How voting for your favorite can be a huge mistake

Consider a simplified approximate version of the 2000 US Presidential election. Here's approximately how (poll studies showed) the voters felt.

2000 feelings:
#voters true favorite
Bush(Rep) 43%
Gore(Dem) 30%
Nader 27%

But the Nader-favorite voters, if forced to choose between Gore and Bush, favored Gore by about an 80:20 ratio. It was strategically stupid of them to vote honestly for their true favorite Nader. If they did so, as we can see, their most-hated candidate (Bush) would win easily. If every Nader voter instead refused to vote for Nader, then approximately this would have happened:

2000 feelings (restricted to Bush & Gore):
#voters their vote
Bush(Rep) 49%
Gore(Dem) 51%

And Gore wins, which – in the view of about 80% of the Nader voters – was a better outcome. Our plurality voting system incentivizes voters to lie. And not only that, but to lie in such a way that "third parties" systematically are weakened and die.

So sure enough (studies showed) about 90% of the Nader-favorite voters did vote for somebody else! (How would you feel about that if you were Nader?) Here's how it went down (official election totals)

2000 official totals:
#voters true favorite
Bush(Rep) 47.9%
Gore(Dem) 48.4%
Nader 2.7%
Others (combined) 1.0%

and Bush won. (Yes, Bush won with slightly fewer votes than Gore, thanks to his extremely close victory in the state of Florida and the USA's "electoral college" non-popular vote system.)

The 10% of Nader voters who voted honestly made a huge mistake by being honest, and they paid for it. But why should honestly voting for your favorite be a mistake? Couldn't there be a better voting system in which it is not a mistake? Meet Range Voting.

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