This week the New York Times endorsed two candidates for the Democratic nomination for president: Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar. The decision to endorse two candidates with different bases of support has drawn a number of critics.
But setting aside whether Warren and Klobuchar were the best candidates to support, the Times editorial board’s decision reflects an important insight: the primary season is designed to allow parties to build consensus around a nominee chosen from a large field.
No candidate has even 30 percent support in most national and state polls, which means relatively few Democrats will help nominate their first choice. In this era of increasingly crowded fields and extreme political polarization, it’s more timely than ever to think outside of the "single-choice box.” Let’s change rules and processes to reflect that we both have a range of views and must find some common ground.
Endorsing two candidates also has practical significance. Iowa and Nevada are among the first three states to hold nomination contests. Participants in their caucuses will be able to support a backup candidate if their first choice falls short of the 15 percent threshold of support needed to win delegates. That means backers of Klobuchar or Warren in most caucuses may end up having a chance to back the other.
In Nevada, early voters will cast a ranked choice voting ballot -- that is, indicating a first choice, a second choice and so on -- so they can be integrated into the in-person caucus voting where people physically move to a backup choice. Notably, all Democrats later in the spring in Alaska, Hawaii, Kansas, and Wyoming will vote in ranked choice voting contests by mail, as we explain in our new voter education pages on these states.
So the Times is just ahead of the curve, perhaps reflecting its recent editorials backing ranked choice voting nationally and in New York City. In ranked choice voting contests, it’s quite common for editorial writers to make a ranked order list of endorsements -- reflecting what voters can do as well.
We’ll be working hard over the coming years to ensure all voters in all parties can have a ranked choice ballot in their elections -- with presidential primaries being perhaps the most obvious place of all for such a better ballot.