For Immediate Release
/ June 16th 2006

Al Gore Wins Presidential Straw Poll At Take Back America Conference

Instant Runoff Voting Provides Insight into 2008 Race

Washington, DC � At a straw poll conducted by FairVote this week, Al Gore narrowly edged out Sen. Russ Feingold as the preferred candidate among participants at the Take Back America Conference, a major gathering for progressive Democrats.

The mock election used instant runoff voting (IRV). With IRV, instead of marking an "X" next to one candidate, voters rank them in order of choice. The counting uses voter rankings to simulate a series of runoff elections to determine a winner with a majority of the vote. That means that if voters' first choice were eliminated in the first round, their second choices would still count. No spoilers.

In the first round of the counting, Sen. Feingold was in the lead. Barack Obama lagged behind in third place. In a typical primary election, the vote counting would have ended here and Feingold would have been declared the winner with well under a majority of support. Under IRV, though the counting was done instantly, it took 10 rounds to determine a winner with a majority of support:

Candidate R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10
Al Gore 17 19 19 19 20 21 25 26 29 38
Russ Feingold 18 18 19 19 20 22 22 30 31 36
Barack Obama 11 11 11 13 13 14 15 15 17
Howard Dean 4 4 5 5 5 X

Mark Warner 6 6 6 6 6 7 8 X

John Edwards 5 5 5 6 7 7 X

Hillary Clinton 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 10 X
John Kerry 4 4 4 4 X

Nancy Pelosi 3 3 3 X

Wesley Clark 2 2 X

Analysis of Gore victory: The results show the breadth of support for Gore among progressives at the conference, as he drew enough next-choices from enough other candidates to win. However, his initial tally was large enough to indicate a strong core support as well.

In addition to eliminating the spoiler effect, IRV also minimizes the number of wasted votes because 91% of the ballots went toward determining the winner. This is a stark contrast to the traditional system that would have wasted 79% of the votes.

More on IRV at:

To seek comment on these issues call Ryan O�Donnell at (301) 270-4616, or (413) 335-9824 over the weekend.