RCV Candidate Tip #2: the Road to 50%+1

This is the second of our weekly tips about campaigning under Ranked Choice Voting. It’s helpful to carefully consider your plan to make it to the winning threshold of 50% plus one vote.


First-Choice Votes


No matter the number of candidates in your race, first-choice votes are the most important, and a top focus for your campaign should be to maximize the number of first-choice votes you receive. If you can persuade more than 50% of the voters to chose you as their first choice, the lower rankings do not come into play and you win. Even if you cannot win on first-choice votes alone, a substantial share will still be necessary to stay in the race.


Lower-Choice Votes


If there are three or more candidates in your race, it’s wise to prepare for lower-choice votes to play a role in determining the winner. Especially if looks like there is a chance you may not receive 50% of the first-choice votes, you should think about how you can win the second-choice votes from those committed to supporting your opponents. A good place to start is to think about what you share in common with any of your opponents and what messages will appeal to their supporters in order for you to earn a second-choice vote.


Remember that in a multicandidate race if the lower-choice votes from supporters of eliminated candidates break overwhelmingly against you, it’s possible to initially receive a plurality of first-choice votes and still fail to win. Your best chance to ensure this does not happen is to have an active strategy and effort to secure these lower-choice votes.


How Tracking Can Help You Measure This


Making a point to ask voters about their plan for a second- and even third-choice vote can help you greatly, especially when they indicate that their first choice vote will go to another candidate. A careful effort to collect this information about lower-choice preferences consistently throughout your voter contact activities can help you estimate how you may perform beyond the initial count of first-choice votes. If you have the resources, conducting a more systematic poll with questions about first-, second- and lower-choice votes can give you a clearer picture of this as well. The earlier you can begin to identify these trends, the more effectively you can tailor your campaign activities to secure these lower-choice votes.


Attached is a resource that can also help you in this effort. If you are at the stage of using general estimates of how you may perform in later counting, but would like to consider several scenarios of how you can make it above 50%, the RCV Scenarios Worksheet should be a good start. If you have been collecting a large number of IDs from voters on rankings from your voter contact activities, please ask me to send you our RCV Advanced Scenarios Calculator. It can provide some more detail of how the final counting could end up but can be more intimidating to use. I am happy to talk you or a member of your campaign team through either of these resources.


In case you missed it, here’s a link to last week’s tip.

RCV 50% + 1 Scenarios Worksheet.xlsx10.96 KB