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A deeper look at the ranked choices for mayor of Minneapolis

The first-choice preferences of voters whose ballots counted for Jacob Frey and Raymond Dehn; geographic distribution of exhausted ballots; and more!

On Wednesday, November 8, Jacob Frey was declared the winner of the Minneapolis mayoral election. He’d led on election night, capturing around a quarter of Minneapolis voters’ first choice selections, and after five rounds of ranked-choice voting tabulation he edged out second-place finisher Raymond Dehn.

None of this is news to someone who’s been paying attention to Minneapolis politics. But on Friday last week, city staff posted a spreadsheet containing the actual rankings for mayor of the 105,928 ballots cast in the election. (There were only 104,522 votes in the election for mayor because 1,406 ballots had no valid votes for mayor as first, second or third choices.) Of course, nothing in this data changes anything about the outcome of the election, but it can give us a little more insight into the preferences of Minneapolis voters than is possible either from the election night results or the RCV tabulation results released by the city.

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First choices

At the end of ranked-choice tabulation, Jacob Frey was declared the winner with 46,716 votes — 44.7 percent of all the valid votes for mayor. 26,116 of those votes listed Frey as their first choice, 15,188 as a second choice and 5,412 as a third choice. (In cases where no valid first choice was marked, either because the ballot was left blank or the voter marked multiple selections, a valid vote in the second choice position was counted as a first choice, and likewise from third to second.)

Rank of votes for Jacob Frey

Here are the first choices of all the voters whose ballots were eventually counted for Frey:

First choice of ballots that eventually counted for Jacob Frey

The biggest contributors of second- and third-choice votes to Frey were supporters of Tom Hoch. Hoch received 20,125 first-choice rankings. About half of those voters, 10,049, listed Frey as a second or third choice.

Hoch voters were not so enthusiastic about second place finisher Dehn:

First choice of ballots that eventually counted for Raymond Dehn

Dehn received just 3,265 second- and third-choice rankings from Hoch voters. Instead, his biggest source of second- and third-choice voters was voters whose first choice was Nekima Levy-Pounds. Dehn was ranked second or third by 7,042 of these 15,716 voters. Overall, Dehn had 34,971 votes at the end of ranked-choice tabulation — 33.5 percent of the vote. Those votes consisted of 18,101 first choices, 11,970 second choices, and 4,900 as a third choices.

Rank of votes for Raymond Dehn

Support for Frey and Dehn from people whose first choice was to retain incumbent mayor Betsy Hodges was pretty evenly split: 5,765 Hodges voters’ second- or third- choices counted for Frey; 5,937 for Dehn. But the biggest group of ballots that listed Hodges as their first preference ended up in the “Exhausted” pile — meaning they did not list Frey or Dehn as a second- or third- choice. The first-choice preferences of all 22,835 exhausted ballots:

First choice of ‘exhausted’ ballots

What if, contrary to the rules for tabulating ranked-choice voting, Dehn were eliminated and votes that were allocated to him were reallocated according to their second- or third- choices? Or, put another way, how many Dehn voters also ranked Frey among their choices, only lower? Counting those votes would’ve given Frey a boost of 8,053 votes, bringing his total to 54,769, or 52.4 percent of the total.

Where the votes came from

In addition to listing the first, second and third choices for all the ballots counted in the mayoral election, the data from Minneapolis also includes the ward and precinct of each of these votes. MinnPost previously mapped the first-choice votes for Minneapolis mayoral candidates based on election night data from the Secretary of State, but the data from the city allows us to look at all the votes that counted for the top candidates, not just first choices. Here’s Frey:

Portion of votes for Jacob Frey by ward

Frey won the most votes from the high-turnout 13th Ward in Southwest Minneapolis, but also received strong support from south Minneapolis’ Wards 11 and 12, Ward 7 covering the Kenwood, Lowry Hill and Bryn Mawr neighborhoods, and Ward 3, which Frey currently represents on the council.

Dehn’s support was much more concentrated on Minneapolis’ east side. His best ward was Ward 12 in the far southeast of the city. (Note the differing scale for this map.)

Portion of votes for Raymond Dehn by ward

Finally, the exhausted ballots. While the raw number of exhausted ballots is pretty similar across wards, low turnout in North Minneapolis’ Ward 4 and Ward 5 meant that exhausted ballots represent a higher percentage of all the ballots cast in those wards than in others in the city.

Portion of exhausted ballots by ward