Brennan leads in Down East/MPRC Portland Mayoral Poll
The Maine People’s Resource Center today released the results of a public opinion poll sponsored by Down East taking a look at the current state of the Portland mayoral election.
The race for mayor is interesting not just because 2011 is the inaugural year for this new, elected position, but because the race features fifteen candidates and will be conducted through ranked-choice voting, a system that allows voters to state their relevant preference for different candidates and promotes the selection of the candidate with the widest appeal and largest public mandate to govern.
This survey of 477 likely Portland voters, conducted by interactive voice response from October 28 through October 30, found that Michael Brennan was selected a first choice by a plurality of voters. A subsequent extrapolation of possible rounds of instant-runoff eliminations conducted using single-transferable vote election software and based on second and third choice preferences found Brennan increasing his lead and eventually winning in the final round of the election over second-place finisher Ethan Strimling. The margin of error for first, second and third choice results is 4.44 percent. 95 times out of 100.
Preferences for nine of the fifteen candidates were polled in this survey. Among these, first choice results show Brennan and Strimling leading the pack with 27.4 percent and 21.6 percent of the vote respectively, Nick Mavadones alone in a second tier at 12.6 percent and the other six candidates further behind, with support ranging from 7.2 percent for David Marshall to 1.4 percent for Ralph Carmona.
The full results of this poll, instant runoff election projection, methodological description, frequencies and crosstabulations can be found here.
This kind of public poll, taking into account ranked choice voting and attempting to extrapolate election results based on voter preference, is unique in Maine and is likely unique in the United States. In other jurisdictions where ranked-choice voting is used, polling has mostly only measured first choice candidate preferences.
One thing that is clear from these results is that second, third and further choices of candidates can matter in the outcome of a ranked choice election. Between the two frontrunners, for instance, the original margin is relatively small, but Brennan’s lead grows as he accrues a larger percentage of second choice votes. If relative second place preferences were reversed, Strimling would pass Brennan and win the election.