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| | |-+  Question on Tactical Voting (a real-world dilemma)
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Author Topic: Question on Tactical Voting (a real-world dilemma)  (Read 286 times)
Nutmeg
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« on: September 20, 2012, 07:07:49 pm »
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As a resident of the capital city of the United States of America, I am not represented in Congress, so the second highest office for which I will cast a ballot this year (behind president) will be for the Council of the District of Columbia.

Every 2 years, D.C. residents elect 2 at-large members who serve 4-year terms, for a total of 4 at-large members, in addition to the 8 who are elected by ward.  (This year we also will have a special election for Council chairman, and the favorite currently holds one of the at-large seats otherwise up for election in 2014, meaning that we then will have a special election next year to fill his at-large seat, but I digress.)

For these seats, the D.C. Home Rule Act mandates that only 2 of the 4 at-large members can be of the same party, and over time there always have been 1 or 2 Democrats in addition to, at different points, Republicans, Statehood Greens, and, more recently, independents.  (Democrats have always held all 8 ward seats.)

Each party (Democratic, Republican, and Statehood Green) nominates one candidate apiece, while there can be any number of independent candidates, and in the general election, the top 2 vote-getters are elected.

In the past, D.C. residents elected as many as 2 Republicans to serve at the same time, and Statehood Greens were elected for more than 20 consecutive years.  However, in recent years, the composition of the 4 at-large seats has been steady at 2 Democrats and 2 Democrats running under the "independent" label.  (There's a neat table showing party composition on the D.C. council at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_members_of_the_Council_of_the_District_of_Columbia#Table)

Further, because only up to 2 members of the same party can serve at the same time, this creates the strange dynamic of a particular seat being the "Democratic" or the "other" seat, making it relatively harder for a particular seat to change parties.  (In fact, the reason the 2 Republican seats changed parties to independent was because one Republican incumbent switched "parties" to become an independent, while the other was primaried from the right.)

Anyway, enough background.  On to my question:

In 2012, the Democrat up for re-election, Vince Orange, is considered pretty safe, having been elected in a special election only last year.  However, the "independent" up for re-election, Michael A. Brown, has been involved in a number of scandals and in recent weeks it has become obvious that he might actually lose to another "independent," David Grosso.  I'm not voting for either Orange or Brown (I've actually not supported any Council member with a color as a last name, including then-Chairman Vince Grey or his successor, Kwame Brown.)

The candidates for the 2 seats in 2012 are:
Michael A. Brown (Independent)
Vincent Orange (D)
Mary Brooks Beatty (R) - Ex-ANC Commissioner, Businesswoman, Ex-Lobbyist & Ex-Teacher
Ann Wilcox (Statehood Green) - Ex-DC School Board Member, Attorney & '06 Candidate
A.J. Cooper (Independent) - Ex-BET TV Show Host, Community Activist & USMC Veteran
David Grosso (Independent) - Attorney, Ex-Congressional Aide & Ex-DC Council Aide
Angela London (Independent) - University Program Associate
Leon Swain Jr. (Independent) - Ex-DC Taxicab Commissioner & Ex-Police Officer

My preferred candidate is David Grosso (I), with Mary Brooks Beatty (R) as my second choice.  So my question is, if Orange (D) is safe to finish first, but I want Grosso to beat Brown for second place, then should I be tactical in my voting and vote for only Grosso, or should I vote for both Grosso and Beatty, or does it even matter?  I'm having trouble analyzing the game theory on this one.  Thanks for reading and for any thoughts you might have.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2012, 10:44:02 pm by Nutmeg »Logged
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Lewis Trondheim
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2012, 10:22:25 am »
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If Grosso is the only one with a chance to beat Brown, all that matters is whether you cast your second vote for Brown or not - Beatty or Orange or nobody or one of the others, makes no difference. Evidently, if there is a however remote chance that somebody else might come up the middle and win, and you care mostly about defeating Brown, you should give your second vote to that person. You cannot actually vote tactically here. (Though you could if, say, your real preferred candidates were Orange and Wilcox but you very much cared about Brown being taken out, so gave Grosso one of your votes because he's the man to do that.)
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Nutmeg
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2012, 06:15:18 am »
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You cannot actually vote tactically here.

Thank you very much, Lewis, for that explanation, and especially for pointing this out.  I do appreciate it!
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muon2
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2012, 09:42:31 am »
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You are describing the bullet vote for a single candidate in a multi-seat race. Tactically this applies when you have a clear favorite in the race, but you aren't sure who the strongest challenger is that might block your candidate from being among the winners. The risk is that you would cast a vote for the other candidate and they would sweep ahead you your favorite. The bullet vote minimizes that risk.

If Grosso were your only acceptable candidate then a bullet vote is the clear choice. If you want to maximize unseating Brown then you should cast two votes for contenders who have a chance to do so since it helps out two possibilities towards your goal. From what you posted the analysis should come down to whether the risk of Beatty edging out Grosso is acceptable in order to have two shots at removing Brown.
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Yelnoc
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2012, 09:53:43 am »
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My advice is to never vote tactically.  No race ever comes down to one vote, and if it did there would be a recount.
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Bacon King
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« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2012, 12:56:22 am »
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My advice is to never vote tactically.  No race ever comes down to one vote, and if it did there would be a recount.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_close_election_results
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