Voices & Choices

Democracy for America's Creative Use of Ranked Choice Voting

Democracy for America's Creative Use of Ranked Choice Voting
The organization Democracy for America recently conducted an internal, online "pulse poll" for likely 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidates.

Unlike "vote-for-one" polls, which often serve only to show fractured results, DFA let its members rank all candidates in order of preference.

On its results page, it shows the results if you look only at first-choices. However, you can click on any candidate to see how polling might look without that candidate in the race. It accomplishes this by recounting that candidates' votes for their second choices.

In a ranked choice voting election as conducted in a number of elections today, including several California Bay Area cities and the largest cities in Minnesota and Maine, a candidate wins by achieving a majority of the active ballots, with weaker candidates removed round-by-round until the strongest winner can be identified.

Instead, this poll allows you to see the results if any candidates are removed in any order, which cleverly allows you to see what polling might look like if only a certain subset of candidates were in the race.

This poll clearly shows Elizabeth Warren winning, with Bernie Sanders coming in second. An even more interesting use of this method would be in Republican internal polls, like those conducted at CPAC. The Republican field currently is particularly fractured and would benefit greatly from the use of ranked choice voting polls.

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