The extent to which the electoral system distorted the results of last week’s Palestinian legislative elections becomes all the more clear when the analysis is conducted at the district level, with the full votes for losing as well as winning candidates. The complete data also make it clear how much stronger the cohesion of Hamas voters was than was the case for Fatah voters (as I suggested prior to the election that it would be), and how dependent Fatah was on the personal vote of some of its individual candidates to win as many seats as it did.
First of all, consider the distribution of party pluralities across the districts. Using the list vote, Hamas led in eight districts and Fatah in eight. The districts vary in their magnitudes (i.e. the number of seats they elect). The eight districts in which Hamas led elect 39 of the 60 nominal-tier seats, and the districts in which Fatah led combine for 21. So, Hamas did better in the more populated districts, as would be expected from its lead in the national tier in which the list-PR seats were allocated. But the extent to which Fatah was hurt by the specific electoral system used in the local districts is striking. In two districts where Fatah had the most list votes, it managed to elect no candidates, and in two others where it led in list votes it elected fewer candidates than Hamas.
Here are the vote and seat totals in the districts in which Hamas led. Both votes percentages and seats are given as Hamas/Fatah:
(The starred districts are those in which the party that led the party list votes did not win the most seats.)
Notice that Hamas beat Fatah 35-1 in seats in the districts in which it led in the party vote, while Fatah managed only a 10-10 split of the seats in the districts where it was the leading party (other seats were won by independents).
The reason a party could run ahead of its competition in the list vote, yet fail to lead in the seat allocation lies, of course, in ticket splitting, whereby some voters give their party-list vote to one party, but cast some or all of their candidate votes for candidates of other parties (or independents).
We can analyze this phenomenon more closely by looking into the ratios of list to candidate votes for each of the leading parties. If a candidate has a personal vote, the ratio of his vote to his party’s will be greater than 1.00. If he is less popular than his party, the ratio will be less than 1.00.
In the Palestinian context, the nominal tier used an MNTV system (multi-seat plurality, with the voter allowed to cast as many votes as there are seats). So, we need to compute the ratio for the leading candidate and the last candidate (and we could do so for all a party’s candidates in a district, but let’s not get too carried away, fun though this is!).
Averaging across the 16 districts, the ratio of Hamas’s leading candidate’s votes to the party-list vote is 1.01. In other words, on average, the leading Hamas candidate obtained almost the same vote share as the party list. The lowest district ratio was .88 (Jericho) and the highest was 1.14 (Gaza). In twelve of the sixteen districts it was .95 or better.
For Fatah, on the other hand, the average ratio of the leading candidate’s vote to the party vote was .91, suggesting that Fatah candidates tended to be less popular than the party that nominated them. The lowest was .68 (Bethlehem) and the highest was 1.15 (Jericho, which elects a single member). In only four districts was it greater than 1, and in seven it was less than .90.
Taken together, these ratios reveal that Fatah’s leading candidates were less popular than the party as a whole, while those of Hamas were almost exactly as popular as the party. That fact alone tells us a lot about the extent to which this electoral system’s emphasis on individual candidates hurt Fatah. But that is not all. One of the challenges for a party under MNTV is to ensure that its voters use all their votes in the candidate races and cast them all for the party’s candidates. Voters are free to partially abstain or jump around and give some votes to candidates of one party and some to those of other parties or independents. Especially in districts that elect several members, MNTV thus poses a real challenge to a party’s candidate-recruitment and vote-mobilization efforts.
So, to determine the extent to which voters for each major party were loyal enough to give most or all of their votes to the party’s candidates, we can look at the ratio of the last candidate of the party to the party list votes in each district.
For Hamas, the ratio of the last candidate’s vote to the list vote averaged .89 across all thirteen multi-seat districts, while for Fatah it averaged .73. Two things stand out here. These figures show that there was a ballot “fall off” for both parties, either because voters got tired of marking ballots and stopped or because attractive candidates from another party pulled them away from some of their own party’s candidates. Yet note how much greater the Fatah fall off is for the last candidate. Not only did Fatah’s slate of candidates start off lower relative to its party list, but the numbers suggest a greater “tiredness” or “temptation” by other parties’ candidates for Fatah than for Hamas as voters cast (or didn’t cast) their multiple votes.
In some of the districts, the fall off for Fatah was really striking. In Jerusalem, the fourth and last Fatah candidate had just over half the votes of the Fatah list, and in Tulkarem the third and last had less than half.
This analysis underscores the extent to which Hamas had the more party-loyal electorate. They also show that Fatah had some individual candidates who were quite strong personally, or else they could not have broken through the more solid Hamas electorate. And they should remind us again that it was not the Palestinian people who gave Hamas such a sweeping victory (74-45 in seats, but only 45-41% in party votes). It was bad electoral-system design.
Al Gore’s speech from January 16 is long, but powerful. Highly recommended. And, no, it is not a coincidence that I read it and am posting it at the very moment when Gore’s opponent in the 2000 case before the Supreme Court is speaking–and on the very day when the vaunted “swing vote” on that Court was replaced with an adherent to the doctrine of executive unilateralism. None of this is a coincidence.
The Palestine Central Election Commission announced the final results of the legislative election on January 29. Fatah gained one list seat and one district seat–both at the expense of Hamas–compared to the preliminary tally. The final seat total for Hamas is thus 74, or 56.1%. The final vote total actually puts Hamas higher than originally reported, at 44.5%. I have updated my previous post and a subsequent post offers a more detailed analysis.
The avocado grove–especially after a good pruning–is a pleasant place to enjoy the dappled sun and hear the breeze rustle the leathery leaves, and to admire the fruit and hope it portends better crops and prices to stave off the threat of any rigid pressure.
Go to Keeth Poole’s Voteview and scroll down to the link for “recent politics.”
The short story is that the predicted vote is 56-44. And, yes, alas, that is in favor, but note that it would be a closer vote than many of the early reported whip counts implied (60+ in favor). And, as one of the contributors to the project said to me in private communication, the closer the vote is to party-line, the less interesting is the enterprise of predicting the ultimate vote based on early announcements and knowledge of senators’ spatial-voting record! For Roberts, the model predicted 69 votes. He got 78. Eleven senators were wrongly predicted, which is not bad. The prediction for Alito is likely to be even more accurate, I suspect.
They also have a prediction for Monday’s cloture vote: 67-33.
Spring can come rather early here at Ladera Frutal. The Tropic Snow peach is one of the bellweathers of spring, as it is always the first of our varieties of deciduous tree fruit to bloom. This photo was taken on January 27.
If I were to grow only one peach it would be Tropic Snow. It is very low chill and thus can be grown practically anywhere–perhaps not literally in the tropics, but certainly in southern Florida or interior Hawaii. (Its low-chill character could cause it problems in colder regions, however, as it might bloom too early–though not in January).
The fruit is white-fleshed (hence ‘snow’) and melting (also like snow!). It is not a keeper or a shipper, and so you are not likely to see it for sale anywhere, even a farmers market. You pretty much have to grow it yourself. The flesh is extremely juicy and luscious, with a tart lemony character to go with classic white-peach flavor.
Its listed chilling requirement is 100-200 hours. It clearly is not more than 100, as the buds started swelling on January 10, at which time its location up here on the slope just below F&V Central was probably barely 100, if that. In the photo can be seen not only a couple of blooms, but a whole series of swelling buds. It will be in full bloom in the first days of Februrary, and we can expect the first fruit in the second half of May. The photo also shows the wildflowers in bloom in the irrigated ares of the slope among the bay rum, curry leaf, pitanga, cherimoyas, sapodillas, and other trees.
Much more surprising than Tropic Snow bud swell on January 10, is Newcastle apricot bud color in late January.
The Newcastle is one of the very best apricots. Most sources claim it has a chilling requirement of 500 hours, but clearly those sources are wrong. A tree that had been planted at our house in Carlsbad by the original owner in 1975, a mile or so from the coast, fruited annually, even in years when the local chilling accumulation was probably no more than 350 hours. The tree in the photo is grown from a scion of the old tree we left behind in Carlsbad and is planted in the corralito at the lowest part of Ladera Frutal. Down there, the chilling accumulation is much greater than in the upper reaches of the slope, which is why the corralito planted with apricots, pluots, cherries, pears and higher-chill peaches is located there. Even so, the chill received down there as of a few days ago when the buds started to swell was probably under 350 hours. The cluster of buds that are swelling may be doing so because the cluster is at the end of a branch that was pruned. That is one of the reasons we prune during dormancy–to stimulate growth and flowering the coming year. So the reddening of these buds is not a gaurantee that the tree has had its chilling requirement met, but their presence is certainly encouraging.
Newcastle is thus the variety I most recommend to people seeking to grow apricots in low-chill areas. Most nurseries recommend Gold Kist, but aside from being a much less flavorful apricot, Gold Kist was much less reliable than either Newcastle or Royal in Carlsbad. Katy is also sometimes recommended as a low-chill apricot, but it too appears to be more spottily productive even here (I no longer grow Gold Kist) and Katy is also a subacid fruit, and what’s the point of eating an apricot that lacks acidity? I recently saw a variety called Tropic Gold that is alleged to be low chill, but I know nothing about it (and amazingly I neglected to buy a tree, though I still may go back and get one in the name of science).
If Tropic Snow is blooming and Newcastle is gearing up, pitchers and catchers must be getting ready to report!
NOTE: The following has been partially updated to reflect the final results. I have not updated the votes totals for individual candidates, except for the district of Khan Younis, which was the only one in which the balance of Hamas and Fatah elected candidates changed from the preliminary results. From a quick check of the final results, it is clear that the ranking of candidates in districts other than Khan Younis did not change in any way relevant to what is reported below, even if the specific vote totals for candidates did change.
Seventy four seats for Hamas (officially known as Change and Reform), which obtained just 44.5% of the party-list votes, is a shockingly high level of seats. That’s 56.1% of the seats, for an advantage ratio (%seats/%votes) of 1.26. Shocking! Or is it?
Remember, before the election, in surveying the electoral rules, I noted that a parallel mixed-member system in which the nominal tier was multi-seat plurality (in the form of multiple non-transferable vote) would tend to generate a highly disproportional result. With an average district magnitude in the nominal tier of around 4, the disproportionality would be expected to be quite high, because the relationship between district magnitude and proportionality under plurality rule is the opposite of that under PR: Higher magnitude, greater disproportionality. The Palestinian nominal tier includes one 9-seat district and other districts of 8, 7 and 6 seats each. Only four districts have fewer than three seats.
At the time, I was referencing a poll that suggested the leading party would have around 45% of the votes (correctly, though the poll had the wrong party leading), and I said that this electoral system would be expected to manufacture a majority for a party with around 45% of the vote, with one proviso. It would do so only if the voters for that largest party were very party-loyal, such that they tended to fill out the full slate of the party’s candidates in those multi-seat districts. And I suggested that a movement like Hamas would be more likely to have such voters than Fatah, and so Hamas would have a higher advantage ratio that Fatah would–even if, as expected at the time, Hamas had the second most votes nationally.
Then on election night, I warned that the exit polls would probably under-state Hamas’s actual vote. However, even as I said that, I never imagined that Hamas would win a plurality of more three percentage points over Fatah. Now that we know that it did–in the party-list vote–there is nothing shocking whatsoever about the scale of the Hamas victory. Given that it was the largest party, it would be expected to win the vast majority of the nominal-tier seats, unless there was significant regional variation in party support, such that each party won similar numbers of districts, or unless its voters tended not to vote full slates.
Actually, the Hamas victory was even larger than it seems, for five of Fatah’s seventeen nominal-tier seats came from seats set aside for Christian candidates. There were four districts with one or two such seats, and all but one of these seats went to Fatah (the other went to an independent). So of the 60 non-set-aside seats, Hamas won 45 of them (75%) and Fatah only 12 (20%).
These 60 seats are divided among sixteen districts. A Hamas candidate had the leading vote total in eleven of them. These eleven districts comprise 46 seats (ignoring from here on out the Christian quota seats). Of these seats, Hamas won 41 (89.1%) and Fatah 4 (with the others won by independents).
In four districts, the leading candidate was from Fatah. These districts comprise eleven seats, and eight of those went to Fatah. In the remaining district (Tulkarem) the leading candidate was an independent, and the other two seats went to Hamas.
Leaving aside the independent candidates (as well as the Christian set-asides), there were just four districts that were not clean sweeps. These were Jenin (2 Hamas, 2 Fatah), Khan Younis (3 Hamas, 2 Fatah), Deir al-Balah (2 Hamas, 1 Fatah), and Nablus (5 Hamas, 1 Fatah).
In each of the four districts that returned split results the one (or in Jenin and Khan Younis, 2) Fatah winning candidate ranked ahead of some Hamas candidates. I will later on do some analysis of the complete results, but the following based on preliminary totals, when only the votes of the winning candidates were available. What is clear is that, aside from the Christian set-asides and the three districts whose six seats it swept (Qalqilya, Jericho, and Rafah), Fatah won seats only because it had a few candidates who ran well ahead of any others of the party. In other words, there were some with personal votes that allowed them to stand out ahead of not only the rest of the pack of Fatah candidates, but also ahead of some Hamas candidates. Let’s look at these districts more closely.
In Jenin, the parties alternated in the order of election: a Hamas candidate followed by one from Fatah, then another Hamas, and then another Fatah. The two Hamas candidates had 30,761 and 27,857 votes, while the two Fatah had 29,059 and 26,909. Without the votes of losing candidates or a party-list breakdown by district, it is impossible to know exactly what the total electorate for each party was in Jenin, but suffice it to say that the two parties were very closely balanced, and with the movement here and there of even a few thousand votes (that’s votes, not voters, given the multiple votes each voter may cast), one party could have swept. This outcome is a reminder, then, of how important individual candidates are in this type of electoral system. If all the candidates of a party were undifferentiated in the eyes of the voter and every voter gave all his or her votes to one party’s candidates, party would be a perfect predictor of the vote and the leading party would sweep. The personal vote allows a candidate to obtain some votes from voters who might not otherwise vote for the party.
Khan Younis was the one district in which the partisan complexion of the delegation changed from the preliminary to the final results, and so this paragraph is the only one in which I have updated any individual candidate vote totals. In Khan Younis, the first candidate elected was Mohammad Yousif Shakir Dahlan, with 38,349 votes. The last of five candidates elected was also from Fatah, Sofyan al-Agha, with 32,964 (more than 5,000 less than the other Fatah winner). In between these totals, three Hamas candidates were elected with vote totals ranging from 37,695 (654 behind the leading Fatah candidate) down to 33,207. A fourth Hamas candidate came in just over 300 votes behind the the last winner in the district, Fatah’s al-Agha.
In Deir al-Balah, the one Fatah winning candidate came in second place, 2,227 votes behind the district leader, and just 346 votes ahead of the last-elected candidate.
Finally, in Nablus, the one Fatah winner came in third place among the six candidates elected. The district leader was Ahmad Ali Ahmad Ahmad, wth 44,634 votes. The next Hamas candidate, Hamid Suleiman Jabir Khadair was 1,182 votes behind him, and then came the one Fatah winner, Mahmoud Othaman Ragheb al-Aloul, another 5,244 votes back. The last-elected candidate had 36,655 votes, which is 7,979 votes behind the leader.
These results tell us that the variance between elected candidates of the same party is not large, but that it was only due to such variance that Fatah elected anyone aside from the set-aside seats and the six candidates that came from the three districts that Fatah swept.
Overall, the legislative dominance of the leading party is precisely what would be expected given the electoral system, unless there was wide variance in the personal votes of a party’s candidates (as was the case in Liberia’s two-seat plurality senate elections, for example). It is worth bearing in mind as we watch Israeli-Palestinian relations unfold in the coming months and years that the Palestinian electorate did not give Hamas an overwhelming victory, the electoral system did.
Posts at other blogs on related themes: Charles Franklin of Political Arithmetik has his take, including some graphs based on the same less-than-ideal data that I use, showing how close the candidates of Hamas (in particular) tended to be in votes.
And I am really honored that Mystery Pollster has not only linked to me, but quoted me! (Thanks to Charles for making that possible, by his links to my previous posts here.)
Among the many bloggers with posts discussing the broader significance of the result, I wan to call specific attention to the following: Mark Lynch at Abu Aardvark, Steven Taylor at PoliBlogger, and, as always, Jonathan Edelstein at The Head Heeb.
Lynch notes the parallels to Algeria, 1992, which became a symbol of American conditional support for democracy in Islamic countries, and also the extent to which several political-science propositions are about to be put to the test: “does power moderate or radicalize Islamist groups?,” among others.
Edelstein notes, among many interesting points, that it is possible that an electoral victory far greater than Hamas itself could ever have expected could shift the internal balance of power within the movement: “Just as Fatah is in rebellion against its old-guard Tunisian leadership, Hamas may now escape the tutelage of its Syrians. On the other hand, the internal debate may result in the parliamentary delegation becoming an instrument through which Khaled Meshaal’s hard-liners exert influence.” And Jonathan also discusses the implications for Israeli domestic politics: “Likud now has a new campaign issue and the center will probably lose some ground to the right, but most of Kadima’s voters are already convinced that there is no Palestinian negotiating partner, and Hamas’ win may actually strengthen support for further unilateral moves.” And further, he notes that the Tel Aviv stock exchange “took only minor losses when the news broke and has since rallied” … and “all the politicians and commentators are saying exactly the expected things – Eitam is blaming Hamas’ victory on the withdrawal, Beilin blames the lack of Israeli support for Abbas, and the Kadima people are saying that the election result proves the necessity of unilateral moves.”
The following started as a further comment to propagate some ideas already planted beneath the post on Palestinian exit polls. It seemed appropriate to give it a new planting of its own. It is specifically in response to the point raised by Kao Hsien Chih (welcome back to the orchard, by the way!) regarding coordination failure. And a tip of the hat to Wilfred for inspiring the idea of plurality as a genus. Why hadn’t I though of that?
[Correction, Jan. 29. The definition below of the limited vote has been fixed. Initially, Word Press took my attempt at defining mathematically "1 is less than w" as an html tag and failed to render a whole block of rather important text!]
On coordination failure, all forms of nominal plurality voting are vulnerable to it one way or another. (When I say ‘nominal’ I mean a vote given to candidates by name, and in this context mean that votes are counted only for candidates, and not pooled onto a party list. In the case of Palestine this is true for 66 district seats. There are also party-list PR seats, but they are allocated completeley separately, or in ‘parallel’ and based on a separate list vote.)
Of all the plurality species, the single nontransferable vote (SNTV) is the most prone to coordination failure, because it is not clear to a party how many candidates to run, optimally, and if it rus more than one, then the party has to find a way to spread its voters out across the candidates to ensure that they don’t pile up a lot of votes on just one. Under multi-seat plurality or block vote* (as in Palestine’s nominal tier), the nomination strategy is clear: run as many as there are seats in a district. The problem then is to ensure that your voters vote the full slate. If they do not, then you have a problem.
The “genus” plurality (which forms its own orchard block here at F&V) includes FPTP, multi-seat plurality (a.k.a. block vote), SNTV (like Taiwan’s nominal tier through 2004, and Japan formerly), and other systems.
What this genus has as its identifying trait is that all its species establish that the winners are the M candidates with the M highest individual vote shares, where M is the district magnitude (the number of seats elected in the district). Where the sepcies vary is in two things: First, of course, M. Secondly, in whether the voter has M nominal votes or less than M. Let w be the number of votes per voter.** Then the systems are:
FPTP, M=1, w=M=1
SNTV, M>1, w=1
Block vote or multi-seat plurality, M>1, w=M
Limited vote, M>1, 1< w < M (SNTV is actually a special case of limited vote, so perhaps we should say that limited vote is the species and SNTV a variety)
If some voters do not use all their votes in multi-seat plurality, then they are treating the system as though it were limited vote. This may have happened to Fatah. It certainly happened to nearly all parties in the Liberian 2-seat-plurality senate races.
If we also allow w>1 and the voter to cast more than one vote per candidate, then we have cumulative vote also as part of the same family. (However, rationally the voter ought to cumulate all on one candidate, in which case it becomes SNTV.) And if we allow w=c, where c is the number of candidates, then approval vote also is part of the family.
All of these systems provide both parties and voters with dilemmas about how to coordinate their support across multiple candidates in ways to ensure that the desired candidates and not some others are elected. In the case of FPTP, of course, the problem is not usually that a party has more than one candidate in a district; it is that multiple parties lead to coordination problems and may result in the candidate of a majority-disapproved party winning.
* Actually, the term, multi-seat plurality, is not precise, and block vote, while well established, is even less so. Consider the typical rule used in US states for the electoral college: the candidate with the plurality of votes wins the full slate of electors. That’s multi-seat plurality, and given that the votes go as a block (i.e. the voter isn’t voting for individual electors and thus cannot partially abstain or split her ticket), it could be called block vote. I prefer to call systems on the order of the US electoral college list plurality, because the list with the plurality is elected as a whole. For the type of system used in Palestine’s district races, I would prefer multiple nontransferable vote (MNTV), because that is far more descriptive of a system in which the voter has more than one vote which need not be cast as a block, and each is strictly nominal and cannot be transferred or pooled to other candidates. MNTV would be identifable as a sub-class of both the broader category of multi-seat plurality (which includes list plurality) and the broader category of nominal plurality (which includes FPTP, SNTV, etc.).
**w rather than v, as we like to use v to refer to the total number of votes cast in an election, rather than the number cast by an individual voter.
Israel’s Shinui party–which was the third largest after the last election–is in crisis. Its leader, Yosef “Tommy” Lapid resigned yesterday. Ten other Shinui MKs formally resigned from the party. Lapid’s resignation followed the election of a slate of mostly new candidates to the party list, about which he said:
While it’s true they were elected democratically, I’m not required to run on a platform with candidates I do not believe in.
The National Religious Party’s leader Zevulun Orlev took credit for the party’s split and collapse in the polls.
The NRP torpedoed any attempts by Shinui to pass civil marriage in [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon’s government.
Of course, the more important reason is that the party’s center position between Likud and Labor has been taken over by Kadima since Sharon split from the Likud.
Meanwhile, with Russian immigrants a large enough bloc of voters to swing up to 15 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, several parties are making an effort to appeal to this electorate by placing Russians in electable list ranks–annother example of parties using the ‘personal vote‘ of specific candidates as a way to attract votes even in a system where the only vote choice a voter gets is a party slate (and even in a very high-magnitude closed-list system).
the Likud is banking on having two well-known Russian candidates in realistic spots on the party list: Natan Sharansky at number 10 and Yuli Edelstein at number 15.
Kadima is also likely to have several candidates from the XSSR in “realistic” list positions.
Before Sharon’s stroke, up to a third of the Russian vote was likely to go to Kadima, but now many of these same voters are believed to be leaning back towards Likud. And Avigdor Lieberman’s sectarian Israel Beitenu party may coninue to draw a large chunk of the Russian immigrant vote.
In one of India’s largest states, West Bengal, where elections are due in the spring, the upcoming budget session of the state legislative assembly is expected to see a no-confidence motion put forward by the opposition All-India Trinamool Congress, which won 60 seats in the 2001 election. The governing Communist Party of India (Marxist) won a large plurality (143)–but not a majority–of the 294 assembly seats in that election. The significance of West Bengali politics for the federal government can hardly be overstated: Not only is the state large and important in its own right, but also the CP(M) is one of the Congress Party’s formal support partners in the multiparty minority government at the national level.
I should also note that the votes of those top two parties in 2001 split 36.6%-30.7%, or almost precisely how the Conservative and Liberal parties split this week in Canada. But the West Bengal result, while, like Canada’s, not giving one party a majority of seats, resulted in a much wider disparity between the two parties in seats: 48.6-20.4. In terms of the seat-vote equation that I discussed with respect to Canada, the West Bengali state assembly is an almost perfect comparison: almost identical in assembly size and the top two parties vote shares, but about two-and-a-half times as many voters. The West Bengali result was a greater divergence in seats between the two leading parties than we would expect, whereas the Canadian result was a smaller divergence. The reason is most likely that West Bengal (and India more generally) is a more extreme version of Canada: party fragmentation and regionalization beyond the norm for FPTP systems. All the parties in West Bengal are quite concentrated in their support, but the CP(M), as a largely urban party, has strongholds that comprise more of the districts in India’s most urban state.
What was it that I said yesterday (in the immediately previous post) about not trusting exit polls in the political and security context of Palestine? What was it I said about the multi-seat plurality races being especially hard to estimate based on exit-poll sampling, even under the best of conditions for the polling itself?
Exit polls on the night of the vote gave the ruling Fatah Party a slight victory, a finding that was dramatically reversed on Thursday when Fatah and Hamas leaders said Hamas had won a clear majority of the 132-seat legislature.
The discrepancy may have been due to a reluctance by some voters to admit to pollsters that they were abandoning the ruling party. The polling errors appeared especially glaring in district races, where smaller numbers of voters were surveyed. [my emphasis]
Not only would a smaller sample be a problem, but so would the basic process of estimating from that sample, given that a typical pattern of multi-seat plurality systems (as I have noted in more detail in past posts) is that voters do not necessarily give all their ‘nominal’ votes to candidates of the same party or even use all of the nominal votes they are entitled to use.
The story goes on to say that Hamas apparently won a “large majority” in the district races, just as I suspected they would, because their voters would be more likely to vote the full slate than would voters of the internally divided Fatah.
In fact the scale of the Hamas win in the distrists vastly exceeds what I could have imagined. Another Post story says that Hamas won nearly all of them, and 75 seats overall. Yet another story I read (at Ynet) said that Hamas might have won 80 overall.
I have not yet seen updated votes totals, but remember–the vote estimates that were reported last night from exit polls might prove to be much closer to reality than the seat results, because the nominal (district) and PR-list seats are allocated completely separately (in ‘parallel’) in Palestine’s variant of a mixed-member system. A multi-seat district plurality system–Palestine’s nominal tier–can produce wide divergence between votes and seat shares, especially when one major party has a more cohesive electorate than the other. This is precisely what I have meant in past posts when referring to the votes-seats conversion probably benefiting Hamas relative to Fatah–and that was evident even in the estimates that the exit pollsters gave.
Moreover, this electoral system is a ticket-splitter’s dream. Not only do the list votes (which surely is what the exit poll was reporting) not have to match the candidate votes, but (reiterating here) within a district voters can split among candidates of different parties.
These factors compound not only exit-poll estimation, but also any systematic real-results relationship between votes and seats.
With a clear majority in the parliament, Hamas will now have to form the government. Palestine has a semi-presidential system with a relatively strong presidency, but requires that the cabinet have the confidence of the parliament. Already, the cabinet has resigned.
I will leave it to others more versed in the Middle East to assess the significance of this result.
An exit poll by Bir Zeit University in Ramallah showed Fatah winning 63 seats in the 132-member parliament with 46.4 percent of the vote and Hamas taking 58 seats with 39.5 percent.
I would be really cautious with exit polls in an electoral system like this–even if it were a ‘normal’ environment in which people felt free to talk to people on the street asking them how they just voted. By that I mean that this electoral system–multi-seat plurality, plus list PR in parallel–means the pollster needs to know:
(1) whether the voter used all his/her votes in the nominal tier (the local multi-seat district);
(2) the identities of all the candidates he or she voted for;
(3) and the party list the voter checked.
That’s a lot of moving parts for each interviewee. And then the exit-polling company has to extrapolate from a sample and somehow generate a national allocation. That involves lots of assumptions about how completely other similar voters filled out their slate of candidates in the nominal tier. In general, multi-seat plurality races are very hard to predict because small vote shifts for individual candidates can make substantial differences in the outcome of the election in a district. It is not as though the outcome can be extrapolated just from knowing the party a voter preferred when the voter has more than one vote and can use all or none of them and spread them out on candidates of multiple parties or concentrate them all on one party.
Wow, if the exit pollsters get it right other than by just luck, I will be really impressed!
OK, so let’s assume I will be impressed–really impressed–and the projection is about right (for all I know it might be). Then the advantage ratio for the second largest party (Hamas) exceeds that of the largest party (Fatah). The advantage ratio tells us how over-/under-represented a given party is, and is calculated as %seat/%votes.
For Fatah, 47.8% of the seats on 46.4% of the votes would mean an advantage ratio of 1.03. For Hamas 43.9% of the seats on 39.5% of the votes would be 1.11.
On December 28, after surveying the electoral system, I said that this is the sort of electoral system that would manufacture a majority for a party of around 45% if that party’s voters tended to vote the full slate in the multi-seat districts. However, given divisions in Fatah, I doubted that would happen. Referring to the factions in Fatah that re-united only after the deadline for registering candidates was extended, I noted:
Again, I think we need to be cautious about projections from these exit polls. But if the results are relatively close to the projection, it would show this very unusual electoral system working pretty much as expected, given the different levels of unity of the two largest parties.
Many more details, of course, at The Head Heeb, where Jonathan expects the final seat tally for Hamas to be closer to that of Fatah than is the case in the projection. If he is correct, and if the votes projection is fairly accurate, then the final result would be an even greater advantage to the more unified Hamas in votes-to-seats conversion. (And I would expect the final votes to vary less from the exit-poll projection than the final seats would, because I assume the votes being projected are the party-list votes. These, being a single choice for each voter and pooled nationwide, are not subject to the difficulties mentioned above for the nominal tier, aside from normal sampling error and potential interviewing bias.)
Also see Political Artithmetik for district-level comparisons of the turnout in this election and last year’s presidential election.
The Houston Chronicle, on January 21, ran an editorial that suggested increasing the size of the US House as an alternative to the proposal by a Michigan congress member to exclude non-citizens (whether legal resident or not) from the apportionment of House seats. And, yes, I am cited in the piece and, yes, the reporter (Cragg Hines) found me via F&V.
I highly recommend Charles Franklin’s overview of polling and the actual election outcome at Political Arithmetik. He notes that the polls were generally quite accurate, although they underestimated the Liberal vote by about three percentage points. He also has a terrific historical votes-seats graph for Canada.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4