Sunday, September 28, 2008

Top 2 vs. Ranked Choice Voting: Negative Campaigning

Top 2 races are exhibiting high levels of negative campaigning. The Top 2 system appears to be designed to maximize the amounnt of negative campaigning. In the Governor's race, the ads are almost all negative now. Voters are being asked to vote against the other candidate, not for a particular candidate.

In the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) races in Pierce County, we are seeing much lower levels of negative campaigning. We are seeing much more positive campaigning. In the County Executive race where there are four candidates and voters have three choices, the campaigns seem more interested in getting those voters' first choices than bashing individual opponents. There is still some negative campaigning, it is just at a lower level than the Governor's race or other heavily contested Top 2 races.

In the County Council District #2 race, Carolyn Merrival and Al Rose have each endorsed the other as their second choices. Of course, in Top 2 races, voters are not allowed to list their second choices, so this would never happen. The very structure of RCV races leads to more cooperative campaigning than the Top 2.

If voters would prefer more positive campaigning and less negative campaigning, RCV is a superior system to the Top 2. Within the Top 2 system, in a heavily contested race, we see a reflex campaign tactic of going negative. Within the RCV system, we see many races with more than two candidates and the rewards to going negative are reduced.

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At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Richard Shepard said...

There is also a campaign finance factor in this phenomenon of negative campaigning. PACs are able to spend several thousands on "Call the Governor" or "Write your candidate" ads under the claim of "issue advocacy" and avoid campaign contribution limits.

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Scott said...

So would the next fight be to bring RCV to another county, like King, or shoot for a statewide campaign?

Perhaps that will be answered after the general election?!?


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