“Trump Wins Nevada by a Clear Margin” read one headline. “Emphatic Victory for Trump” was another.
The small print revealed that Donald Trump had won the Nevada Republican caucus with only 46% of the votes but commentators recorded it as a good victory for him.
And so it most often is in First Past the Post elections. After all he did better than the Liberal Party that won the Canadian General Election last year with only 39.5% of the votes or the Conservative Party that won the UK General Election last year with a mere 36.9%.
A more realistic headline could have been “54% vote against Trump” or “Voters reject Trump but system makes him winner”.
So how did he win when most voted against him? The 54%, who voted against him, split their votes between the other candidates. The same thing happens, although with different figures, in most UK General Election constituencies.
If the Republicans of Nevada had used the Alternative Vote (AV) – Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) as it is known in the USA – the winner would have represented the majority of voters.
The winner might have been someone else or might still have been Donald Trump but, either way, the election would have been seen to be fair and the result would have represented the wish of the voters.
Although Single Transferable Vote (STV) is the best way to elect a representative body, AV (IRV in the USA) is the best way to elect an individual.