With Anti-Lee Attack Ad, Dennis Herrera Ditches Logic of Ranked Choice Voting

Categories: Politics
Is this the best type of ad to run in an RCV election?
According to the ranked choice voting playbook, candidates must offer themselves up as a perfect amalgam of milquetoast and pablum. They might not draw enough attention to be anyone's favorite, but perhaps they'll get enough second-choice votes to prevail.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera seems to have ditched that formula today in a television commercial denouncing Mayor Ed Lee as a patsy for Rose Pak, Recology, and PG&E.

"Special interests are enjoying unprecedented access in City Hall, to the point that the interim Mayor is doing PR activities for PG&E. San Franciscans deserve a Mayor who fights for all of us -- with no strings attached," Herrera said in a press release.
Check out the video.

Matt Dorsey, spokesman for the campaign, says that ad spot shows Lee is a sullied backroom dealer compared to the corruption-fighting Herrera.

According to Dorsey:

Citing Lee's continued support for a controversial Central Subway project that is nearly $1 billion over its original budget, his praise for PG&E just days after the company was sharply criticized by federal regulators for its negligence in causing the San Bruno blast, and admissions by Recology employees that they were pushed to work to help get Lee elected, the ad highlights mounting concerns about Lee's poor judgment and political motives as voters begin learn more about the mayoral candidates.

By coming out swinging both fists -- hard -- Herrera is risking his potential to grab second or third choice votes from Lee supporters.

But from where we sit, the attack spices up what had been a boring, ranked-choice-voting-driven election.

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So much for reducing negative campaigning by use of IRV. My group of opponents to IRV have been saying this for past year. IRV does not reduce negative campaigniing. Also ,Herrera is correct; there is no need to chase Lee's second or third choice voters; everyone needs to bypass Lee and chase the second and third place votes of other candidates. One other factor, as things now stand in SF, no one will win with a majority of the votes cast. IRV does not produce a majority winner as stated by its supporters. IRV is a failed system and it is hoped SF voters see this at the end of this election.  


Your analysis of RCV campaign strategies is blinded by your penchant for anti-RCV propaganda.  Votes will likely never be counted for the second-choices or third-choices of Ed Lee supporters because win or lose, Lee will survive to the last round.


All this shows is that your analysis of the incentives of ranked choice voting has been overstated. To win with RCV, you have to stand out from other candidates and earn a lot of first choices -- almost always either first or second in first choices. To do that, you have to stand for something and earn people's loyalty. Second choice rankings of weaker candidates obviously matter and, but not nearly as much as you and some other observers have said --and they can go based on respect a candidate has earned, and that respect can be earned in a variety of ways (most reliably by getting out in the community and meeting people in debates, neighbornood events, etc).

RCV cuts a sensible middle ground between the relentlessly negative campaigns we often see in "all-or-nothing" campaigns (like 95% of TV ads being negative in recent Wisconsin special elections) and more positive, here's-why-I'm-a-good candidate tactics that most voters prefer.

Rick H
Rick H

Ed Lee is a LIAR.  We need to stop Rose P and W Brown!


2nd place votes behind Ed Lee will not get you nothing. You need to get enough 1st place votes to survive and ALL the 2nds behind the other "Not Ed Lee" candidates. Smart strategy by Herrera.


I love this - it's like somebody made a video of my blog....

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