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When Minneapolis mayoral candidates rank their choices, Samuels wins

MinnPost photo by Karen Boros
Samuels was named in the list of Jackie Cherryhomes’ five alternative candidates and Betsy was not, which gave Don the slight advantage.

The Star Tribune just posted an interesting blog about how a selection of competitive candidates for mayor of Minneapolis would hypothetically fill out their own ballot. [As you know, Minneapolis uses ranked choice voting which allows voters to select their top three choices in the event that their first choice is a loser. The system is said to diminish the need to vote strategically — e.g. choosing to vote for the Republicans over your true choice, Slytherin House, just because you’d rather not see the DFL win — and has helped a lot of really awesome small candidates like CRZ  gain support.] Not surprisingly, most of the candidates surveyed either declined to acknowledge that they have feelings towards their opponents or named a few guys they like but left their selections un-ranked. The information was still enough for Stubble’s amateur statistics team to run a simulated a election that went for four rounds using slightly modified ranked choice rules.

Here’s a link to to Google Doc where all of this is worked out. With the number of participating voters so low, the candidates’ first choices being themselves, and the exact rank of many being pure probability, traditional ranked choice kind of falls apart. To address this Stubble implemented a few rules:

  1. When a voter named a group of candidates as their next choice, that group of candidates was given 1/n with n=the number of candidates second place votes. In other words, the probability that the voter would select their #2 choice after themselves from the group named is equal for all choices.
  2. The number of second place votes was calculated for each candidate as the sum of the individual probabilities. Where this number came from is spelled out in the “notes” column on the above Google Doc.
  3. If no candidate had a majority of first-ranked votes, the candidate with the least number of second choice votes was eliminated. Basic ranked choice stuff.

Here’s how the voting went down…

Don Wins! BUT he and Betsy Hodges both pretty much came in first out of the pack. Don was named in the list of Jackie Cherryhomes’ five alternative candidates and Betsy was not, which gave Don the slight advantage. After Betsy and Don, come Cam Winton/Jackie Cherryhomes, Dan Cohen, Stephanie Woodruff, Bob Fine, and Gary Schiff in that order.

Does this result reflect voter sentiments? Probably not, but it is an interesting look at how each candidate is viewed by their peers. You could use these results to suggest not that Betsy or Don will necessarily win in November, but that the candidates themselves think Betsy or Don are the best choices of who probably could and should win.

This post was written by Tom Johnson and originally published on Stubble. Follow Stubble on Twitter: @stubblemag.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 10/15/2013 - 09:59 am.

    “…enough for Stubble’s amateur statistics team…”

    This genuinely amateurish effort has no problem projecting from the molehill of their data ( 6 voters ? Really ? ) to a mountainous conclusion ( “Samuels wins”).

    You’d think they’d be embarrassed by this “work” and fight to keep it from being published – you know, like “Hey, we were just kidding. Don’t publish this crap !!”.

    But they have no pride, none at all. I guess they wanted some kind of headline and I guess they got it.

    Place the emphasis on “amateur” here. This is the most ridiculous article I have ever seen on MinnPost. Why do you promote garbage like this ?

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