Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Comes out in Favor of RCV or Runoff Elections for Primaries


According to current polling, the winner of the Republican primary for Pennsylvania Governor will receive less than a third of the vote. And on the U.S. Senate side, no major poll has a single candidate winning more than a quarter.

This means that QAnon darling state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, will likely win the GOP nod for governor, while election denier Kathy Barnette has a strong chance to pick up the Senate bid. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. In an age of polarization and fringe candidates, when a radicalized minority can commandeer a party’s nomination, it shouldn’t be this way.

Pennsylvania could avoid these outcomes by arranging our primaries in one of two ways. The first is ranked-choice voting, the second is runoff elections. …

n either of these systems, Mr. Mastriano would likely not get a majority. His base of support is significant, but outside his core fans, his popularity drops significantly. In a ranked-choice election, he would likely receive many fewer second- and third-choice votes than his competitors. In a runoff, he would bump up against a ceiling. The same would probably be true of Ms. Barnette.

But this isn’t about one candidate. It’s about a system that by its chaotic nature encourages too many candidates to run, and thus encourages the most demagogic instincts in those candidates, who can vie for the minority of most committed, more radicalized voters who can determine a race at only 25% or 30% of the vote.

This is how parties get radicalized even further, in a cycle hard to break. While some Democrats may be licking their chops at the idea of a Mastriano or Barnette candidacy, they should watch what they wish for. Donald Trump wasn’t supposed to win either. And they could easily face the same problem themselves.

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