On June 26, Ronald Reagan won AOL’s “Greatest American” online poll, receiving 24% of the vote. Abraham Lincoln received 23.56%, Martin Luther King Jr. won 19.7%, George Washington received 17.7%, and Benjamin Franklin won 14.9% of the vote.
Chosen by such a slim margin in a highly fractured field of candidates, Reagan might not reflect the choices of the majority. In fact, 76% of voters chose another candidate than Reagan as their first choice. Next year, AOL should consider using a system of instant runoff voting (IRV), which would require voters to rank as many candidates as they chose, and would produce a consensus candidate with majority support. IRV is currently used by Academy of Motion Pictures to decide nominations for the Oscars.
[See FairVote’s press release]
[How IRV works]