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That Moment when you Realize the Best Picture is Selected more Democratically than is POTUS…

Actually, I already new that (indeed, even the older FPTP system is more democratic than the electoral college) but I was listening to a podcast yesterday that mentioned the Oscar’s voting procedure and it hit me that that was a good way to bring, in at least small measure, some attention to how voting rules matter.  Indeed, the fact that Academy uses the IRV system to chose the Best Picture is probably how Moonlight beat La La Land.

Here’s a 538 piece from 2015 that explains the system:  Here’s How The Academy Chooses The Best Picture.

Voting rules matter.  They mattered for selecting Best Picture and for POTUS.  The difference is that the Academy of Motion Pictures uses rules designed to find out overall voter preference and the United States of America doesn’t.

Meanwhile, France is about to give us another example of this, as the odds are that its two-round system will prevent the election of an extreme nationalist (just as such a system would have prevented such an election in the United States).

And while I may end up being wrong about the eventual winner in France, one thing is for sure:  the next President of France will assume office with more popular votes than any other candidate for that office.

(And please:  no “we’re a republic, not a democracy” responses–it is truly a nonsensical answer).

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Hal_10000 says:

    I’m a big fan of IRV, especially in primaries. I think, had the GOP had it, Trump would never have been nominated because the not-Trump vote would have united better. One of the many advantages is that it discourages candidates from attacking each other because they want to be the second choice for their opponent’s voters.

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  2. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I’m a big fan of IRV, especially in primaries. I think, had the GOP had it, Trump would never have been nominated because the not-Trump vote would have united better.

    There’s even evidence of this: one of the most interesting polls I saw during the primaries showed that in head-to-head matchups between Trump and another Republican candidate, he did very poorly. When voters were asked to choose between Trump and Rubio, or between Trump and Cruz, he lost to either one of them by double digits. This can be explained by the fact that Rubio (and to some extent Cruz) was popular among Republican voters who didn’t necessarily view him as a first choice, whereas Trump was much likelier to be the first choice of any Republican with a favorable view of him. Because of this, Rubio ended up getting creamed by a candidate who was actually less popular than him in what was supposedly a popularity contest. That’s the sort of effect that IRV can reduce.

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  3. I’ve suggested a national runoff in the Party Primaries, by the way. I don’t know if people on the RNC reads OTB comments. 😉

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  4. JKB says:

    Fortunately, we operate on a constitutional majority basis that emphasizes geographical dispersion and one that endures in time (a necessity to transform the Senate).

    As Milton Friedman observed, no one really believes in democracy as defined as majority rule.

    Muirhead defends the Electoral College, stating that it answers the fundamental question of who should rule, which is the constitutional majority. The Electoral College is a constitutional majority because it represents an enduring and geographically dispersed population that is larger in space and more enduring in time and thus a more thoughtful, right, and just majority.

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  5. @JKB: Look, a mechanism that allows for 2 popular vote inversions in 5 cycles is flawed. Further, a system that allow the loser to win millions more votes than the winner is flawed. And a system that incentivizes attention be paid to a recurring roll of swing states is flawed.

    I will agree with this:

    no one really believes in democracy as defined as majority rule.

    This is, of course, correct. But I have noted this on multiple occasions.

    BTW: the Friedman clip has zero to do with the EC.

    I would further note that in this context, the phrase “constitutional majority” is a dodge.

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  6. Tyrell says:

    Well, I did not get to vote on the various movie awards. The only film that won anything that I have seen is “Zootopia”. I have seen it six times. It is very good for a Disney – Pixar film. I can’t wait to get to the sloth scene.
    There should be a way for the public to have some input on those awards. Most of the time the movies that win have a very small audience and did not make it to many theaters. I think that there should be categories for: comedy, musical, action, science fiction, and scary movies.

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  7. @Hal_10000:

    I’m a big fan of IRV, especially in primaries. I think, had the GOP had it, Trump would never have been nominated because the not-Trump vote would have united better.

    But the way primaries are conducted is not in itself a peculiar kind of IRV? The worse candidates are being eliminated from state to state until only remains two, and in the end one – and Trump win even when his only opponent was Cruz.

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  8. Kylopod says:

    @Miguel Madeira:

    But the way primaries are conducted is not in itself a peculiar kind of IRV? The worse candidates are being eliminated from state to state until only remains two, and in the end one – and Trump win even when his only opponent was Cruz.

    By the time his only opponent was Cruz–heck, even by the time it was only Cruz and Kasich–Trump had already amassed an unreachable delegate lead, and the only hope of stopping him was a brokered convention, which would have been a major headache for the party regardless of the candidate one favored. That is not even close to how IRV works, and it certainly doesn’t prove Trump would have beaten another GOP candidate one on one–the poll I mentioned earlier shows how false this assumption would be.

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  9. @Miguel Madeira:

    But the way primaries are conducted is not in itself a peculiar kind of IRV?

    No, not at all. The primaries are a series of contests that tend to favor the plurality winner in the given state or district in that state (this is especially true for the GOP rules used in 2016).

    The whole point of IRV is that it takes into account second, third, fourth, etc. preferences into account.

    It is worth noting that a majority of GOP primary voters voted for someone other than Trump: he won 44.95% of the votes cast in the 2016 primaries, but won 58.29% of the delegates.

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  10. Another benefit of IRV is that you can do away with most primaries if you want. You have to have them for presidential races to allocate delegates, but other offices could skip them and just have a single “jungle” primary on general election day.

    People who vote in primaries are more extreme in the views. Perhaps more moderate people could get into office under such a system.

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  11. Tyrell says:

    Over the weekend people voted for a movie with their tickets – “Logan” had a great weekend at the box office. Maybe some of the people at the Academy will take notice.

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  12. @Tyrell:

    Over the weekend people voted for a movie with their tickets – “Logan” had a great weekend at the box office. Maybe some of the people at the Academy will take notice.

    You are utterly missing the point made in the post.

    But, if you want to use your analogy, “Logan” was the top at the box office this weekend because more people saw it than saw “Get Out”–and that ranking is also more democratic than the one that selected POTUS.

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  13. anon. says:

    6200 voting nobles in a country of 300 million people is an oligarchy.

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