Condorcet and Bolivia

Just a quick note here, in that at the very moment that I posted my entry on Chile’s senate election, in came a terrific comment from Miguel Centellas to my previous post on Bolivia. In the comment, Miguel notes that Evo Morales is almost certainly the Condorcet loser (i.e., would lose to any other candidate in a head-to-head contest). How timely of Miguel to bring up the Condorcet matter in this context, given the extensive discussion of Condorcet (also triggered by a comment to a previous post) that was carried out here in the past week.

I certainly agree that Morales is the Condorcet loser. Will Congress really ratify his plurality? The congressional runoff process is designed for nothing if not to prevent a Condorcet loser from becoming president.

Also, I should note that I failed in my previous post on Bolivia to note that Miguel believes Evo Morales’s actual support in the election will be lower than the polls suggest, because the polls do not seek to determine who is a likely voter. That may well be, although I will admit to being surprised that Morales’s voters would be less motivated than those of other candidates. I do not know enough about the Bolivian electorate to comment on that, and so I will defer to Miguel–and thank him for planting a seed!

0 thoughts on “Condorcet and Bolivia

  1. Thanks for responding. Allow me to clarify why I think potential Morales voters *might* be less likely to vote.

    Morales has broader support from elderly voters than Tuto (Tuto has braoder support among younger voters, the two split the middle age groups) according to an Ipsos poll from last week. Since voter turnout is normally lower (in Bolivia, as well as in other places) among the elderly (difficulty in reaching polls, etc), their higher support for Tuto *might* translate to a suppressed voter turnout of those very voters.

    Likewise, poverty is normally correlated to low voter turnout, and here again Evo has more support among voters in the lowest income category (Tuto has stronger support in the higher income category, and they’r virtually tied for the middle). So if poor voters don’t turn out, that could mean that Evo voters stay home in slightly higher numbers.

    However, Evo has lower support among rural voters than Tuto (Evo has higher support in the cities). Voter turnout is usually lower in rural districts, than in the cities. So here Evo has an advantages over Tuto.

    But on the balance, 2 of 3 of the key demographic factors for voter turnout favor Tuto, rather than Evo. Enough to make a small dent in Evo’s poll numbers (not a major dent, I’d guess that 5% would be the max difference).

    Again, this is all just speculation based on previous voter patterns in Bolivia (the country I study). But since this is a very anomolous election, who knows.


  2. Interesting. On poverty and low turnout, my expectation is that it’s true only where the poor lack organization. Can we say that about Bolivia. given the mass movements and MAS itself?

    The “second choice” data are also very interesting. Thanks for posting here.


  3. Well, the organization of Bolivia’s poor is a weird sort of thing. They’re organized, but only so far as caudillos want them organized. Having spent time in La Paz during the October protests (and the year that followed), it was clear that protests hit their peak at just about the part where the leaders of the “sindicatos” started handing out the little “fichas” (used to mark attendance). Once the fichas were distributed, a protest of several thousand could dwindle down to less than a hundred. Protesters are either a) paid to protest or b) fined by their local sindicato bosses for failure to attend. On rare occasion, some sindicatos use force (like whips, litteraly, or other personal or property damage) against people who refuse to attend marches. It’s a weird sight to see.

    That said, voter turnout in poor areas is often low due to transportation and other matters, regardless of organization. The day of voting, all public transportation (well, almost all businesses, actually) are shut down. So voter turnout can be low if it’s difficult to reach a polling station. This, of course, affects rural voters most of all, if they have to travel a long distance to vote.

    But if you look at disaggregated voter turnout figures for Bolivian electoral precincts across the years, you’ll see that voter turnout is lowest in the poorest, most rural districts. There’s no exit polling data, so we can’t know about individual voters to know for sure (and certainly, we can’t know much about age, that’s just speculation based on patterns from other countries), but the correlation between poverty rates in voting districts w/ low turnout is high enough to suggest that poverty tends to suppress voter turnout it Bolivia (and this goes for rural or urban districts).


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