Count'em Up - Poll Results for MA CD3

Great participation in this "Rank’em Up" poll!

Over 1200 people participated in this Ranked Choice Voting poll for the 2018 Massachusetts Congressional District 3 contest. 55% of participants ranked multiple candidates.

Big thanks to all who voted, and a great debt to OpaVote for providing their fantastic, truly comprehensive polling application to allow us to conduct this poll using Ranked Choice Voting. Thank you to this exciting group of candidates for running!

The Results

Disclaimers

Poll based on a non-scientific, non-representative participant sample -- see disclaimers below***. Also, there are still four months until the primary and six months until the general election. Candidates are still working hard to get their messages out and anything can happen!

First round results before instant runoffs

Analysis of first round poll results

Tight Race

The first round of the RCV poll results, based on voters' first-choice rankings of candidates, show a very competitive race with 5 candidates between 12% and 16% of first choice votes.

Risk of a Low-Support Winner

If this poll were a plurality race like the real CD3 Democratic primary election -- where a candidate can win by just having more votes than any other candidate  -- the winner would have less than 16% -- far less than a majority. This is not a satisfying or effective way of determining one of the major party nominees to be the next representative in US Congress for Massachusetts District 3. Having so many candidates to choose from should be a bonanza for voters. Instead in our current plurality election system, a competitive race with many candidates can result in a winner that lacks majority support, and who may even be elected almost randomly by luck of having fewer or weaker similar candidates to split votes with than their competitors.

"Strategic Voting" Headaches

In Massachusetts' current plurality elections, when there are more than two candidates running and you cannot rank candidates but can only pick one, voters often are faced with a real dilemma of "strategic voting". You want to support the candidate who you like best. However, it is often not clear that your favorite candidate has a good chance of winning, and you want your vote to count towards actually electing a representative that is more aligned with your interests than the likely alternative, and so there is a pressure to use your vote for a perceived front runner rather than vote for the candidate you truly like best. When there are candidates with highly divergent views running, and some the voter really does not like, this situation is often referred to as voting for the "lesser of evils". Even in a primary where candidates may be generally similar, strategic voting pressure is a serious pain-point that voters do not need and by distorting how voters express what they want at the ballot box, makes the political process less responsive to voter interests. 

See this article in Commonwealth magazine for more discussion of the unnecessary challenges we face in the CD3 contest because of our current plurality election system. 

RCV to the rescue - How it works

  • Poll participants did not have to deal with strategic voting dilemmas -- with a Ranked Choice ballot, they just listed their favorites in order -- first choice, second choice, third choice. It is so easy that 20% of respondents ranked all fourteen candidates!
  • Using RCV, we count the votes as a series of “Instant Runoffs”. 
  • In each round of runoffs, we eliminate the last place candidate and count their ballots instead for the next highest choice that each of their voters indicated.
  • This was only round one, and with RCV we will not stop the runoffs and declare a winner until a candidate has majority support.
  • For more detail on how this is done, see this instructional video in which the City of Minneapolis demonstrates how RCV is used to elect their mayor.

Fast forward to round ten

The race tightens to 5 candidates with between about 18% - 22%, with 3 candidates within 1% of each other. Still a tight race, still no majority winner.

And the winner of this MA CD3 RCV poll is...

RCV allows us to see which candidate wins with a majority of support among voters expressing a preference. The closeness of the race meant it took thirteen rounds (immediately calculated by computer ) to determine that winner.

Congratulations to Alexandra Chandler, who won with a solid base of dedicated, first-choice supporters, as well as many high rankings from supporters of other candidates. This suggests that her message has been able to resonate broadly amongst the poll participants.

Round-by-Round Results

See full detailed poll results and how votes are counted using Ranked Choice Voting

Insights

  • Tight Race This appears to be a very competitive race!
  • Strong Winner The winner of this poll had very solid support, being the first choice of many voters, plus having the broadest base of support.
  • Easy Voting Most poll voters discovered that RCV is simple as 1-2-3, first choice, second choice, third choice,  etc... No more "strategic voting" headaches!
  • Voter Education Many of our poll participants are just learning about RCV, and may not have yet realized the benefits - and no risks! - of ranking multiple candidates. That will all change when Massachusetts adopts Ranked Choice Voting and commits to a program of voter education, as has successfully occurred in all other jurisdictions adopting RCV. Voters who could have ranked more choices but did not, especially those who ranked only one candidate, might have altered the course of the poll had they expressed additional  preferences.
  • RCV Works Voters in this RCV poll were able to honestly express their preferences for the candidates in this crowded field. Ranked Choice Voting determined the majority winner.
  • MA Needs RCV All the sadder that RCV will not be used in either the Democratic primary this September, or the CD3 general election this November!  Instead, we’ll be awaiting results of the inevitable plurality winner, shaking our heads over results like, “this candidate with 16.3% edged out that one with 15.9%, followed closely by that other one with 15.7%...”  Doesn’t sound right, or fair, to you?

Get involved today with Voter Choice Massachusetts to make RCV the reality in 2020, not the dream!

***Disclaimer Detail

  • Poll not likely to accurately reflect actual voters who will turn out in Fall primary and general elections for US Congressional District 3.
  • Poll distributed through facebook to facebook members over the age of 18 in Congressional District 3 with some political interests.
  • The poll was also boosted to Voter Choice MA supporters in Congressional District 3 and broadly to our smaller number of Twitter followers.
  • Some candidates also promoted the post to some level amongst their followers.
  • From this, results likely to skew somewhat towards facebook users, current Voter Choice MA supporters, and may overall skew somewhat towards politically aware people.
  • Online polling technology used has rudimentary features to prevent abuse of the poll, but is far from fully secure.