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It’s the voters’ turn this midterm

Three things to think about this October 13th

Alana Persson
Digital Marketing Associate
October 13, 2022

Yesterday, three political advertisements for candidates flashed back-to-back across my television screen — something Americans across the country are noticing and likely you as well.

It begs an important and recurring question — one that speaks to the core of the work we do: Do these commercials actually make any real difference come election day?

It has been reported by the nonpartisan firm AdImpact that $9.7 billion is projected to be spent on political ads during the 2022 election cycle — a figure surpassing spending in not only all previous midterm cycles, but presidential cycles, too. The kicker? The skyrocketing cost of elections comes alongside the continually decreasing number of seats that are actually decided in November (the majority are decided in the primary.) As of now, the Cook Political report has rated 87 percent of congressional seats safe for one party — meaning that the astronomical amount of money spent between now and November that shows up on your TV and in your mailbox, at most, only make a difference in 13 percent of races.

This country doesn’t need more bucks competing for fewer eyeballs and votes. It needs more and better choices who are all competing for more voters — what the election reform work that Unite America does is all about.

With this in mind, here are three other things to consider this week about:

1. It’s time to give runoff elections the boot

The primary election season has come to a close and media attention has shifted toward predicting outcomes in November. But before we can look ahead, we must look back to the primaries to understand where we’ve landed now.

One thing to pull from the last several months? Exactly how many candidates won was a doozy.

  • Per research from our friends at FairVote, 120 candidates for House, Senate, and statewide office won primaries this year with less than majority support.
  • Nine states hold primary runoff elections if a winner doesn’t receive 50% of the vote (or, in the case of North Carolina, 30% of the vote). This extra election is costly to administer, (we’re talking millions and millions) and, while they help guarantee consensus winners, these runoffs at a later date typically have low and unrepresentative voter turnout.
  • Take this: Of the 22 districts that held runoff elections for U.S. House contests this year, on average, just 4.6% of the districts’ voting age Americans cast ballots to determine nominees.

So in short, typical runoffs are costly and unrepresentative. There’s a way to solve this with an instant runoff by using ranked choice voting. It creates a more seamless process for voters and election administrators alike (all while saving taxpayers’ money!). Read Beth Hladick’s blog to learn more.

2. The Silver State could be this election cycle’s “silver” lining

All eyes have been on Alaska and the impact of their groundbreaking election reform, and now another state could soon follow suit. Next month, Nevadans will have the opportunity to vote for an Alaska-style election model: a nonpartisan primary and ranked choice general election. Currently, Nevada is a closed primary state, meaning that 600,000 independent or unaffiliated voters are effectively barred from participating in primary elections. However, voting “Yes” on Question Number 3 in Nevada could flip that script, giving both power and voice back to a large cohort of presently excluded voters.

Visit the Nevada First Project website to learn more.

3. The year of ranked choice voting

Last week, we shared with you just how big this year is for reform in November. For the first time in our nation’s history, we will see the highest ever number of states, cities, and municipalities with ranked choice voting on the ballot! Spreading across the country with undeniable momentum, ranked choice voting is on the ballot in Nevada (paired with the nonpartisan primary system in existence in Alaska), Evanston IL, Ojai CA, Fort Collins CO, and numerous other jurisdictions.

This week, we want to share this new resource from our friends at FairVote that can help you learn more about where ranked choice voting is on the ballot and how you can get involved in supporting these ballot initiative. Check out Fair Vote’s helpful pre-election resource guide.