It’s clear ranked choice voting (RCV) is hugely beneficial for the voter, but its appeal to candidates makes it a win-win across the board. From time and money saved, campaign positivity, bipartisan incentives, and a chance to demonstrate broad support, RCV undoubtedly benefits candidates. Fortunately, the motivations of RCV for candidates translate to voters.
Saving Money and Time
The first major benefit to RCV is that it saves candidates time and money by eliminating runoffs. After spending an immense amount of money and time in just the general election, runoffs only pose more time on the campaign trail and thousands to millions of dollars in spending.
For example, earlier this year, Georgia’s Senate runoffs proved to be astronomically pricey. In the Ossoff-Perdue contest, the campaigns spent nearly $470 million, garnering it the title of most expensive Senate race of all time. In the other race, candidates Raphael Warnock and Kelly Loeffler’s campaign price tags exceeded a combined $365 million.
Opting for an instant-runoff race eliminates these costly races, and candidates end up spending less money and time campaigning, allowing them more time to govern.
Ability to Freely Run
RCV can also allow candidates to have more freedom when they decide to run. With RCV, there is no spoiler effect, so candidates can run without fear of splitting the vote.
Often in plurality races, candidates don't run because they think it may end up hurting the chances of their platform or representation winning. This issue disproportionately affects women and BIPOC candidates who are told to 'wait their turn' or make space for other candidates.
With RCV, the possibilities of running are endless, and candidates don't have to strategically stunt their own goals of aiding their community for fear of splitting the vote.
In addition to saving money, RCV reduces the prevalence of character assassination on the campaign trail. A system that relies on ranking candidates rather than just choosing one means that candidates don’t feel pressured to “go negative.” In fact, candidates in RCV elections often endorse each other, hoping that the winner will be the next best candidate for their district if they don’t get elected.
In the largest city-wide American RCV race to date, mayoral candidates Andrew Yang and Kathryn Garcia employed a coalition strategy, which likely gave Garcia a solid bump, leaving her less than a percentage away from winning the primary.
RCV allows and incentivizes candidates to play nice, endorse one another, and stop the mudslinging that’s so ever-present in modern politics. But better than just having more orderly elections, it frees candidates to cooperate across the aisle once elected.
After a clean campaign that includes less name-calling, slander, and detachment from the issues, it’s possible and likely for candidates to turn around and work with their fellow representatives, no matter their political affiliation. Across the aisle work means a gridlock-free, robust democratic system passing necessary policy.
One underrated benefit of ranked choice voting - more people say “I voted for you” on the street. 😀👍— Andrew Yang🧢🗽🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) July 9, 2021
Broad Support Mandate
But beyond just ease of campaigns increasing for candidates and voters, RCV offers candidates a chance to demonstrate they are the truly popular, representative choice.
A winning candidate might win with just 30 or 40 percent of the vote in plurality races, meaning they might face questions about whether they reflect the electorate. However, a winning RCV candidate enters office with proof that they had broad constituent support because they needed to reach 50% of votes to win.
An RCV candidate can prove they represent their constituents more easily than a plurality candidate can because they’re shown to have a certain level of support and popularity to govern.
Ranked choice voting provides a level of ease to candidates and voters that is long overdue and also prioritizes fair and efficient governing.