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Tom Dietterich

If you group the candidates into left-wing vs. centrist, the centrist vote was larger than the left-wing. So I don't think you can say that this is equivalent to Bernie winning 60%. What is the underlying stochastic model?


TD: I'm framing the problem as looking for equivalence in terms of strength of the winner in a N-person versus 2-person contest. I want something that works generally, regardless of who the candidates are. The goal is to put some rigor behind the intuitive notion that the vote shares can't be directly compared.

I thought about a stochastic model but couldn't get past the need to model migration behavior. In the counterfactual scenario, what would the #4 candidate's voters do if there were only 2 contestants? That requires arbitrarily setting a large number of parameters, with no data to support them.

Separately, any analysis that adds together left-wing and centrist groupings makes several assumptions: (a) that all voters make decisions primarily based on their identification with those factions, and (b) that voters consider the candidates within each grouping as exchangeable.

Also, Bernie winning 60% is not the blowout that the media portrayed it to be. An even match is 50/50; 60/40 is a good win but not huge. Clinton won most states on Super Tuesday by a bigger margin than 60/40!

Noah Motion

A new instance from Megan McCardle, in a slightly different context:

“The most important theory these primaries should have killed is that of our nascent socialist revolution. That theory was plausible in 2016, when Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) won New Hampshire with 60 percent of the vote. It is less so now that he’s leaving the same state with only a quarter of its votes. Even if every one of Andrew Yang’s and Warren’s voters had picked him, he’d still only have gotten a bit over a third, and his polls suggest that’s about where he’d be nationally, too. So what looked, four years ago, like a sharp leftward shift in the electorate now seems more like a mass protest against the party’s slavish fealty to the Clintons.”



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