2008 Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer race
For more information about the Assessor-Treasurer race, see here.
The Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer race in November 2008 is non-partisan and features six candidates which is the most of any Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) race in the county. In order of their appearance on the ballot, the candidates are Dale Washam, Terry Lee, Jan Shabro, Bernardo Tuma, Barbara Gelman and Beverly Davidson. For comments on why each of the candidates are running, see Why?
Several of the candidates have sufficient name recognition and/or qualifications to gain significant first choice vote totals. None of the candidates has raised sufficient funds to do a countywide mailing to likely voters. The race is likely to be highly affected by the quality of the candidates' voter pamphlet statements.
It is likely that no candidate will receive a majority of the first choices of the voters. This is the type of race where candidates have different campaign strategies with RCV than Top-2.
Saving your resources for the General Election
In Top-2 races, there was a primary in August and all but two candidates have been eliminated. In this type of system, we would have seen quite a bit of campaigning in the Assessor-Treasurer race during June, July and August with the candidates trying to be one of the two who makes it through the primary into the general election.
Since this race is an RCV election, there was no primary and all of the candidates move directly to the general election. While there was a bit of campaigning this summer, we didn't see a single yard sign for the Assessor-Treasurer race before the primary. Some candidates noted in their responses to questions, that they had postponed the heavy campaigning in the race until the fall since there was no primary.
To Win, You Need a Majority
In an RCV race, voters are allowed to list their second and third choices as well as their first choice. Davidson, Lee, Shabro and Washam all want as many first choices as possible, but are also asking for second and third choices as well. When asked if he was campaigning for second choices, Lee stated "I sure am, with 6 candidates it's unlikely any candidate will get a simple majority on first count."
If no candidate receives a majority of the first choices in a RCV race, the candidate with the fewest first choices is eliminated and those votes go to the second choices on their ballots. If a candidate receives a majority of the votes in this round, that candidate wins. If no candidate has a majority, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the process is repeated. In the Assessor-Treasurer race, it is likely that we will need three or more rounds of counting before the winner is determined.
Positive vs. Negative Campaigning
All of the candidates in the Assessor-Treasurer race who answered our questionaire are focused on getting positive messages out about their qualifications for this office. Tearing down one of the other candidates is not the best way to get a majority of voters to vote for you in this race. In fact, some candidates were willing to tell us their second choice.
In the Assessor-Treasurer race, we are seeing some straightforward changes in campaign strategy due to the RCV nature of the race. Conserving resources until the general election, asking for second and third choices and positive campaigning for the candidate rather than negative campaigning against one opponent are in evidence thus far.