Friday, November 5, 2010

Ranked Choice Voting does its job.

For several election cycles, the mayor of Oakland has become the Senior Tour of California politics. Instead of giving the job to somebody from the city council, we have had retreads from Washington or Sacramento winning the very tough job by name recognition alone. First it was Jerry Brown, who did kind of okay, then Ron Dellums, who is viewed as a disaster. This year, Don Perata, formerly a President pro tempore of the State Senate and currently a lobbyist for the Prison Guards Union, easily the most corrupt union of state employees, was trying to get the gig. He spent the most money and was always the leader in the polls, but like a lot of politicians with name recognition, he had both high positives and high negatives. More than that, his name was linked with the return of the Raiders to Oakland, a move that stinks to this day of back room politics.

The ballot had ten names and a place for write-in votes, but the system now in place is Ranked Choice Voting, which I have written about before here.

Perata's money and clout gave him the first place position after the first round of voting, but those negatives were still a worry for his campaign. The completely corrupt San Francisco Chronicle supported his run, but the East Bay papers threw their support behind three candidates, a number chosen cleverly since Ranked Choice Voting lets you choose three candidates. That lucky triumvirate was made up of councilpeople Jean Quan and Rebecca Kaplan and political science professor Joe Tuman. Both the Oakland Tribune and the East Bay Express gave their endorsement to all three.

On the first ballot, Perata had a commanding lead.

Perata 34.0%
Quan 24.6%
Kaplan 21.5%
Tuman 12.4%
Others 7.6%

Because Tuman was so far behind, he had no chance to catch Kaplan, and by the time the small fry were re-distributed, Tuman trailed the Top Three by a little more.

Perata 36.1%
Quan 27.1%
Kaplan 23.3%
Tuman 13.6%

Perata still looked to have a commanding lead, but the voters for the other three understood the system remarkably well. As Tuman's votes were redistributed, the big boost went to Kaplan, but it wasn't enough to catch Quan.

Perata 40.2% (up 4.1%)
Quan 31.0% (up 3.9%)
Kaplan 28.8% (up 5.3%)

Going into the last round, Perata was still on Easy Street. If even one in three of Kaplan's supporters switched to Perata, he would be the next mayor. Instead, Quan got 75% of Kaplan's votes that weren't exhausted and ended up with 51.1% of the remaining vote. The word had been spread. If you vote for one of the other three, don't vote for Perata. He spent a boatload of dirty money and he ended up in second place.

I don't think Quan will be a miracle worker. She was in fact my second choice, but I am every bit as happy that Don Perata will not be my mayor as I am that Meg Whitman will not be my governor and Carly Fiorina will not be my senator.

Plagues on all their houses and ashes in all their mouths would be just dandy with me.

Dig up all their fields and salt the earth.

Other Biblical and Shakespearean invectives are implied.

Best of luck to Her Honor Jean Quan.


Peregrin said...

I seriously like this system. It would let the third-partiers vent some steam and still not give their vote to the more evil side.

namastenancy said...

I'm very glad that the more corrupt candidate didn't win - and here's hoping that Ms. Quan can tackle some of Oakland's more pressing problems. We also have an Asian-American as the new supervisor for District 6 (where I live). I know nothing about her as she ran a very low key campaign as opposed to the "official" candidate for the Democratic Party who plastered our neighborhoods with tons and tons of paper! I sure hope that both of our "hoods" get better government as both ladies look smart and committed to helping solve problems.

sfmike said...

Is it "Rank Choice" or "Ranked Choice"? You're the official expert so I'll go with your usage, though "Rank Choice" sounds unfortunately like "Rotten Choice" to me. Glad one of your least favorite politicos is not going to be your new/old mayor.

Matty Boy said...

You are correct, Mike. It's Ranked Choice Voting. We used the acronym RCV so much, I forgot the correct first word. I will go back and make the necessary corrections.

sfmike said...

Dear Matty: Whew.