Please share with me your thoughts for NYC's ranked-choice primary
May 19, 2021 8:54 AM   Subscribe

The NYC primary elections are about a month away, with early voting actually starting in mid-June. New York has begun using ranked-choice voting this year, so that the Democratic Party primary, which by now would ordinarily be whittled down to two or three candidates at most for each position, is stuffed instead.

On my sample ballot, there are 13 hopefuls for the mayoral nomination, 10 for comptroller and 12 for Brooklyn's borough president. I feel spoiled for choice and lack compelling info on most of these people, but I would really like to take advantage of the ranked-choice system, instead of simply saying "This person's my #1 choice and forget the rest."

Basically, what I'm looking for is opinions from NYC-area MeFites on:

a) Where are you finding trustworthy, useful info on this Hunger Games plethora of contestants?

b) What do you think your choices will be, and why?

c) Is there a strategic reason to arrange vote ranking -- i.e. "It's better if a lot of people vote Person X as their 2nd choice instead of push for 1st choice" type of thing?

Thank you very much!
posted by The Pluto Gangsta to Law & Government (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
One of the issues closest to my heart is defunding the NYPD. I found this compilation of information about the mayoral candidates useful in that regard. This Instragram account was the main source of NYC protest information during the uprising last summer, and I trust their data.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 9:00 AM on May 19 [6 favorites]

I've found The City's Meet Your Mayor tool really helpful.
posted by babelfish at 9:36 AM on May 19 [4 favorites]

I too follow that account and read through that info regarding policing and the mayoral candidates. I'm also watching through the NYT videos here right now (assuming you are voting democrat, if not, not sure where to find republican info, sorry [not sorry]).

Regarding the downticket races, also keeping an eye out for a good consolidated resource!
posted by greta simone at 10:08 AM on May 19

Seconding Meet Your Mayor as a great reference. Another thing you can do if you have particular issues you're passionate about is find organizations that do mayoral candidate questionnaires (e.g., here's some stuff from Streetsblog's transportation questionnaire).

Regarding the question of "is there strategic voting in ranked-choice?" there are two effects to think about:
  1. If none of your 5 ranked candidates are in the eventual top 2, you effectively don't have a vote between the two finalists. So a number of people suggest picking your "lesser of two evils" candidate as your fifth choice to avoid this situation.
  2. In theory, you can get into a situation where your second choice (say) gets eliminated because your first choice is still in the race, but would have won the whole thing had you flipped the ordering. But the conditions under which this could happen are very unlikely and require very strong correlations between certain candidates' rankings that we don't see in polls of NYC voters. So realistically, considerations of this sort should not influence your ranking.

posted by goingonit at 10:17 AM on May 19 [2 favorites]

I think we're collectively feeling the loss of indie papers in their glory days (here's looking at you, Village Voice and New York Observer), which once would have dedicated multiple issues to the candidates. Without local papers of that size in town anymore, all the news feels a bit catch as catch can, which makes it particularly tricky in a rank-choice voting election.

When it comes to the mayoral race, and political culture in both city and state, the best information I've found by a long shot has been Ross Barkan's substack (which you can try for free), which has several articles about the NYC left, local politicians, the mayoral candidates and so on. He's a great reporter, has several years of local political reporting under his belt, and I learned more about New York's "big picture" political system from him than I have in several years of trying to puzzle it out on my own.

I also found the New York Times interviews with the mayoral candidates helpful, though I thought it odd that the editorial board seemed more dismissive of some than of others. The Times has also written some investigative articles on Yang's inflated resume and Eric Adams' corruption.

I also watched the first mayoral debate, which is on YouTube,and was moderated by Erroll Lewis and Brian Lehrer, both of whom ask well-informed questions. Two more mayoral debates are scheduled, and there is going to be a single debate dedicated to the comptroller's race.

I will undoubtedly do more reading over the month, but I'm paying attention to endorsements to help guide me through the comptroller's race and my local city council race because not only are the plethora of candidates hard to sort through, but they all seem to emphasize one or two issues, which feels lop-sided. I watched one debate for the Borough President race, which wasn't particularly illuminating, and I'm actively seeking more information there.

I've yet to see anything about rank voting strategy to address your question on that. When it comes to candidate selections for the Mayor's race, I've already decided not to vote for Yang, who is flanked by Bloomberg advisors and is generally considered "impressionable," or Adams. I'm leaning toward a Biden-type vote because I think we really want someone very experienced in the levers of power — to use either with the state or the police, as needed.
posted by Violet Blue at 10:42 AM on May 19 [7 favorites]

Agree that if the race is realistically expected to come down to a particular pair, you should include whichever of those you prefer in your ranking somewhere. If you genuinely hate them both equally and you'd be happy with either outcome of a coin toss then this doesn't matter.
posted by plonkee at 10:44 AM on May 19

I'm leaning more and more towards Kathryn Garcia as my 1st choice. She's got more truly useful experience in NYC governance than any of the other candidates, from what I can see. And she seems to have done a pretty good job in every position she's held, at least the ones I know about -- directing the sanitation department, heading an initiative to reduce lead paint in public housing, and organizing emergency food pantries during the pandemic.

Governing NYC is tremendously difficult. Having all the correct progressive ideas is not sufficient to be an effective mayor. This may be why the NY Times and the Daily News have both endorsed Garcia.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:10 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]

Governing NYC is tremendously difficult. Having all the correct progressive ideas is not sufficient to be an effective mayor.

Seconding this. Part of why I like Maya Wiley—she spent years close to the levers of power.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:24 AM on May 19 [3 favorites]

A) I am bummed by our selection. I have a voracious appetite for news, but I think even the debate and just listening to what the candidates themselves say has been pretty informative. I would strongly recommend reading everything you can about Bradley Tusk and his role in Yang's campaign (I think NY mag had a decent piece and the Times has had some okay reporting as well). I find Tusk to be in the running for worst New Yorker of the year.

B + C) I am dithering a little bit because I remain a little skeptical of the allegations against Stringer (I think women should be believed, guys who are gross should be kicked to the curb, but I have a lot of questions on this one.) Because of the Stringer situation (I have not excised him from my list), It's basically comes down to, first, Dianne Morales; second, Wiley and Stringer struggling for second; Stringer or Wiley getting third, and then NO ONE after that with the possible exception of Paperboy Prince. I think Dianne Morales is least likely to win and that is the only reason I've ranked her first (because of RCV as a signal that I want the most progressive candidate to win), but I don't think she's substantially better than either Wiley or Morales except in her rhetoric (I think she speaks left progressive, but votes and acts like a Warren-ite). I think Stringer and Wiley together would probably be best for the city, but I think Stringer might be dead dead because of the allegations and Wiley hews too close to de Blasio/msnbc world.
I would strongly recommend against ranking Yang and McGGuire because I think they would be terrible for the city, I think Garcia and Adams are basically NYC republicans (I disagree with Garcia but get this sense that she is at least a competent technocrat, unlike some of the other grifters, but the novelty has worn off on cowardly technocrats, no matter how competent they are), Donovan is a daddy-funded vanity project, and the only reason I'm hesitating on giving Paperboy Prince a "well why not" rank is because his wikipedia page says he admires Yang and that's how bad I think Bradley Tusk's Yang would be for the city.
posted by history is a weapon at 11:54 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]

I’m putting paperboy first on the principle that the long shot at least will get registered votes before they are eliminated (note paperboy uses they/them pronouns). Then Wiley then Morales then I do not know :(
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:46 PM on May 19

I'm a bit late to this thread, but thanks for posting this question! I've also been looking for sources to inform my decisions, especially the ones about non-mayoral candidates. I've used Meet Your Mayor and have been watching Decision NYC with Ben Max. I don't know much about Max's background or politics (or those of the Gotham Gazette) but the interviews seem fairly helpful? I finished watching the mayoral candidates yesterday and plan on watching the interviews with candidates for other races in the next few days.

(After a quick check it looks like there are a decent number of videos about the candidates for mayor and comptroller, but not much for the others. Guess I'll have to look elsewhere for Brooklyn Borough President, etc.)

Re: mayoralty, based on MYM my top pick is probably Morales or Wiley. I like Morales and her politics probably align the closest with mine but I'm concerned about her lack of relevant experience. Based on the candidates' interviews with Ben Max and the NYT endorsement I might also add Garcia, although I can see the "NYC Republican" thing. I definitely need more information before I finalize my choices.

Currently my bottom three are Ray McGuire, Aaron Foldenauer, and Paperboy Love Prince. Everyone else is floating somewhere in the middle.
posted by green socks at 6:28 AM on May 25

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