For whatever people may say about Ranked Choice Voting, it sure didn’t cut into the power of incumbency.
Even a short-time interim candidate has an enormous advantage as we witnessed with Ed Lee.
His vote pattern for the night was fairly predictable: A huge lead with nearly 40 percent of the early mail in vote, and then a gradual settling to 31 percent (44,451 votes) by the time all the precincts were counted.
The showing of Supervisor John Avalos (26,447/18.7 percent), and City Attorney Dennis Herrera (15,967/1127 percent) were also somewhat predictable. In a Democratic town, both were one and two on the party slate card. A huge advantage and what some wondered was a racist tactic. Five key Asian American candidates, including the interim, and none get named to one of the top two slots?
The real question mark was how the Asian American candidates would do on their own, and it seemed break down by money raised. Boardof Supervisor President David Chiu raised the most money in the least time compared to the other candidates overall. But without the party or incumbency behind him, he managed only a fourth place finish (12,655/8.93 percent).
State Sen. Leland Yee was next with 10,595 votes, or 7.48 percent of the vote, perhaps showing how most of his ardent support in his two-county senate seat may be primarily in San Mateo County.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi was sixth with 9.075 votes or 6.41 percent. Adachi filed his candidacy on the last day and was also tied to a bold but unpopular pension reform proposal that also lost on Tuesday.
Just imagine if Ed Lee had kept his word to David Chiu and not run for Mayor.
Chiu just might be sitting were Lee is right now, leading—but not by a majority.
Instead, the top 6 finishers have 65.5 percent of the vote.
That means that likely the bottom ten with 35 percent of the vote will determine if and when Ed Lee gets the majority he needs.
Lee sits at 31.38. If he’s on slightly more than 19 percent of the second choice ballots of the bottom 10 candidates, he wins. It may be over before we have to count the No.2 choice of Yee at 5th place.
This is either the power of the folly of Ranked Choice Voting. The bottom folks have more power than you think.
Wouldn’t it be better just to have a runoff? More costly, but perhaps more transparent and definitely easier to understand.
RCV makes one wonder, “What the hell happened to my vote?”
The next tally is due by 4pm PST.