Thursday, September 21, 2017

Do the Math: Despite Herself, Betsy Hodges is Still the Favorite to Win Reelection in Minneapolis

Betsy Hodges may be inept as mayor and as a candidate, but she has a great chance of winning a second term as mayor.  The reason for this is divided and weak  political opposition and the logic of ranked choice voting (RCV).
There was so much hope for Hodges when she was elected mayor of Minneapolis four years ago.  She inherited from R.T. Rybek a city generally headed in the right direction.  Yes, the city was challenged by uneven economic growth, racial disparities, crime, and other big city problems, but  these maladies were solvable with good leadership.  That did not happen.

Repeatedly Hodges failed when it came to managing the city, including rebuilding Nicollet Mall, working with City Council, overseeing the police, and addressing the core educational and socioeconomic disparities she pledged to combat as candidate.  Her tenure as mayor included a tin ear when it came to stories about her frequent travel while ignoring city business, inept dealing with developers of the land near the new Vikings stadium, she has been embroiled in court disputes about releasing a timely budget, and her reelection campaign has suffered two major mass resignations.  She ought to be doomed as a candidate for a second term.
Yet Hodges may be the luckiest person in the world.  As much as she may be disliked in the city, her opposition is generally weak and divided.  Consider the candidates.  With the singular exception of Tom Hoch, there is no major candidate running who has the political or executive experience to run the city.  Jacob Frey, Raymond Dehn, and Nekima Levy-Pounds lack executive experiences, and none of them seem to have the leadership capacity to unite voters or the city. No single anti-Hodges candidate has emerged, and there is no sign that votes are coalescing around any of these candidates.  In addition, given that the news cycle is dominated by Donald Trump, it is possible that many Minneapolis voters have not heard of all or any of the other candidates running against Hodges, the mayor may be the best or only known candidate by many in the city.
But even if Hodges is disliked and voters have someone else they prefer to her as mayor, they may not have someone else as a second choice beyond her.  Hodges may be many voters’ second choice simply–as the old saying goes–better the devil you know than the one you do not.  This is where RCV comes in.
Consider the following scenario in the mayor’s race.  Assume these are the election results with Frey getting 26% of the vote, Hodges, second at 26%, and so forth.  Assume also that Hodges is the second choice for all voters.

26:Frey>Hodges>Dehn>Hoch>Levy>Other
24:Hodges>Frey>Dehn>Hoch>Levy>Other
20:Dehn>Hodges>Frey>Hoch>Levy>Other
15:Hoch>Hodges>Frey>Dehn>Levy>Other
10:Levy>Hodges>Frey>Dehn>Hoch>Other
5:Other>Hodges>Frey>Dehn>Hoch>Levy

Using a RCV predictor tool, Hodges wins the election.

Now assume Hodges is second choice with these results where Frey is the clear frontrunner and Hodges is tied for second.  Hodges still wins the election.

28Frey>Hodges>Dehn>Hoch>Levy>Other
22:Hodges>Frey>Dehn>Hoch>Levy>Other
22:Dehn>Hodges>Frey>Hoch>Levy>Other
15:Hoch>Hodges>Frey>Dehn>Levy>Other
10:Levy>Hodges>Frey>Dehn>Hoch>Other
5:Other>Hodges>Frey>Dehn>Hoch>Levy

Finally, consider a third scenario where  Hodges is a third choice but still comes in a close second.  Frey wins.

26:Frey>Dehn>Hodges>Hoch>Levy>Other
24:Hodges>Frey>Dehn>Hoch>Levy>Other
20:Dehn>Frey>Hodges>Hoch>Levy>Other
15:Hoch>Frey>Hodges>Dehn>Levy>Other
10:Levy>Frey>Hodges>Dehn>Hoch>Other
5:Other>>Frey>Hodges>Dehn>Hoch>Levy

Many other scenarios will produce different results and many will show Hodges losing.  But if one assumes Hodges is a top three finisher in a close race and she is the second choice of most voters, she wins a second term as mayor.

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