Campaign Analysis

Coalition Building on Display in Mayoral & City Council Races

The mayoral race and several city council races were notable for candidates’ use of coalition-building RCV campaign strategies. In ranked choice voting, candidates are competing to be voters’ second and third choice as well as their first. This means that cross-endorsements can help candidates build coalitions outside of their traditional base to expand their outreach and improve their chances of winning. This is exactly what we saw when Andrew Yang endorsed Kathryn Garcia as a second choice in the mayoral race.

The Yang and Garcia coalition strategy came late in the election, after the start of early voting, but likely helped Garcia to pull ahead of Maya Wiley to earn a place in the final round where Garcia ultimately finished within one point of Eric Adams. 

The impact of the coalition strategy is apparent when examining how ballots were transferred when Yang was eliminated in the sixth round.  


Ballots Transferred to Finalist Candidates Upon Andrew Yang’s Elimination (Excluding Inactive Ballots) yang-garcia alliance550334no0border:none;allowfullscreen

 *Data averaged from two RCV polls: An Emerson Poll (in the field June 15-16), and a Citizen Data/Fairvote RCV Poll (in the field June 14-17).


Garcia and Yang made their first joint campaign appearance on June 19th. When comparing their polling averages prior to June 19 with the election results from June 22, Garcia increases her standing with Yang voters by nearly eleven percentage points. Meanwhile, Adams and Wiley each underperformed the polls’ predictions with Yang supporters.

While Garcia ultimately fell short, she and Yang demonstrated how cooperation, coalition, and asking for voters’ second and third choice votes can impact the outcome of an election. 

Candidates in other New York City races also campaigned together or cross-endorsed each other. Several candidates in the Democratic primary for Richmond Borough President informally worked together, with candidate Cesar Vargas explaining, “I think ranked-choice voting has made (the campaign) more collegial… I can see my competitor not just as a candidate to compete against me, but also as someone who can also support me by working with his community because I can do the same for him, because at the end of the day he or she can be part of my voters’ options.” 

Sandra Nurse in council district 37 collaborated with other campaigns for training events or literature distribution and went on to win the nomination. 

Candidates who campaigned together or cross-endorsed but were not successful in their races include Rebecca Lamorte and Billy Freeland in district 5, Sara Lind and Jeffrey Omura in district 6, five candidates in district 7 who used the Twitter hashtag “#RankUs1Thru5”, Nabaraj KC and Austin Shafran in district 19, seven candidates in district 20 who united in an unsuccessful attempt to oust an establishment-backed candidate, Debra Markell and Harpreet Toor in district 23, Elizabeth Adams in council district 33 and, Scott Murphy and Andy Marte in district 34.


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