Guest opinion: RCV is good for progressives

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Since San Francisco began using ranked choice voting in 2004 and public financing of campaigns in 2002, the city has been a leader in the types of political reform badly needed at state and national levels. People of color today have an unprecedented degree of representation and progressives are a dominant presence in city government. Elections are being decided in November, when turnout usually is highest, and the combination of public financing and deciding races in one election minimizes the impact of independent expenditures and Super PACs .

Yet progressive stalwart Calvin Welch, whose work we have long admired, recently authored a Bay Guardian oped against RCV. His charges against RCV are as wrong today as they were when he first made them 10 years ago when he opposed RCV on the ballot. And given the horrible Supreme Court ruling known as Citizens United, which has opened the floodgates on corporate campaign spending and did not exist when San Francisco last used separate runoff elections, returning to two elections is a direct threat to the future of San Francisco progressivism. 

The most serious of his claims is that RCV favors “moderate to conservative candidates” because “left-liberals do very well in run-off elections” since “in low-turnout elections, left-liberals vote more heavily than do conservatives.” He cites the 2000 supervisorial races and 2001 city attorney race, in which “the more liberal candidate for City Attorney, Dennis Herrera” bested “Chamber of Commerce functionary Jim Lazarus.” He asserts “that’s a verifiable San Francisco political fact.”

But San Francisco State University professor Richard DeLeon, author of the acclaimed book of Left Coast City about San Francisco politics, debunked that claim with real election data in his 2002 paper, “Do December runoffs help or hurt progressives?”

He found that in the November 2001 city attorney election, for every 100 voters who turned out in progressive precincts, 107 turned out in conservative precincts. But in the December 2001 runoff, for every 100 voters who turned out in the progressive precincts, 126 turned out in the conservative precincts, an 18 percent increase. Wrote DeLeon, “This dramatic increase in the ratio of conservative to progressive voters occurred despite (or perhaps because of) the 44 percent drop in voter turnout citywide between November and December.”

He continued: “If San Francisco had used [ranked choice voting] in November, Herrera most likely would have won by an even greater margin. In November, the liberal/progressive candidates for city attorney won a combined 60 percent of the vote…In the December runoff, however, Herrera won with only 52 percent of the vote. Thus, due to the proportionally greater decline in progressive voter turnout, Herrera probably lost approximately 8 percent of his potential vote, making the election close.”

DeLeon also rebutted Welch’s citation of the supervisorial races in 2000 as ones that demonstrated a progressive advantage in low-turnout runoffs, writing:

 “Progressive success that year was NOT due solely to a one-time surge in turnout among progressive voters…Many powerful forces converged in that election, not least the anti-Willie Brown backlash, the cresting of the dot-com invasion, and the return to district elections, which forced despised incumbents to stand trial before angry neighborhood electorates.”

DeLeon concluded:  “Based on the evidence presented, I conclude that December runoffs have hurt progressive voters, candidates and causes in the past and (absent same-day runoffs) will continue to do so in the future, even under district elections.”The Bay Guardian cited Professor DeLeon’s study in March 2002 (see  and scroll down to "A is OK"), and Mr. Welch is ignoring these results today just as he did then.

Certainly progressives haven’t won 100% of RCV elections -- should any political perspective? -- but they have done well nonetheless, electing  Bay Guardian-endorsed candidates like John Avalos, David Campos, Eric Mar, David Chiu and Ross Mirkarimi, despite those candidates not being incumbents. Other progressive incumbents first elected before RCV elections, like Aaron Peskin, Chris Daly, and others, were re-elected under RCV. And Mirkarimi was elected citywide in the sheriff’s race. On  the flip side, progressive Eileen Hansen most certainly would have beaten moderate Bevan Dufty in a November RCV contest for D8 supervisor; instead she lost in December after finishing first in November.

What’s actually at stake here is how we define progressivism. Since we began using RCV in 2004, 8 of the eleven members of the Board of Supervisors come from communities of color, a DOUBLING from pre-RCV days. At the citywide level, all seven officials elected by RCV come from communities of color. So out of the 18 elected officials in San Francisco, a whopping 15 out of 18 come from communities of color, the highest percentage for a major city in the United States.

The proposed repeal amendment would launch low-turnout September elections in San Francisco. In fact, the December 2001 city attorney race in which Welch cites as exemplary had a turnout of 15 percent of registered voters, the lowest in San Francisco’s history. New York City's last September mayoral primary had a turnout of 11.4 percent. In Charlotte NC (population 750,000, similar to San Francisco) its last mayoral primary had a turnout of only 4.3 percent. Cincinnati had a September turnout of 15 percent, and Boston and Baltimore had September mayoral primaries with turnout in the low 20s. Many cities in Minnesota have September primaries with extremely low turnout; the two largest cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, have switched to RCV largely to eliminate September primaries.

Research has demonstrated that voters in low turnout elections are disproportionately more conservative, whiter, older, and more affluent; those who don't participate are people of color, young people, poor people -- and progressives. So having a mayoral race in a low turnout September election has real consequences not only on voter turnout but on the demographics of the electorate.

While we share the priorities of Welch’s progressive economics, we believe progressivism must be more inclusive, especially if it wants to enjoy the support of these burgeoning demographics. While disappointed by the lack of progressive achievements of President Barack Obama, we still view the election of the first African American as president as a major progressive achievement.

Finally, we would assert that the ranked ballots used in RCV have been important for San Francisco democracy. Just look at the recent "top two" primary on June 5, and you can see the defects of the methods proposed to replace RCV. In many races across the state – including in the Marin County congressional race where progressive Democrat Norman Solomon lost by 0.2 percent -- too many spoiler candidates split the field and candidates got into the top two with extremely low vote percentages, some as low as 15 percent of the vote. In one race where there was a Latino majority and a solid Democratic district, the Democrats ran so many candidates that the Democratic vote split and two white Republicans made the runoff with low vote percentages.

San Francisco risks such elections if we get rid of RCV. Think of the last mayoral election, and the choice for Asian voters if we used single-shot plurality voting instead of RCV. Which Asian candidate would they vote for with their single-shot vote -- Lee, Chiu, Yee, Ting, Adachi? What kind of vote split might have occurred? And to avoid that, what kind of backroom dealing would have occurred BEFORE the election to keep that many candidates out of the race to prevent that vote-splitting?  We saw such vote splitting in the 2003 mayoral election as well, with various progressive candidates running and splitting the progressive vote. Going back to plurality elections would be damaging for constituencies that often run multiple candidates, such as the Asian and progressive communities.

RCV has been good for San Francisco, and we should keep it. For those who would like to see a runoff in mayoral races, Board president David Chiu has proposed a compromise that, while increasing the costs of running for mayor, is far better than the repeal measure for September elections. Chiu’s proposal would keep RCV to elect the mayor, but with a December runoff if no mayoral candidate won a majority of first rankings in November. The 2011 mayoral election would have gone to a runoff, with John Avalos as Ed Lee’s opponent.

San Francisco progressives should embrace a view of progressivism that is inclusive, promotes higher turnout and is based on a politics that is looking forward instead of backward to some golden age that never existed. Ranked choice voting and public financing are two parts of the puzzle for ensuring a vibrant progressivism.

Steven Hill led the campaign for ranked choice voting in San Francisco, and Matt Gonzalez was President of the Board of Supervisors and legislative author of the RCV charter amendment. See www.SFBetterElections.org for more information

 

 

Comments

Except that since IRV was implemented, progressive power has waned precipitously.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

Because they didn't have to run in RCV elections, progressives were able to keep control of Congress.

Oh, wait a sec. Breaking news: you can't blame RCV for everything.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

The Democrats, hardly progressives or even liberal these days, lost the House because the Democrat base was abandoned by Obama in passing the Health Insurers and Big Pharma Corporate Welfare Act of 2010 and they returned the favor on election day in 2010.

San Francisco progressives lost the Board of Supervisors for many reasons, IRV was a biggie.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

RCV clearly helps candidates who get out there who work hard.

In those 2010 races, which progressive candidate outworked their opponent down on the street level - knocking on doors, going to community meetings and so on?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

I agree with the above comments. You cannot simply blame RCV or IRV for all the negative consequences that happened just because it looks like a convenient thing to do. Politics and decision making is never easy, and there are many external factors that affect outcomes.

Posted by Thomas on Oct. 23, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

David Chiu's proposal make a lot more sense than the bizarre September primary idea. The only argument against seems to be that it doesn't make the Farrell-Elsbernd duo happy.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 2:38 pm

If the Farrell-Elsbernd proposal is mayor only, there's absolutely no reason they shouldn't switch it from September-November to November-December. The only reason they don't like Chiu's November-December proposal is that it uses RCV in the first round. But in their proposal, they don't have to use RCV in the first round.

A couple Board meetings ago, Farrell said he acknowledges that November-December is better from a turnout perspective than September-November, and he claimed to want to maximize turnout. So why don't they do it?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 10:23 pm

Steve Hill has written a fact-filled piece about how San Francisco has benefited from Ranked-Choice Voting, but what anchors my support of that system is that I want it expanded to more important elections, such as presidential elections. If Florida has used ranked-choice voting in 2000, George W. Bush would not have been sworn in as president.

There are attempts being made around the US to expand ranked choice voting. San Francisco is the most populous place in the US that uses it, and a defeat for it in this city will injure the nationwide effort.

Cambridge, Massachusetts, has used it with great satisfaction since the 1930's.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

I look to people in SF as being smart enough to recognize how brain-dead election systems are that cause vote splitting. This is a real problem, and having RCV at home is an important recognition of that on the national stage

Posted by diabolical_mdog on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 7:29 am

The fear of potential vote splitting versus the very real record of guaranteed reelection for incumbents, which is less or more democratic again?

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 7:46 am

"Fear" of vote splitting? Vote splitting is very real; it's not hard to understand.

This incumbent theory is hard to understand, on the other hand. If the electorate has an anti-incumbent mood, RCV will appoint a winner from the "other" group (similar to Oakland/Quan). Can you cite some real numbers on this incumbent theory? A few examples doesn't matter, there is nothing inherently wrong with reelecting somebody :)

Posted by diabolical_mdog on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 8:19 am

How many incumbents have lost reelection in San Francisco since 2004?

You see vote splitting as people not voting the way that you think they should vote.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 8:34 am

Have any of the proposals floated given you confidence that they'll reduce incumbent re-election?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

Cambridge doesn't use RCV. It uses STV which, being a method of proportional representation, is vastly different, even though the ballots and the elimination idea make them appear superficially similar.

Posted by Mudlock on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

>"Cambridge, Massachusetts, has used it with great satisfaction since the 1930's."

Congrats. Since the 1930s. Impressive.

So when is it going to catch on with the 99.4% of the country that doesn't use it?

Burlington and Aspen tried it and walked away, many more cities have evaluated it and realized how weak it is before subjecting their citizens to it.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

.. led those repeal efforts. They had spent the most money in mayoral races and still lost, so took their anger out on the system. But RCV is entrenched in many places - mayor of London, parliament in Australia, president of Ireland and so on.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

Sore losers in S.F.—"progressive," "moderate" and everywhere in between—may do the same here. I'm beginning to suspect it wasn't about more democracy, as Hill and Gonzalez correctly say it should be about, and tinkering with the system to get more likeminded ideologues elected. What say, marcos?

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

The ONLY reason why IRV was pushed forth in SF was because Gonzalez as a then-Green was of the party line that the reason why Greens were not being elected to partisan office over the right shifting Democrats was because likely Green voters were scared of spoiling for the conservative candidate.

The democratic aspirations here were to break that perceived bottleneck and allow people to vote for Greens first, Democrats second and so on down the list. That would be a democratic advance in partisan races where the spoiler effect was thought to have been observed.

I do not see the spoiler effect as being a spoiler effect. People vote the way they want under the electoral system and the cards fall where they may.

I do see it as problematic that there is a perceived spoiler effect in partisan races and think that partisan electoral rules should be changed to allow people to vote their politics without having to worry about enabling the opposite politics.

So IRV was designed to clear the path to electing Greens to Congress, the Assembly and the Senate, with San Francisco leading in the vanguard of electoral reform. Progressives were told to eat the ass end of the trade offs from runoffs to IRV as part of our duty to democratize the greater political culture.

That said, the spoiler effect was not what was dooming the Green Party in 2002. People were not voting Green for a range of reasons, to my mind fear of "spoiling" was low on the list.

First off, people did not vote Green because they did not see the party as mature enough to hand the keys of the government over to. I've learned that it is one thing to show up with what you think are good ideas and quite another to do the political work to earn support for them.

Second, people did not vote Green because the self selected candidates were either complete and total wingnuts, had zero organized support in the community like I didn't in 2000, or because they were opportunistic celebrities who were using the Green Party as a vehicle for self advancement.

Finally, local elections are nonpartisan, hence the approach to fix a partisan electoral problem will probably not apply in its entirety to a nonpartisan scenario.

Of course, the combination of the sectarian left that Gonzalez favors identifying the Green Party as a potential hot rock for their reptilian proclivities to punk some heat off of and using entrism to try to take it over and pull it to the left to run increasingly quixotic campaigns for impossibly high office on one hand, and the Democrats irate at Gore's loss in 2000 organizing to crush the Green Party in a way they'd never do to their ideological twin the Republicans on the other, conspired to crush the party in the late 2000s.

As it turns out, there is a straight line from Carter to Bush III, er, Obama where public policy marches inexorably away from public opinion and towards increasing corporate dominance. Bush would have won in 2000 had Nader not run and the Greens would still have kept the powder dry for when Obama or whomever came in to continue and expand the Reagan/Bush legacy.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

"The ONLY reason why IRV was pushed forth in SF was because Gonzalez as a then-Green was of the party line that the reason why Greens were not being elected to partisan office over the right shifting Democrats was because likely Green voters were scared of spoiling for the conservative candidate.

"The democratic aspirations here were to break that perceived bottleneck and allow people to vote for Greens first, Democrats second and so on down the list. That would be a democratic advance in partisan races where the spoiler effect was thought to have been observed."

That would be news, I think, to the majority of San Franciscans who voted for it. Whatever progressives' motivations (and I remember the shell game the Guardian and others played at the time), most people voted for it a. to save money on a December runoff and b. because they thought it would result in more officials whom voters could at least live with.

Now, of course, repeal efforts are coming from two sides: "moderates" who want to return to December runoffs because they didn't like the 2000-2010 Board and don't care about cost, and Welch/Salomon progressives who don't care about cost either or the will of the majority when it clashes with the "progressive economics" priorities of the overwhelmingly white, straight, middle-aged SFBG/Buck Tavern axis who aren't particularly progressive when it comes to, say, removing a domestic-abusive, mendacious sheriff who's their political ally.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

While I support the use of ranked choice voting, Aspen was not a model to follow. It is an example of how, even a good idea can get turned inside out and backwards.

San Francisco would be better off if it moved closer to the Cambridge model. Probably won't happen as long as business interests are paying to confuse voters about RCV.

Posted by RG on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

would progressives still be gung-ho for RCV if they believed that election outcomes would benefit conservatives in this town? It seems like many progs feel that RCV gives them the edge, so they support it. If they'd support RCV as the system even if it tended to benefit their opposition, then kudos to them for their principled stance. But if they'd be anti-RCV if it resulted in outcomes they didn't like, then in effect they are just trying to stack the deck in their favor, and that's a pretty shitty way to construct a method of voting.

I think anticipated outcome of the voting shouldn't even enter into the equation of RCV or not. You're either down with the system or you aren't, but based on the system, not the results

Posted by DanO on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

RCV is supported by most people, because it embodies progressive and democratic values. Getting more people involved, reducing the participation barriers, allowing voters to better express their preferences, reducing the influence of corporations and the super rich in the democratic process.

It is not surprising that something that makes those improvements to our elections will tend to favor progressive candidates. Some of the myopic progressives will evaluate RCV solely on the short-term win-loss perspective. But most understand the larger perspective.

There is nothing wrong per-se with a results-oriented evaluation. What makes the difference is what kind nof results are being evaluated and how.

Posted by RG on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

Next time I try to convince someone of anything I will do it in much less that 1,400 words.

Damn...that's almost a picture and a half.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

Possible minor effects on an election outcome or the way campaigns are conducted must be understood as secondary to that fact.

When we go into the voting booth to pick our first choice for an office, we have considered all the candidates. Therefore it is obviously possible and prudent to make a ranked choice between them so as to obviate the need for an expensive runoff election.

Why is RCV a progressive idea? It is because we believe in good government.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

>"When we go into the voting booth to pick our first choice for an office, we have considered all the candidates. Therefore it is obviously possible and prudent to make a ranked choice between them so as to obviate the need for an expensive runoff election."

I'm sorry but that is just lill-idiotic.

So If I'm reviewing the candidates last year and after hearing them all I realize that John Avalos and David Chiu are the two that stand out for me.

So you're telling me that I also sat there and decided if I like Phil Ting more than I liked Wilma Pang? Why would I? How much time and thought do you think that people would spend on this exercise even if they had to to fit the RCV system.

Also, give it up on the expense thing already, it's silly. For Mayor we're talking about 1 election every 4 years. $3.5 million for en electionexpense to find the person to control over $28 billion in budget over 4 years

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

I agree the raw expense is a small portion of SF's budget, but another cost to consider is the cost of forcing people to vote twice. At least one hour per person times 400,000 times 18 per hour: $7.2 million

Posted by diabolical_mdog on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 8:10 am

The strongest argument that low-turnout elections are good for corporate downtown interests is that Sean Elsbernd and the Chamber of Commerce have tried to introduce low-turnout elections in every proposed change they've put on the table.

They will also have fun funding progressive spoiler candidates if ranked ballots don't get used in the primary election.

Posted by RG on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

"While disappointed by the lack of progressive achievements of President Barack Obama, we still view the election of the first African American as president as a major progressive achievement."

How Shallow!

Not that it was a "major progressive achievement." The sheep fell for an empty marketing slogan of "hope and change we can believe in," and they allowed said marketing slogan to dominate over the shade of someone's skin pigmentation. Because Obama is pro-war, pro-drone, pro-1%, a corporatist guy. Just like Bush. Obama is not a liberal or a progressive. He's a corporatist and he has continued and expanded the right-wing Bush regime's agenda. I never heard anyone refer to Bush and his policies as "progressive." Or is it that symbolic and meaningless D behind Obama's name that makes many people want to see him differently than Bush, even though he's not (aside from the occasional bait Obama throws out to various groups to buy their votes and have them send him $$....such as the Hispanos/Latinos/Méxicanos and the GLBTQ groups).

Posted by Diego on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 4:04 pm

I am a progressive and I support RCV because it is a more democratic election system which enables more voters to take part in the decision of who will represent them. The true intent of the voter is tabulated because there are three choices. It especially helps low income ,people of color communities,the young, elderly and others who may not have the time to vote in two elections and tend to vote in higher numbers in November. so if a conservative happens to be more popular than a progressive and wins a RCV race, I am fine with that because he/she was elected with an excellent democratic election system not just because he/she has endless amounts of money.

Posted by Guest Judy B on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

>"I am a progressive and I support RCV because it is a more democratic election system which enables more voters to take part in the decision of who will represent them. "

Not sure about the more voters part. The final RCV tally of Lee-Avalos was 85K-57K. A total of 142K votes.

The corresponding vote totals in the previous 4 December run-offs were 202K, 190K, 221K and 253K in 1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003 respectively. Far fewer votes were tallied in the election that made Ed Lee Mayor than in any Mayoral election in recent memory.

You can see for yourself at the city's web site. A lot of what you are told about RCV is just plain false.

Posted by Troll on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

the former speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, when he supported her REPUBLICAN opponent in 2010. Without Pelosi the President would have not been able to pass a single item on his agenda including healthcare and expanded unemployment benefits. Matt Gonzalez supported handing control of the House of Representatives to Republicans under John Boehner.

Gonzalez is not a progressive. Progressives don't support Republicans who enable the right-wing agenda.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

On the other hand, her Republican congressional opponent John Dennis, who Gonzalez supported at least inasmuch as he would have liked Pelosi to stand in a debate against him, expressed a starkly contrasting firm anti-war position to her's.

Dennis is also in favor of gay rights, opposed the Wall Street bailouts, and questioned the legitimacy of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Posted by lillipublicans on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 4:52 pm

Progressives do not enable the Republican right-wing agenda. You're clearly a Republican - which is fine as that's your right. But don't act like you're a progressive because you're not.

Dennis would have voted for John Boehner for speaker - halting the president's agenda (which is what Boehner pledged to do and what he HAS done). Dennis is for tax cuts for the rich. Pelosi hand-carried Obama's entire first-term agenda through the House for him - she's done more in a week than you've accomplished in your entire life.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 5:03 pm

But I will say that Gonzalez and Hill have made a compelling case for keeping IRV. To my mind, anything that reduces the influence of big money and creates greater diversity on the BoS's is good for all of us, not just progresives.

Posted by lp on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 5:05 pm

Yeah, diversity is everything. As Matt Gonzalez says, the election of Barack Obama as the first black president was a progressive event, just like the election of Willie L. Brown, Jr, as Mayor was a progressive event.

They both worked out so well for progressives, let's just busy ourselves with identity politics so that we never get to focus on the big ticket issues.

The influence of big money in San Francisco elections is stronger, if anything, today than it was in 2002. IRV has solved nothing in that regard.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 5:16 pm

In one sense, you're right. Obama is not progressive in any sense of the word. However his election in a country with a long history of racial bigotry and discrimination was certainly progressive. However, I wouldn't expect someone who has never supported immigrant rights nor the concerns of communities of color to understand just how revolutionary that was.

Posted by lp on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

CU was decided in 2010, before the SF progressive salad days and the 2006 and 2008 elections.

I supported women and candidates of color almost exclusively in SF until it turned out that once in office they began screwing us as often as white male candidates.

Either we get led down the garden path where power coopts resistance into the identity silos or we oppose any and all aspirations of women, people of color, queers or immigrants. I reject both of those options, as neither carries popular support outside of the political class.

The fact is that over the past 30 years when identity politics has dominated progressive and radical thought, the activists have grown more shrill as popular acceptance of previously shunned minorities has grown. Hell, we voted for Obama and he deported twice as many Latino immigrants as Bush II and so many are down on their knees begging for it again.

My first political campaign was anti-apartheid in the Reagan 1980s in Texas. We organized massive rallies of thousands of people and hundreds of arrests with little more than a laser printer. We, joined that global coalition because the ANC came by and asked us to. With people who know how to play for keeps, we, all of us, won that one.

I voted Democrat for the first time in 2008, for Obama, because I knew that a black family in the white house would make tens of thousands of Texans cry themselves to sleep in their double wides. But since that worked out worse for us than Willie Brown, that spells the dead end of ethnicity as primary determinant for political support.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

Voted Democrat in 2008 for the first time since 1992, I voted for Carter when I was 18 and dutifully for each subsequent loser they paraded up until Clinton's reelection.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 16, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

"...power coopts resistance..."

Do you see a logical lacuna there, marcos? Once the resisters are in power, they have nothing to resist against. I've never understood the concept of institutionalized revolution, and you're not making it any easier.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 1:48 pm

Hill and Gonzales make some slippery word substitutions , mis-state and then ignore my main argument in their reply to my piece.

They argue that anyone that votes in a "conservative precinct" is a "conservative voter", a position held by folks who have never actually canvassed a precinct often hold. In San Francisco there are "left progressive" voters all over the City, even in "conservative precincts".

Such analysis can lead them to actually state that: "progressives are a dominant presence in city government" leaving me only to ask to what city are they referring?

I submit that DeLeons data, like their argument, is overly reliant on out of town after-the-fact analysis and is far, far too removed from actual political engagement, measuring gross behavior and then making specific predictions without regard to political context or actual campaigning. Progressive voters live and vote in "conservative precincts" in San Francisco, fellas. DeLeon missed that fact in analyzing Prop M in 1986 and he still misses it. Good campaigns governed by good politics identifies like minded people and mobilizes them where ever they live. it does not rely on some "system" to produce a choice, but politics.

Gonzales lost for Mayor in a December election in which more votes were cast than in November because he did not mount an absentee campaign, that is because of a campaign error, not a system error. RCV would not have helped him.

My main argument, ignored by Hill and Gonzales, is that progressives are at a systemic disadvantage under RCV as it favors multiple candidates sharing the same ideology and there will always be more mod/conservative competitive candidates because they have greater access to pro-development money and it is development issues that define conservative and progressive politics in San Francisco. RCV will not take San Francisco politics out of our politics and it is the height of absurdity to claim that it will.

Elections should be about passion and engagement, about offering people real political choices, not phoney ones about ranking all too similar candidates, and saving money by holding fewer elections.

As we used to say in the old days: "Politics is Supreme".

Calvin Welch

Posted by Calvin Welch on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

The Department of Elections changed their published schedule on when the absentee ballots would be mailed for the December runoff.

The Newsom campaign, represented by Jim Sutton, was apprised of that change of plans, the Gonzalez campaign, represented by Enrique Pearce, was not.

The day after the November election, I told Pearce that they had to have an absentee campaign. They balked and told us they were breaking the mold and making up their own rules. I told them they were insane and proceeded to write software that would allow for VBM voter identification.

We identified 21,000 voters using this software, but there were no resources made available to follow through on those VBM identifications.

So Willie Brown's government moved the goalposts on Gonzalez but the campaign leadership not punted instead of going for the field goal or faking it out and running for the TD.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

Calvin, you said, "Elections should be about passion and engagement, about offering people real political choices, not phoney ones about ranking all too similar candidates, and saving money by holding fewer elections."

I agree. But what about the argument that IRV increases voter turnout? Surely, there is no greater evidence of passion and engagement on the part of voters than the turnout at election time. Traditionally, low-turnout elections attract more conservative voters. Is SF any different in that regard? (I see you have dueling stats here, but it doesn't appear to me that is a special case.)

If you want more voter engagement, isn't it better for elections to be decided in November when more folks turn out, rather than a December run-off where turnout is abysmally low? Isn't this a better example of democracy in action? Just asking.

Posted by lp on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

He only wants voter engagement that makes voters vote his way.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 2:07 pm

Calvin, see some responses to your post below, indicated by ***. I am responding on behalf of myself only, not for Matt.

Calvin wrote: Hill and Gonzales make some slippery word substitutions , mis-state and then ignore my main argument in their reply to my piece.

*** Calvin, I really don't believe we made any slippery word substitutions or mistated or ignored your main argument. We took your piece seriously and addressed those parts that we considered most important.I would point out that you also have ignored some of the central arguments we made in our rebuttal of your piece. As you know, the Bay Guardian gave us a word limit, so a more extensive rebuttal of some of your points was not possible.

But here's one that I will rebut right now: that RCV favors incumbents. That's nonsense, just ask Tony Santos, the former mayor of San Leandro who lost his re-election for mayor in a close RCV contest. You have presented no data supporting your claim, since you would have to present data that somehow shows that there is a "RCV factor" above and beyond the USUAL advantage for ALL incumbents, no matter what electoral system is used. Here's what favors incumbents: INCUMBENCY! We didn't bother disputing that one in our response because we considered it a weak argument and not as much of a direct challenge to RCV as your other argument that two elections are better for progressives because progs allegedly turn out in greater numbers.

Calvin wrote: They argue that anyone that votes in a "conservative precinct" is a "conservative voter", a position held by folks who have never actually canvassed a precinct often hold. In San Francisco there are "left progressive" voters all over the City, even in "conservative precincts".

*** Calvin, I will match my "precincts walked" total in SF up against yours or anyone elses. How do you think we passed -- at the ballot box -- not only RCV but also public financing under my (and others) leadership? ;-)

Furthermore, your comment shows that you don't understand the methodology used by Prof. DeLeon in his study. We included a link to his study in our Guardian article but unfortunately the editors chose not to include it. Here it is: “Do December runoffs help or hurt progressives?” http://www.sfbetterelections.com/1/post/2002/02/do-december-runoffs-help....

If you read the brief explanation of methodology, you will see that Prof DeLeon created a rather clever Progressive Voter Index (PVI) that was methodologically robust. First, he constructed an index of progressive voting in all San Francisco precincts based on 12 key ballot measures from November 2000 to November 2001. Second, using the PVI scores as a tool, he compared voter turnout in the 25 percent most progressive precincts with the 25 percent least progressive (most conservative) precincts in both the November and December 2001 elections, a total of 50 percent of all precincts. Certainly it's true that there are conservatives living in progressive precincts and vice versa. Nevertheless, since he was looking at THE most progressive and conservative precincts, a shift in turnout in those precincts is not going to suffer from a high degree of "ecological fallacy" (the term for the phenomena you identified). On average, shifts in the most prog or conservative precincts are going to accurately reflect turnout among progs or conservatives within those precincts.

Calvin wrote: Such analysis can lead them to actually state that: "progressives are a dominant presence in city government" leaving me only to ask to what city are they referring?

*** Calvin, we said that progressives are A dominant presence, not THE dominant presence. And they are. If you aren't sure of that, just ask Supervisors Mark Farrell and Sean Elsbernd, who have had a frustrating time as legislators. Including their recent failed attempt to repeal RCV.

Calvin wrote: I submit that DeLeons data, like their argument, is overly reliant on out of town, after-the-fact analysis

*** out of town??? After the fact?? Calvin, Matt and I have lived here for many years. I've lived her for 20 years. Do you really think this is effective argument, to accuse us of being out of towners?? Or Prof. DeLeon, who taught at SF State for decades?

Calvin wrote: and is far, far too removed from actual political engagement, measuring gross behavior and then making specific predictions without regard to political context or actual campaigning. Progressive voters live and vote in "conservative precincts" in San Francisco, fellas.

*** Sorry Calvin, but you don't understand DeLeon's methodology. It's robust. Now that you have the link, I hope you will reconsider your comments above since they reflect a poor understanding.

Calvin wrote: DeLeon missed that fact in analyzing Prop M in 1986 and he still misses it. Good campaigns governed by good politics identifies like minded people and mobilizes them where ever they live. it does not rely on some "system" to produce a choice, but politics.

*** No Calvin, sorry, you are the one who is missing it. See at the end of my response for even more that you are missing.

Calvin wrote: Gonzales lost for Mayor in a December election in which more votes were cast than in November because he did not mount an absentee campaign, that is because of a campaign error, not a system error. RCV would not have helped him.

**** that's speculation. again, you have no data to support your claim. It's possible that RCV might have helped Matt win, but we will never know.What I DO know is that there were four progressives/liberals in that race, Matt, Ammiano, Alioto and Leal. And because of the plurality method used to select the "top two" to go to the runoff, that meant that for the progs/libs their main opponent in the first round was not Newsom but each other -- to see which would get into the runoff against Newsom. So these four candidates who had the MOST in common attacked each other to see who would survive the game of "Progressive Survivor" in plurality elections. Matt beat the other progs/libs with 19.5% of the vote and got into the runoff -- then had to try and reunite progs and libs after they had all been attacking each other. NOt an easy task. Ammiano endorsed Matt begrudgingly to keep peace in the prog family, but Alioto and Leal never did. THAT hurt Matt as well. That's what happened in that election, whether you want to recognize it or not. Yet you apparently want to return us to those types of plurality elections, with spoiler candidates, split votes, etc. I think it would be a horrible move, and only hurt progressives in SF.

Calvin wrote: My main argument, ignored by Hill and Gonzales, is that progressives are at a systemic disadvantage under RCV as it favors multiple candidates sharing the same ideology and there will always be more mod/conservative competitive candidates because they have greater access to pro-development money and it is development issues that define conservative and progressive politics in San Francisco.

**** We didn't consider that to be your main argument, nor your most powerful argument. We addressed your argument that spoke most directly to the heart of the issue, i.e. your claim that progs do better in two election runoff cycles because progs turn out in greater numbers. It simply ain't true, Calvin, and the DeLeon study smashes that argument. I don't expect you to accept that now any more than you did back in 2002. It's a standoff.

And as far your "main argument" identified above, the 2003 mayoral election is the most obvious refutation to it. More progs/libs ran than moderates. Same in D5 in 2004, D3 in 2008, etc. That was also the case in Oakland mayor's race, and in many Berkeley local races. Or are you saying this is a phenomena only in San Francisco, i.e. San Francisco exceptionalism?

Calvin wrote: RCV will not take San Francisco politics out of our politics and it is the height of absurdity to claim that it will.

**** Straw man. Who claimed that RCV will take the politics out of SF politics? Certainly not Matt or I in our oped.

Elections should be about passion and engagement, about offering people real political choices, not phoney ones about ranking all too similar candidates, and saving money by holding fewer elections. As we used to say in the old days: "Politics is Supreme".

*** Sorry, that's just rhetoric. There's no argument there, and you've up no data to back up any of your claims.

OK, that's the end of what you wrote, so now I would ask that you think about this. My final comments below are drawn partly from some passages we had included in our original Bay Guardian piece but the editors cut it out (I imagine because our piece was fairly long). Here's what YOU ignored in your response to our article, and in fact what your brand of progressivism has ignored for years, going back to the 1990s at least.

Calvin, as I am sure you will recall, when the voter-created Elections Task Force of San Francisco was convened in the mid-1990s to deliberate over a return to district elections, the minority members on that panel were quite frustrated by you because you insisted on a "race-blind" progressivism. You advocated for a return to the district lines of the 1970s -- I recall that at one meeting that I attended you called them the "historical districts" or something like that -- even though the demographics had changed dramatically and those districts would have disenfranchised minority communities.

This history is important Calvin because in calling for the repeal of RCV, you are demonstrating once again that your brand of progressivism cares little for diversity. And that's why we wrote in our article: "What’s actually at stake here is how we define progressivism."

As we wrote in our oped: Since we began using RCV in 2004, 8 out of 11 members of the Board of Supervisors come from communities of color, a DOUBLING from pre-RCV days. At the citywide level, ALL SEVEN officials elected by RCV come from communities of color. So out of the 18 elected officials in San Francisco, a whopping 15 out of 18 come from communities of color, the highest percentage for a major city in the United States. ALL of them elected by RCV.

Calvin, one gets the feeling that you wouldn't care if these offices were all held by white straight men, as long as you liked their stances on economic issues.

In calling for RCV’s repeal, you apparently are not troubled by the fact that Farrell's now-defeated repeal amendment would have launched low-turnout September elections in San Francisco. In fact, the December 2001 city attorney race -- which you cited as exemplary -- had a turnout of 15% of registered voters, the lowest in San Francisco’s history.

In your response Calvin, you ignored this part as well: "Research has demonstrated that voters in low turnout elections are disproportionately more conservative, whiter, older, and more affluent; those who don't participate are people of color, young people, poor people -- and progressives. So having a mayoral race in a low turnout September election has real consequences not only on voter turnout but on the demographics of the electorate."

Calvin, while Matt and I both share the priorities of your progressive economics, we also believe progressivism must be more inclusive, especially if it wants to enjoy the support of these burgeoning demographics.

So, you ignored this central thesis of our article in your response. Why not weigh in now, in this forum, about where you stand on the importance of diversity to your brand of progressivism. It is an important discussion -- truly about different visions for SF progressivism -- and I am sure that many would be interested to see you address this and hear your thoughtful commentary.

With respect,

Steven Hill

Posted by Steven Hill on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

and is not very credible. He has admitted to omitting data in his analysis to fit his pro-IRV position.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

Can you link to some evidence where DeLeon made such an admission? Thanks.

Posted by lp on Jul. 17, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

Calvin, see some responses to your post below, indicated by ***. I am responding on behalf of myself only, not for Matt.

Calvin wrote: Hill and Gonzales make some slippery word substitutions , mis-state and then ignore my main argument in their reply to my piece.

*** Calvin, I really don't believe we made any slippery word substitutions or mistated or ignored your main argument. We took your piece seriously and addressed those parts that we considered most important.I would point out that you also have ignored some of the central arguments we made in our rebuttal of your piece. As you know, the Bay Guardian gave us a word limit, so a more extensive rebuttal of some of your points was not possible.

But here's one that I will rebut right now: that RCV favors incumbents. That's nonsense, just ask Tony Santos, the former mayor of San Leandro who lost his re-election for mayor in a close RCV contest. You have presented no data supporting your claim, since you would have to present data that somehow shows that there is a "RCV factor" above and beyond the USUAL advantage for ALL incumbents, no matter what electoral system is used. Here's what favors incumbents: INCUMBENCY! We didn't bother disputing that one in our response because we considered it a weak argument and not as much of a direct challenge to RCV as your other argument that two elections are better for progressives because progs allegedly turn out in greater numbers.

Calvin wrote: They argue that anyone that votes in a "conservative precinct" is a "conservative voter", a position held by folks who have never actually canvassed a precinct often hold. In San Francisco there are "left progressive" voters all over the City, even in "conservative precincts".

*** Calvin, I will match my "precincts walked" total in SF up against yours or anyone elses. How do you think we passed -- at the ballot box -- not only RCV but also public financing under my (and others) leadership? ;-)

Furthermore, your comment shows that you don't understand the methodology used by Prof. DeLeon in his study. We included a link to his study in our Guardian article but unfortunately the editors chose not to include it. Here it is: “Do December runoffs help or hurt progressives?” http://www.sfbetterelections.com/1/post/2002/02/do-december-runoffs-help....

If you read the brief explanation of methodology, you will see that Prof DeLeon created a rather clever Progressive Voter Index (PVI) that was methodologically robust. First, he constructed an index of progressive voting in all San Francisco precincts based on 12 key ballot measures from November 2000 to November 2001. Second, using the PVI scores as a tool, he compared voter turnout in the 25 percent most progressive precincts with the 25 percent least progressive (most conservative) precincts in both the November and December 2001 elections, a total of 50 percent of all precincts. Certainly it's true that there are conservatives living in progressive precincts and vice versa. Nevertheless, since he was looking at THE most progressive and conservative precincts, a shift in turnout in those precincts is not going to suffer from a high degree of "ecological fallacy" (the term for the phenomena you identified). On average, shifts in the most prog or conservative precincts are going to accurately reflect turnout among progs or conservatives within those precincts.

Calvin wrote: Such analysis can lead them to actually state that: "progressives are a dominant presence in city government" leaving me only to ask to what city are they referring?

*** Calvin, we said that progressives are A dominant presence, not THE dominant presence. And they are. If you aren't sure of that, just ask Supervisors Mark Farrell and Sean Elsbernd, who have had a frustrating time as legislators. Including their recent failed attempt to repeal RCV.

Calvin wrote: I submit that DeLeons data, like their argument, is overly reliant on out of town, after-the-fact analysis

*** out of town??? After the fact?? Calvin, Matt and I have lived here for many years. I've lived her for 20 years. Do you really think this is effective argument, to accuse us of being out of towners?? Or Prof. DeLeon, who taught at SF State for decades?

Calvin wrote: and is far, far too removed from actual political engagement, measuring gross behavior and then making specific predictions without regard to political context or actual campaigning. Progressive voters live and vote in "conservative precincts" in San Francisco, fellas.

*** Sorry Calvin, but you don't understand DeLeon's methodology. It's robust. Now that you have the link, I hope you will reconsider your comments above since they reflect a poor understanding.

Calvin wrote: DeLeon missed that fact in analyzing Prop M in 1986 and he still misses it. Good campaigns governed by good politics identifies like minded people and mobilizes them where ever they live. it does not rely on some "system" to produce a choice, but politics.

*** No Calvin, sorry, you are the one who is missing it. See at the end of my response for even more that you are missing.

Calvin wrote: Gonzales lost for Mayor in a December election in which more votes were cast than in November because he did not mount an absentee campaign, that is because of a campaign error, not a system error. RCV would not have helped him.

**** that's speculation. again, you have no data to support your claim. It's possible that RCV might have helped Matt win, but we will never know.What I DO know is that there were four progressives/liberals in that race, Matt, Ammiano, Alioto and Leal. And because of the plurality method used to select the "top two" to go to the runoff, that meant that for the progs/libs their main opponent in the first round was not Newsom but each other -- to see which would get into the runoff against Newsom. So these four candidates who had the MOST in common attacked each other to see who would survive the game of "Progressive Survivor" in plurality elections. Matt beat the other progs/libs with 19.5% of the vote and got into the runoff -- then had to try and reunite progs and libs after they had all been attacking each other. NOt an easy task. Ammiano endorsed Matt begrudgingly to keep peace in the prog family, but Alioto and Leal never did. THAT hurt Matt as well. That's what happened in that election, whether you want to recognize it or not. Yet you apparently want to return us to those types of plurality elections, with spoiler candidates, split votes, etc. I think it would be a horrible move, and only hurt progressives in SF.

Calvin wrote: My main argument, ignored by Hill and Gonzales, is that progressives are at a systemic disadvantage under RCV as it favors multiple candidates sharing the same ideology and there will always be more mod/conservative competitive candidates because they have greater access to pro-development money and it is development issues that define conservative and progressive politics in San Francisco.

**** We didn't consider that to be your main argument, nor your most powerful argument. We addressed your argument that spoke most directly to the heart of the issue, i.e. your claim that progs do better in two election runoff cycles because progs turn out in greater numbers. It simply ain't true, Calvin, and the DeLeon study smashes that argument. I don't expect you to accept that now any more than you did back in 2002. It's a standoff.

And as far your "main argument" identified above, the 2003 mayoral election is the most obvious refutation to it. More progs/libs ran than moderates. Same in D5 in 2004, D3 in 2008, etc. That was also the case in Oakland mayor's race, and in many Berkeley local races. Or are you saying this is a phenomena only in San Francisco, i.e. San Francisco exceptionalism?

Calvin wrote: RCV will not take San Francisco politics out of our politics and it is the height of absurdity to claim that it will.

**** Straw man. Who claimed that RCV will take the politics out of SF politics? Certainly not Matt or I in our oped.

Elections should be about passion and engagement, about offering people real political choices, not phoney ones about ranking all too similar candidates, and saving money by holding fewer elections. As we used to say in the old days: "Politics is Supreme".

*** Sorry, that's just rhetoric. There's no argument there, and you've up no data to back up any of your claims.

OK, that's the end of what you wrote, so now I would ask that you think about this. My final comments below are drawn partly from some passages we had included in our original Bay Guardian piece but the editors cut it out (I imagine because our piece was fairly long). Here's what YOU ignored in your response to our article, and in fact what your brand of progressivism has ignored for years, going back to the 1990s at least.

Calvin, as I am sure you will recall, when the voter-created Elections Task Force of San Francisco was convened in the mid-1990s to deliberate over a return to district elections, the minority members on that panel were quite frustrated by you because you insisted on a "race-blind" progressivism. You advocated for a return to the district lines of the 1970s -- I recall that at one meeting that I attended you called them the "historical districts" or something like that -- even though the demographics had changed dramatically and those districts would have disenfranchised minority communities.

This history is important Calvin because in calling for the repeal of RCV, you are demonstrating once again that your brand of progressivism cares little for diversity. And that's why we wrote in our article: "What’s actually at stake here is how we define progressivism."

As we wrote in our oped: Since we began using RCV in 2004, 8 out of 11 members of the Board of Supervisors come from communities of color, a DOUBLING from pre-RCV days. At the citywide level, ALL SEVEN officials elected by RCV come from communities of color. So out of the 18 elected officials in San Francisco, a whopping 15 out of 18 come from communities of color, the highest percentage for a major city in the United States. ALL of them elected by RCV.

Calvin, one gets the feeling that you wouldn't care if these offices were all held by white straight men, as long as you liked their stances on economic issues.

In calling for RCV’s repeal, you apparently are not troubled by the fact that Farrell's now-defeated repeal amendment would have launched low-turnout September elections in San Francisco. In fact, the December 2001 city attorney race -- which you cited as exemplary -- had a turnout of 15% of registered voters, the lowest in San Francisco’s history.

In your response Calvin, you ignored this part as well: "Research has demonstrated that voters in low turnout elections are disproportionately more conservative, whiter, older, and more affluent; those who don't participate are people of color, young people, poor people -- and progressives. So having a mayoral race in a low turnout September election has real consequences not only on voter turnout but on the demographics of the electorate."

Calvin, while Matt and I both share the priorities of your progressive economics, we also believe progressivism must be more inclusive, especially if it wants to enjoy the support of these burgeoning demographics.

So, you ignored this central thesis of our article in your response. Why not weigh in now, in this forum, about where you stand on the importance of diversity to your brand of progressivism. It is an important discussion -- truly about different visions for SF progressivism -- and I am sure that many would be interested to see you address this and hear your thoughtful commentary.

With respect,

Steven Hill

Posted by Steven Hill on Jul. 18, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

Brilliant rebuttal, Steven. The last section, starting with "Calvin, one gets the feeling that you wouldn't care if these offices were all held by white straight men, as long as you liked their stances on economic issues" gets to the heart of what's wrong with "progressivism" in San Francisco. Welch himself said, "...it is development issues that define conservative and progressive politics in San Francisco."

Posted by Guest on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

FACT: No incumbent has lost an IRV election in San Francisco while three conservative incumbents won the primary in November 2000 and lost the runoff in December 2000.

Steven points to one incumbent who lost their IRV race in San Leandro. The exception proves the rule, one incumbent losing out of many who have sought reelection still means that IRV favors incumbents even more than runoffs do.

The PVI is a general wayfinder, not an absolute rule, I helped Rich map the pre-2002 precinct PVI to 2002-2012 precinct PVI and am familiar with the data.

Turnout depends on what's on the ballot and what side is more organized, not where any given voter votes. DeLeon's statistical analysis on what might happen in the future based solely on observed turnout relative to the PVI had not borne itself out in the historical record in election results. The more appealing an election is to a base, the greater their turnout is irrespective of whether it is a primary or runoff, ballot measure or candidate.

There are three reasons why Gonzalez lost: Enrique Pearce mismanaged the campaign and did not run an absentee program as they were rewriting the book on campaigning, Carlos Petroni put out a tabloid in D1, D4 and D7 that reprinted a Chronicle headline "Matt Gonzalez Will Govern From the Left," and it rained on election day. There went your 15000 votes. I was there 24/7, Steven Hill was not.

Ammiano, Leal and Alioto had nothing to do with the runoff. The number of people who came out for Matt during the runoff was an order of magnitude or so more than came out for the four candidates in the primary.

Elections are the last place we should be pushing the kind of austerity that Steven Hill seems to think is the right medicine for Europe, as for US states, right now.

Since candidates of color have been elected in San Francisco, Willie Brown, David Chiu, Jane Kim and Ed Lee, the last 3/4 via RCV, the position of the unrich of all ethnicities has deteriorated. There is no connection, as we've seen with Obama, between the presence of elected people of color and the advancement of the interests of unelected people of color. We've tried that, we thought it was a good idea, and now the suggestion that diversity for its own sake is a good idea has been relegated to the dustbin of history.

Identity politics has turned out to be a diversion that channels energies from consensus class issues towards divisive identity issues and as practiced here ends up being worse for the communities that it is supposed to empower. I thought different, but the evidence approaches conclusiveness.

Welch is correct in that IRV has resulted in a developer-friendly rainbow of candidates being elected to the Board of Supervisors in droves. And that has resulted in progressive decline as well as wholesale displacement of the unrich who do not get paid by think tanks to jet around the world to promulgate ruling class friendly electoral and political shortcuts.

San Francisco is not the general case of anything. This City has a unique political culture and is small and intimate in a way that few if any other American cities are. The rules that apply elsewhere do not apply the same way here because the entire City is walkable.

I don't see how you share progressive economics or concern for youth if your last published piece that I read was to downplay the significance of youth unemployment in Europe. If we continue on with IRV, the progressive movement and progressive economics are dead in San Francisco. We don't have much time.

Posted by marcos on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

Prof. Rich DeLeon sent this addendum to his 2002 study of voter turnout in the 2001 city attorney's race (which I and Matt Gonzalez cited in our response to Calvin Welch). You can view Prof. DeLeon's full study, including the very illuminating scatterplot he has created, at http://www.sfbetterelections.com/1/post/2012/07/do-december-runoffs-help....

From Prof. DeLeon:

Addendum to my original February 2002 article, “Do December runoffs help or hurt progressives?”

I wanted to check whether my original findings indicating a conservative turnout advantage over progressives in December runoff elections also held for extremely conservative and extremely progressive precinct electorates. The original comparison was between the city’s top 25% progressive precincts (as measured by the PVI) and the bottom 25%. But it seemed to me at least plausible that in the extremely progressive precincts, voter turnout rates might recover and possibly match those of the most conservative precincts. Anyway, I wanted to check and see.

Once again using the PVI scores as a tool, I compared voter turnout in the top 10 percent most progressive precincts (PVI > 83, n = 57) with the bottom 10 percent least progressive (most conservative) precincts (PVI < 23, n = 61) in both the November and December 2001 elections.

Here is what the comparison revealed.

November 2001 general election: For every 100 voters who turned out in the most progressive precincts, 107 turned out in the most conservative precincts. This 7 percent difference is fairly close to parity.

December 2001 runoff election: For every 100 voters who turned out in the most progressive precincts, 141 turned out in the most conservative precincts.

These new results show that the conservative turnout advantage was even greater when comparing the ideological extremes – from ratios of 107 and 126 comparing top and bottom 25% to ratios of 107 and 141 comparing top and bottom 10% of precincts on the PVI.

This dramatic increase in the ratio of conservative to progressive voters occurred despite (or perhaps because of) the 44 percent drop in voter turnout citywide between November and December.

(scatterplot here -- Figure 1)

Also note the pod of precincts in District 6 rising above the regression prediction line, suggesting that GOTV in that district in Dec 01 achieved turnout parity with the most conservative precincts in District 7, and this against the strong overall trend indicating the higher the PVI, the bigger the drop in turnout from Nov to Dec relative to conservative precincts. Thus, passion, engagement, and good tactics matter, obviously, but the point here is that for progressives they matter much more in December runoffs when the turnout hill to be climbed becomes much steeper.

I believe these new findings offer additional visual and statistical confirmation of the claims I made in the original article.

Posted by Steven Hill on Jul. 25, 2012 @ 11:58 pm

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