How Ranked Choice Would Have Sunk Idaho Conservatives in the 2022 Primaries
Ranked Choice would have sunk conservative Republican fortunes in district after district.
While conservatives struggled statewide in the Republican primaries, they did well in the state senate and held their own in the state house. But results would have been very, very different if Idaho had ranked choice voting.
Ranked choice voting has two stages. First, there is a “jungle primary” to determine which three or four or five candidates get on the general election ballot. Second, there is a ranked set of choices in the general election. Both votes happen at the same time with the ranked choice method. We have described and illustrated the process here. Others have described it here.
Let us assume that the primary election was the first jungle phase of the ranked choice process. Who would have won the general election under a ranked choice system as it presented itself in the primaries in 2022?
Consider District 11’s senate race, where Chris Trakel, a political novice, defeated long-time representative Greg Chaney to become the Republican nominee for senate. As you can see, Trakel won with more than 50% of the Republican vote. The problem, however, is that Trakel did not win 50% of the total vote. He won only 1,908 out of the 4,101 votes cast, while Chaney, a very liberal Republican, got 1,642. This election would not have been determined in the first round.
Under a ranked choice system, the candidate with the fewest votes would then be eliminated. His votes would be reallocated to the candidate who was the second choice on his ballot. Let us assume that all of Kurtis Berger’s votes, only 15 votes in the primary, would go to Chris Trakel, as the most conservative candidate. This is an assumption very much to Trakel's advantage. Trakel would still only have 1,923 votes, several percentage points short of the 50% majority he would need.
Then, the candidate with the next fewest number of votes, in this case Toni Ferro, the Democrat, would be eliminated. Chaney and Trakel would be the last two candidates standing, and they would be allocated Ferro’s votes. Presumably most of Ferro’s voters would support Chaney, the liberal Republican. Let us assume that 80% or 428 of Ferro’s voters would support Chaney as their second candidate, while 20% or 108 would go to Trakel. Chaney’s total would then be 2,070, while Trakel’s total would be 2,031.
Ranked Choice voting might well have brought about Senator Greg Chaney! This is precisely why liberals in Idaho will push ranked choice voting.
The same dynamic was present in District 4’s House races, where conservatives narrowly unseated establishment Republicans and where there was a relatively strong Democrat presence. Conservative Republican Elaine Price defeated establishment Republican Paul Amador by about two hundred votes with more than 50% of the Republican vote. Price, however, won just 4,028 of the 9,044 votes cast for all three candidates or about 45% of the total vote. On to round two.
At this point, in ranked choice voting, the 1,208 votes for Democrat Larry Bieber would be re-allocated to the Democrat voters' second choice. Amador would have needed to outpoll Price by just 220 votes among the 1,208 Democrat votes to win—and such a result is very likely. Some of the votes would no doubt have been exhausted, but Amador probably would be the representative today if we had a ranked choice voting system. Much the same is true of Joe Alfieri’s victory over Jim Addis in District 4’s other House race.
Ranked choice unleashes a dynamic that might well have cost conservatives as many as half a dozen senate seats and many House seats.
More Democrats would probably run for office in such a circumstance under the ranked choice model, precisely so that their second votes would turn elections to establishment Republicans. Democrats have done so much to skew Republican primaries through registering as Republicans. Ranked Choice would actually give them the ability to choose Democrats and establishment Republicans as general election candidates—always to the detriment of conservatives.
No conservative should support ranked choice—it is a Trojan horse that will allow Jim Jones and his leftist brethren to dominate the state. They will be trying to pass this scheme, so be forewarned and forearmed.