Random political musings of the day:
It's interesting to consider: what is the purpose of an election? Is it to select the candidate that is the number one choice of a simple majority of the citizens, or is it to select the candidate that maximizes/optimizes the net satisfaction of all citizens?
For example, consider a hypothetical scenario where there are only two political parties: Democrats and Republicans. Suppose Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate and Donald Trump is the Republican candidate. Now suppose there are 51 million Republican voters and 49 million Democratic voters, and 100% of each vote for their respective candidates. Further suppose that the election is determined by a simple majority. Then, clearly, Donald Trump will win the election. However, suppose further that 25% of Republicans hate Hillary Clinton, and the rest are neutral, whereas 50% of Democrats hate Donald Trump, and the rest are neutral. In such circumstances, it is apparently clear that the "net satisfaction" with the outcome would be decidedly higher with a Clinton presidency than with a Trump presidency, even though a majority of voters actually prefer Trump.
Disclaimer: this is a purely hypothetical scenario and no implicit approval or disapproval of either candidate/party is implied.
It is clear that individuals' preferences and choices are much more nuanced than is made possible to express through a simple vote. If we could express this additional information during the voting process, that additional information could inform a game-theory-type optimization problem which could result in an outcome much more likely to maximize the net satisfaction of the citizens.
Further, it is interesting to speculate on the implications of such a system on the likelihood of a third-party candidate being elected, especially when the two major parties are highly divisive. For example, consider a new scenario where there are three parties: the Democratic party, the Republican party, and the Libertarian party, with Ron Paul as the candidate. Suppose there are 51 million Republican voters, 49 million Democrat voters, and 5 million Libertarian voters.
Again suppose, that 100% of the voters from each party vote for their party's candidate. Further, for this example assume that 100% of Republican voters hate Hillary Clinton and are neutral towards Ron Paul, and 100% of Democrat voters hate Donald Trump and are neutral towards Ron Paul. Further, suppose 100% of Libertarian voters are generally opposed to both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
In this example, Donald Trump should once again win the election simply based on the number of votes. However, due to the close margin between the number of Republican and Democrat voters and the extreme hostility of them towards the other party's candidate, the "net satisfaction" of voters with the outcome would actually be maximized with a Ron Paul presidency.
Thus, such a system naturally paves the way for new parties to emerge when the public is largely split between highly divisive parties. Such a system could be implemented practically by simply giving a score to each candidate on the ballot instead of simply voting for your top choice. This additional information better represents voters actual preferences and could lead to outcomes that better maximize the actual satisfaction of the public with elected officials.
Just a random thought of the day.