My NYC mayoral ballot

The Democratic primary for mayor of New York City is coming up. Whoever wins the primary will almost certainly be the next mayor.

Elections in New York City use instant runoff voting (more commonly called ranked-choice voting by non-nerds). To spell out what this means:

  1. Voters rank their choices (in this case, their top 5 choices).
  2. The candidate with the fewest first place votes is eliminated. Votes of voters who have this candidate at the top of their rankings have their vote reassigned to their next choice.
  3. Step 2 continues until all but one candidate is eliminated.

This is a huge improvement over the first past the post system, especially in a race like this one where no candidate will be the first choice of more than 30% of voters or so. It also means I get to think about how to rank my choices!

I’ll tell you how I’m planning to vote (note: subject to revision; check back later) and then explain my reasoning. Here’s the ballot I’m planning to submit:

  1. Kathryn Garcia
  2. Shaun Donovan
  3. Andrew Yang
  4. Scott Stringer
  5. Eric Adams

The best analysis of this race that I’ve run into, by far, is on Kyle Bogosian’s EA Politics site. His values are broadly aligned with mine, and I think he gets basically everything right. Before seeing his spreadsheet I made my own based on New Democracy’s scorecards (housing, transit, economy, criminal justice, immigration) and got very similar results; but I think Kyle’s analysis is more thorough. (And we’ve been talking some, so he’s incorporated some of my thoughts — and these scorecards — into his rankings as well.)

So his scores are a great starting point. At the time of this writing, they are:

  • Garcia: 1.44
  • Donovan: 1.41
  • Stringer: 1.28
  • Yang: 1.14
  • McGuire: 0.97
  • Adams: 0.8
  • Wiley: 0.52
  • Morales: -0.20

I basically agree with this, but want to briefly comment on why I’m ranking Yang above Stringer and including Adams in my top five.

There are two things I like about Andrew Yang that I think are unaccounted for just by looking at his policies. The first is that he explicitly said that Kathryn Garcia is his second choice and that he would put her in charge of important things. This increases my confidence that Yang will surround himself by competent, experienced people and make up for his lack of government experience (which Kyle penalizes Yang heavily in his scoring system).

The second has to do with the idea of local governments as laboratories of democracy. When electing the president of the United States, I want the best person for the job. When electing a mayor or governor, I give candidates bonus points for having ideas that haven’t been tried before — and Yang has lots of those, like his plan for a basic income pilot program. If that works well, it’ll be really good to know, because then other cities and states can implement it!

Overall — and I’m not being rigorous here — this makes me put Yang above Stringer but below Donovan.

Finally, my choice to rank Adams but not McGuire is a strategic one. As of June 8th, PredictIt gives four candidates a non-negligible chance of winning:

Strategically it makes sense to put all but one of these top four candidates in your ranking. That’s because it the race comes down in the end to two candidates, neither of which you have ranked, your vote won’t count for anything. Since I prefer Adams over Wiley, I’m choosing to include him in my ranking. (Sorry Ray McGuire!)

[Edit: Kyle has updated his ranking to recommend ranking Adams 5th for this reason.]

That’s all I have to say. I didn’t talk about the issues because I endorse Kyle’s overview. I have some differences — I’d probably assign a higher weight to housing policy and I don’t know that I agree with Kyle on education policy — but these are minor quibbles.

Good luck filling out your ballot, and I’m happy to talk to you about it, especially if you’re a New York voter!

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