Saturday, February 22, 2020


Yastreblyansky seems to agree:
There's a lot of talk right now about Sanders inevitably winning the nomination because he seems to have a plurality of the support, somewhere around 30% overall and 15 or 20 points or more over all the other contenders, and I continue to be unclear how that's supposed to work: it looks there's a ceiling around there and a pretty large majority of Democrats would seriously prefer not to vote for him, if they could unite or "gather" around some other figure, which is not looking too good at the moment. Still, there's a similar percentage, maybe not so big, of people who seriously don't want to vote for Biden, and a bigger one of those who would rather not vote for Buttigieg. But hardly anybody is saying they won't vote for Elizabeth Warren. If we had ranked choice voting in the primary, I think she'd very likely win. She's sort of like the inverse of Yogi Berra's comment on the place where nobody ever goes because it's too crowded; everybody loves her but they won't vote for her because she's too unpopular.
Does Sanders really have a ceiling? Would he lose if he weren't facing a divided opposition? One poll says no.

But who would win if voters could choose candidates on ranked-choice ballots, which would allow Sanders haters to rank him last and to upvote candidates other than their favorites (and would allow haters of the other candidates to do the same)? Would Warren really be the first, second, or third choice of most voters, and possibly finish first in a ranked-choice system?

Pollsters should be asking this now.

As FiveThirtyEight notes, the most likely outcome right now is that no candidate will have a majority of pledged delegates going into the convention. I think if Sanders (or another candidate) has a solid lead, most voters will want the nomination to go to the leader. Team Sanders seems to believe that Sanders should win if he has any lead and any percentage of total delegates, even if the percentage is well under 40%. There's really no one outside the current candidate field who could unite most of the factions, except maybe Michelle Obama or Oprah Winfrey, and they don't want to run.

So let's do some ranked-choice polling -- not just asking first and second choices in caucus-state polling, but asking for a full ranking of the candidates from every respondent. And because future candidate fields will probably be large more often than not, and there are likely to be strong ideological disagreements within the party for the foreseeable future, let's seriously consider ranked-choice voting for future primaries. It's not perfect, but we'll have a clearer sense of who can unite the party.

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