Nation Button Contest, 2004

In June 2004, the Nation magazine gave visitors to its website an opportunity to select a slogan for buttons it would be producing in time for the party conventions. Six slogans were nominated. With nearly 11,000 voters, the winner was "Beat Him by More in 2004."

So how did instant runoff voting affect the results? First, it showed that
“Beat Him by More in 2004” did not win only because of a split between more popular choices. Of 10838 ballots, 24% chose it as their favorite button slogan – more than any other option, but still far short of majority support. With instant runoff voting, no slogan was a “spoiler” because everyone had the right to express their full views through ranking the slogans in order of choice.

With instant runoff voting, a candidate needs to earn a win by having both core support and broad support. This chart show the results of the rounds of counting that were necessary to find the majority winner. Here is a short round-by-round analysis:

First Round: With 24% of first choices, “Beat Him by More in 2004” started off with 5% more first choice support than any other slogan. Far behind was “Import Democracy,” with only 9% first choice support.

Second Round: After “Import Democracy” was eliminated and ballots recounted for the remaining slogans ranked highest on each ballot, the big “mover” was “Exit Strategy – Vote” which was ranked as the next choice on nearly a third of the ballots cast first for “Import Democracy.” But “Beat Him by More in 2004” maintained a clear lead. “Security Begins with Peace” was now eliminated as the last place slogan.

Third Round: Backers of “Security Begins with Peace” also disproportionately favored “Exit Strategy – Vote” as their next choice; it
again picked up a third of votes. This result eliminated “Kerry Us Back” as the last place slogan. “Beat Him by More in 2004” maintained the lead, but lost ground to “Know Bush – No Peace.”

Fourth Round: Backers of “Kerry Us Back” were evenly spread among the three remaining slogans as their next choice, leaving “Exit Strategy – Vote” in last place and set to be eliminated.

Fifth Round: “Exit Strategy – Vote” backers slightly favored “Beat Him By More in 2004” over “Know Bush – No Peace, “ making the final results 54% for “Beat Him by More” to “46%’ for “Know Bush – No Peace.”

Of the 10,838 voters, 95% ranked either of the two finalists. 538 voters
who supported other slogans as their first choice chose not to rank either
of these slogans – reflecting their right to abstain, but forfeiting their
opportunity to choose between those final choices.