while it is obvious that AOC has comported with some unsavory characters, she has only been in office for a little over a month, so I'm willing to give her a little time to correct her behavior. Steven King, on the other hand, has consorted with actual Nazis for decades.

    1. "You said you didn't like the Maine system because it didn't always count the votes"

      I'll give you a real example that demonstrates my point. In the 2009 mayoral election in Burlington, Vt., voters for the Republican candidate, Wright, favored the Democrat, Montroll, over the Progressive, Kiss, by a 3-to-1 ratio. Had those preferences been counted, Montroll would have defeated Kiss. However, Wright got more first-choice votes, eliminating Montroll, resulting in those preferences being ignored, thus electing Kiss.

      "The Condorcet system looks like a round robin, but if anybody is over 50%, he would win all the rounds."

      If someone gets over 50% of first-choice votes, that candidate would also be choice of more than 50% in any pairwise contest and would thus win. However, it is also possible for a candidate to form different 51% coalitions against different opponents so that A could have 55% in a binary contest against either one of B or C even if fewer than 20% favor A over both of B and C.

      Referring to rounds is a bit of a misnomer because pairs are compared in parallel rather than in sequence.

      "The more important issue is increasing voter participation."

      Reducing the participation requirement to once a cycle can only help turnout. Allowing for more viable candidates (the current system allows third-parties, but does not allow them to be viable, and the actual experience in Australia and Ireland does not indicate that IRV allows third-parties to be viable either) can only help turnout. Allowing voters to express a preference between two candidates without feeling like one getting a vote undeservedly can only help turnout. All of those might have no effect, but they can't hurt.

      "while it is obvious that AOC has comported with some unsavory characters, ... I'm willing to give her a little time to correct her behavior. Steven King, on the other hand, has consorted with actual Nazis for decades."

      This system could also eliminate the likes of Steve King, I only focused on AOC because of what would interest this forum. Given a binary choice between King and his primary opponent, Cyndi Hanson, how many voters for King's Democratic opponent, JD Scholten, would choose King. With 25% of the Republicans, Hanson's share of the Republican primary vote, and an overwhelming majority of the Democrats, Hanson could easily defeat King if Democrats' preferences were counted.

    2. Ok, I looked at the Burlington election and I am finally beginning to see your point. Would Montroll have been the ultimate winner under the Condercet method? But wouldn't such a method encourage a large array of candidates? It seems to me that the major parties would have major problems with that kind of system. I wonder, suppose there are six parties, the Monarchist, the Federalist, the Union, the Constitutional, the Whig and the Democrat-Republican. Suppose 25% are ardent Monarchists and refuse to put in another choice. Assume the other five parties get 15% each, would the Monarchists win? I'm not trying to be obtuse, I'm really curious.

    3. Should have said this sooner, but I appreciate your raising points on topic.

      As to the issue of having a large array of candidates, the major complication would be in the public learning where each of them stands. Suppose there are 20 candidates in the race and one of them considers dropping out. Each voter's relative preference among the other 19 would be unaffected by whether or not that 20th does so, same with the aggregate of the electorate.

      As to the 6-way race you posit, whether or not the Monarchist voters rate the other 5 parties or not would not affect how the Monarchist candidates fare. The Monarchist would win if for every pairwise contest of the Monarchist and one of the other parties, 50.1% rate the Monarchist higher. If 25% of the total electorate rates the Monarchist highest, that would mean there would need to be a coalition of 34% of the remaining voters rating the Monarchist higher than the Constitutional, a coalition of 34% higher than the Federalist, etc., with no need for overlap between any of those two coalitions.

    4. Last question, because I don't want to take all your time. Wouldn't the Condorcest system encourage strategic voting. A Union voter choosing the Monarchist against the Federalist not because he favors the Monarchist but because the Federalist is the greater threat? I hope you noticed that all the parties, other than the Monarchist, were actual American parties. It's also interesting that Washington did not want any political parties in America, would the Condorcet system damage the strength of political parties and encourage more independent runs?

    5. What you describe is not strategic voting. If someone considers the Federalist (F) to be a greater threat than the Monarchist (M), then rating M higher than F would be an honest vote. For someone who rates Union highest, such a vote would count as 1 vote for M over F whether it was M 2nd/F 6th, M 5th/F 6th, M 3rd/F 4th, or any other combination. All of those allow for Union 1st.

      What would be strategic voting would be if a Union voter looked at the polls and saw that the Federalist was up to too much to sway the result, but the Union was up over the Monarchist and that the Federalist was up on the Monarchist by a small enough margin that it could be swayed, and then rated Monarchist above Federalist in order to create a Condorcet paradox. However, doing so would risk electing the Monarchist where the Union voter would have actually preferred the Federalist. This is different from other cases of strategic voting, such as if the Republicans in Burlington in 2009 had voted for the Democrat, they would have prevented the Progressive from getting elected but would not have hurt an otherwise viable candidate.

  11. Not a question, but I though you might find this quote from Bill James, the baseball sabrmatician, interesting:
    Sorry for burying the question prompted by the Oscars' "preferential" or "ranked choice" voting for Best Picture. Do you think that preferential/ranked choice voting produces more sensible results for political elections or baseball elections (Golden Glove, MVP), than current systems?
    Asked by: tkoegel
    Answered: 2/14/2019
    I'd have to study it. In baseball, a weighted ballot such as is used for the MVP Award works vastly better than a one-vote system because it collects much more information about how the voters really feel. I would be concerned about a system such as that used in Maine, because it eliminates information in the "extended rounds" of the process, rather than making fair use of the additional information which is collected.

    Politicians are geniuses are manipulating ballots. A friend of mine ran for State Treasurer maybe 15 years ago; the man holding the office had been involved in a financial scandal. All of the newspapers endorsed my friend for the office, but the incumbent (in the primary) got three of his friends to also run for the office. They divided the anti-incumbent vote four ways and allowed him to "win" the primary with 38% of the vote or something like that. Then he got crushed in the general election.

    I would be concerned that a ranked-vote system in a political election would lead to "straw man" candidacies and general confusion, and thus would become another tool used by the two parties to evaporate the center and inflame the passions of the extremists. It works in baseball because you can't run a straw man candidate for MVP. In order for it to work in politics you would have to have some sort of very solid ballot qualification procedure which did allow one side or the other to manipulate the process.

    1. The objection that James raised to Maine's system is that information is "eliminated" in "extended rounds." That is my objection as well. That is why I call for a single round that makes use of all the information. My preference would be for a pairwise contest, but score/range would be an acceptable alternative if the simplicity of how it counts votes makes it easier to get adopted.

      You raise the objection of how an incumbent can rig his reelection campaign by recruiting straw candidates to split the opposition. The thing is that pairwise-rated and score voting are immune to such chicanery because recruiting such straw candidates accomplishes nothing. Under both systems, if any candidate would defeat the incumbent head-to-head, no addition of more candidates would change that result.

      As to evaporation of the center, that is happening now. IRV might reduce it, but would be mostly ineffective at doing so. However, pairwise-rating and score would promote the center. To demonstrate, consider what the IRV-fanatics use as an argument against Condorcet-based voting. They take the case of 48% voting A>C>B, 47% voting B>C>A, and 5% C>A>B, C would win pairwise against both A and B despite, as IRV-fanatics point out, having only 5% "core support." Now imagine that A is Tea Party, B is Green, and C is either Niskanen or DLC. If you accept that such preferences are plausible, do you see how such a system would promote the center?

      MVP balloting is different from political voting because there are usually several dozen candidates for MVP which is rare for political office. For that reason, MVP balloting often uses the Borda system.