On April 20, the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation released an in-depth survey finding that 61% of Americans favor using ranked choice voting in federal elections.
The 1,296 respondents participated in a “policymaking simulation,” complete with a briefing on RCV and an opportunity to weigh in on arguments in favor and against. They were then asked to make a final recommendation on whether RCV should be used in federal elections. Some key findings include:
Positive Responses to Pro-RCV Arguments
Large, bipartisan majorities found all three “pro-RCV” arguments convincing. Both Republicans (65%) and Democrats (82%) responded most positively to the argument that “Ranked choice voting has been tried in a number of states and cities… [and] ranking candidates from first to last is simple.”
Independents (71%) responded most positively to the argument that “ranked choice voting makes it possible for voters to vote for the candidate they most support, without worrying they’ll be throwing away their vote.”
The “anti-RCV” arguments were all found convincing by less than half of respondents. The least convincing argument (42%) was a “status quo” statement that discouraged changing our current election system and downplayed RCV’s potential impact.
61% Support RCV in Federal Elections as “Final Recommendation”
After evaluating the pro & con arguments, participants were asked to make a final recommendation on whether RCV should be used in federal elections. 73% of Democrats and 55% of independents said yes.
Though majorities of Republican participants were receptive to all three “pro-RCV” arguments, they were split on the final recommendation – with 49% in favor.
Notably, majorities in all types of congressional districts supported RCV – from 56% in “very red” districts to 63% in “very blue” districts.
Support Among Young Voters
Support for RCV was highest among voters ages 18-34. More than two-thirds (68%) supported a move to RCV for federal elections. Within that age group, a majority of Republicans (55%) also favored RCV for federal elections.
Combined with past poll results (83% of voters under 30 supported a 2020 effort to enact RCV statewide in Massachusetts) and the use of RCV on approximately 90 college campuses, this bodes well for the future of reform.