RCV Civility Project

The Ranked Choice Voting Civility Project

In 2013, FairVote received a generous grant from the Democracy Fund to conduct a comprehensive two-year study of the impact of ranked choice voting (RCV) on campaign cooperation and civility in local elections in the U.S. The project involves two large public opinion surveys, content analysis of media coverage and candidate communications, and analysis of voter turnout and error data, for the 2013 and 2014 elections. 

Public Opinion on Ranked Choice Voting

As part of the project, the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, with Professor Caroline J. Tolbert (University of Iowa) and Professor Todd Donovan (Western Washington University), conducted two rigorous independent opinion polls exploring voters' experiences in local campaigns and elections.

For more information on how the surveys were conducted, download our survey methodology document.

Content Analysis of Media Coverage and Candidate Communications

In the second stream of the RCV Civility Project, Professor Martha Kropf, at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, used content analysis techniques to explore the sentiment--the levels of positivity, negativity, anger etc--expressed in local newspaper coverage of elections in RCV and non-RCV cities. Professor Kropf also examined  the content of candidate tweets to explore the sentiment and the manner in which candidates communicated with other candidates on Twitter in cities using RCV compared to cities that used plurality voting. 

Analysis of Voter Turnout and Error

In the third stream of the RCV Civility Project, Professor David Kimball, at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and Ph.D. candidate Joseph Anthony studied voter turnout in 26 American cities across 79 elections. Using a difference-in-differences research design, the study compares cities that adopted RCV against those that did not adopt RCV to observe how voter turnout changed over time in general elections and primaries. They also explore how the proportion of residual votes changed in the two types of city. 

Kimball and Anthony also delve deeper, using the case-study of Minneapolis, Minnesota to investigate the impact of RCV on voter turnout inequities. 


Reports and detailed findings from the RCV Civility Project are available on the "Ranked Choice Voting - The American Experience" page. 

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