“Maine Ranked-Choice Voting as a Case of Electoral-System Change”

Jack Santucci has written this article for Representation. Here is the abstract:

Ranked-choice voting (RCV) manufactures an electoral majority in a fragmented candidate field. For RCV to pass at referendum, part of a reform coalition must be willing to lose election to the other part of that coalition, typically an out-of-power major party. A common enemy enables this sort of coalition by assuring (a) the out-of-power party of sufficient transfer votes to win and (b) a winner that junior reform partners prefer to the incumbent. I test this logic against the November 2016 adoption of RCV in Maine. First, I show that the most recent, runner-up party overwhelmingly supplied votes to the ‘yes’ side. I also show elite endorsements tending to come from this party, albeit not exclusively. Then I show a drift in the mass of public opinion, such that reform partners could coordinate. RCV is likely to find favour where voter preferences are polarised and lopsided, and where multiple candidates split the larger ideological bloc.

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