Voices & Choices

Election forecasters don’t take RCV into account when making predictions

Election forecasters don’t take RCV into account when making predictions

All eyes look to Maine’s 2nd Congressional District race, where ranked choice voting will be the deciding factor. However, RCV was largely ignored among pre-election forecasts.

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Seven major election forecasters—The New York Times, FiveThirtyEight, Inside Elections, The Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, The Economist and Politico—did not take RCV into account when making their predictions. However, The New York Times and Politico did acknowledge that ranked choice voting was used when reporting election results. Two of the four polls aggregated by RealClearPolitics asked voters which candidate was their second choice. The Bangor Daily News provided readers with a visualization of how RCV determined the winners in its June primaries.

Because the majority of districts are so heavily gerrymandered, many elections were won with outright majorities. But this was not the case in Maine’s 2nd District, where each of the major party nominees earned about 46 percent of the vote. Thanks to the ranked choice voting protections against a plurality outcome, the winner will be determined by voters’ second and third choices.

Maine’s historic and successful rollout of ranked choice voting paves the way for its implementation in other states. As RCV becomes more popular and understood, we hope forecasters will factor RCV into their methodology before elections take place.  


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