Voices & Choices

“Ranked Choice” Poll Reveals Better Ways to Gauge Democratic Voter Preferences in Crowded Presidential Field

“Ranked Choice” Poll Reveals Better Ways to Gauge Democratic Voter Preferences in Crowded Presidential Field

The Democratic primary season is heating up as we head into Super Tuesday. Conflicting narratives on the nature of the still-crowded field’s divided support and questions over which candidate would be strongest nominee in the general election dominate the conversation. Now, FairVote has commissioned a SurveyUSA poll to help shed light on these questions, with ranked choice voting (RCV) providing new insights.

Our poll was fairly short, asking respondents to rank the eight remaining candidates in order of choice, to assess what odds they felt each candidate would have against President Trump in November, and whether they thought ranked choice voting should be used in more presidential primaries.

With such a crowded field, asking for choices beyond each respondents’ favorite is critical. Like most recent polls, ours shows Senator Sanders leading with a plurality of first choices. However, eliminating candidates one-by-one, as if it were a ranked choice voting election, demonstrates that Joe Biden remains within the margin of error of beating Sanders head-to-head, with Sanders narrowly leading 51-49.

The questions regarding the likelihood of beating Trump show how divided Democratic voters really are. Supporters of nearly every candidate say that every other candidate has a less than 50% chance of winning in November - the sole exception being supporters of Senator Warren, who believe, on average, that Sanders has about even odds of beating President Trump.

As for RCV, that is one issue in which respondents agree: Presidential primaries should be conducted by RCV. This year, four states will use RCV in their presidential primaries, allowing them many of the benefits of caucuses without voters needing to spend hours away from work or family commitments in order to be heard.


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