An Actual Mayoral Poll with a Ranked Choice Outcome Shows the Pathway for a Vote – You Can See the Process in Action

In today’s blog post, I am going to offer some guidance on ranked choice voting so you’ll be sure your vote truly counts, including enabling you to see a ranked choice pathway to an election outcome.

The New York Post reported the release of a NYC Democratic primary mayoral poll on May 12th which included a ranked choice voting outcome for all the mayoral candidates, not just who was being selected first by potential Democratic primary voters. Candidates Adams and Yang received 19% and 16% of first place votes, still far from the 50% + 1 vote to become the winner, and voters understand enough about ranked choice voting to know there will be a continuous sorting to produce the winner. But what a sorting process might actually look like has rarely been seen by voters.

I publish a part of this poll because it offers the ordinary voter an understanding of how the vote allocation process works to finally produce a winner.

By the way, this post is not about me trying to drive your vote to one candidate or another. A candidate is a potential winner if you vote for them; no one can predict how this process will work. Everyone should vote in the order of who they really want. But everyone should understand that they should not put someone they don’t want at all in their line-up. If you fill in an oval for a candidate you actually don’t want at all, your vote could still be allocated to them if all your other choices fall out as the final sort ultimately produces just four, three, or two candidates left. Of course, you don’t have to vote for five candidates.

This poll was actually conducted for the Corey Johnson for Comptroller campaign from a sample of 1422 likely Democratic voters between May 6th and May 9th, 2021. It has Comptroller and Public Advocate results as well and the full poll can be viewed here . During the poll, the New York Times endorsed Kathryn Garcia, the City’s former Sanitation Commissioner, for Mayor. Following the endorsement, Garcia’s standing improved, but about two-thirds of the respondents had already been sampled. Change Research published poll results from both before and after the New York Times endorsement. I chose to produce here the post-NYT endorsement results because there were 418 voters who responded after the NYT endorsement of Garcia, a large enough sample for a meaningful representation of the electorate. Once again, it’s just a poll. How the debates, the ads, the drive and energy of the campaigns, and events beyond anyone’s control affect the final result all remain to be determined. The purpose here is to show the pathway to an outcome:

Here I choose to discuss how your vote selections work as the pathway to an outcome develops.

I start with the second round because respondents in the poll whose initial preference was undecided picked someone in the second round. Let’s say you voted for Raymond McGuire as your 1st choice; McGuire holds on through six rounds but ends up in last place in the sixth round. Your vote would be reallocated to your second choice if that choice was any of the remaining candidates above McGuire in the sixth round ( Wiley, Stringer, Garcia, Adams, Yang). If your second choice had been someone already eliminated, your third choice would be allocated your vote, if anyone of those five just mentioned was still in the running. If your third choice was Kathryn Garcia, your vote would stay with her until she was eliminated. If she made the top two, it would stay there. In the simulation above, Garcia is eliminated after the 8th round. At that point, your vote would be allocated to your fourth choice. If neither Yang or Adams, the remaining candidates, was your fourth choice, then your vote would be allocated to your fifth choice. If neither Yang or Adams was your fifth choice, your vote would not be reallocated and the result would be that your vote went to someone (in this case, Garcia), who came in third.

Remember- that simulation is not a predictor of the real outcome; it was just a poll. This is just showing you a process of how your vote gets reallocated among different candidates. You should vote for who you want, in the order of preference you want. My advice is to vote for who you want, in order. In your final choices, be sure not to vote for someone you really do not want. If there is someone in your fourth or fifth choices who you can tolerate, that is when you should consider a “last resort’ vote.

If your first choice doesn’t make it, your vote for a candidate who remains in the top tier to the very end will stick if and until that candidate is eliminated, and your vote will still count as long as it is one of the remaining candidates.

Counting the vote could still face delays similar to last year’s primaries for Congress and other elections. The City Board of Elections has selected a vendor with special software to tabulate the complex sorting involved with ranked choice voting, but the State Board of Elections has yet to approve the vendor. If not approved, the City Board will have to sort the votes by hand, a process that would take many weeks before we would find out who won the Mayoral nomination and the other offices.

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