A week after Tarzog Market Research showed Republican Governor Matt Bevin trailing by 19 points among likely voters, President Trump traveled to Kentucky to campaign for him — and liberals cited Bevin's narrow loss a major blow for Trump.
Ironically it appears most Kentuckians agreed with Trump that they preferred the Republican to the Democrat — however a spoiler candidate existed — and 28,442 voters chose him in Libertarian John Hicks.
Trump would have very likely claimed a victory if Kentucky and other states would simply adopt the system of instant runoffs — sometimes referred to as ranked-choice voting.
Under this system, the 28,442 Kentuckians who voted for Libertarian John Hicks would have still listed him as their first choice, but been able to list their second choice. Since no candidate received a majority of votes, and instant runoff would be calculated awarding those libertarian votes to their second choice among the Democrat and Republican as the top two.
Based on libertarians' general preference for Republicans if forced to choose between them and a Democrat, a 2-to-1 break on second choices could have propelled Bevin from his 704,388 first-choice votes that left him 5,000 votes behind Democrat John Hicks under the current system, to almost 724,000 votes to likely best Hicks by close to 5,000 votes.
However, because instant runoffs have been opposed by many Republicans, the majority of voters in Kentucky will now get their least favorite option — a Democratic Governor.
This also happens when Democrats recruit pro-life candidates. For example, President Trump won a legislative district in Middlesex, Massachusetts, with 51% of the vote. However, when it was time to elect their legislator, the Democrats recruited a “pro-life” candidate who took 8% of the vote, leaving the Republican nominee with 43% of the vote to cost the Republican the seat. As instant runoff would have given Republicans one more legislative seat in deep-blue Massachusetts.
In the last 20 years Republican U.S. Senate candidates Kelly Ayotte (NH 2016), Joe Heck (NV 2016), Ed Gillespie (VA 2014), Denny Rehberg (MT 2012), Ted Stevens (AK 2008), Gordon Smith (OR 2008), Conrad Burns (2006), John Thune (SD 2002), Slade Gordon (WA 2000) and John Ensign (1998) could have all won if the votes of the Libertarian, Constitutional, or other third-party candidates had the chance to list the Republican as their second choice.
Yes, there would have never been a Democratic U.S. Senator Harry Reid, Jon Tester, Mark Warner, or Maggie Hassan — if only instant runoff/ranked-choice voting were in place.
In states that already have runoffs, adopting instant runoff legislation will save millions of dollars and let voters cast their second choice without needing to come back to the polls a couple of months later. In states with no runoff system at all, instant runoffs will finally require a candidate to get a majority rather than voters accepting the lesser of two evils — eliminating the ability to win a race by recruiting a spoiler third party candidate.
The time has come to make this common sense innovation.
John Pudner is Executive Director of Takeback.org, a non-profit home for Americans seeking true political reform. Our conservative solutions include: stopping illicit foreign money from impacting elections; ending pay-to-play in government contracting; and restoring the Reagan-era federal tax credit for small-dollar political contributions, which will encourage more citizens to become donors and help re-balance the campaign finance system. For more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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