The race for New York City mayor was always going to be a s***show, at the least on the Democrat side. Given the new ranked-choice voting system and pre-existing problems with vote counting, the Democrats weren’t expected to declare a winner until weeks after the voting.
Things took a turn for the worse yesterday when the Board of Elections released updated results showing that what was a substantial lead for Eric Adams had almost disappeared due to ranked-choice adjustments, but then withdrew these results stating that they were due to a counting error.
Nothing enhances confidence in government like an admission that it can’t count.
We still don’t know whether Adams won the race. A new update shows that his lead has narrowed considerably, though not by as much as initially reported.
However, we now know that Maya Wiley didn’t win. Wiley is a radical leftist. She served as counsel to Mayor de Blasio and was favored by the Ocasio-Cortez wing of the party. Defunding the police was part of her platform.
Wiley finished second in the raw vote count, but the ranked-choice system pushed her down to third place and thus eventual elimination. She was overtaken for second place by the less radical Kathryn Garcia, favorite of the city’s Democratic establishment.
This is now a two-way race between Adams and Garcia.
It’s not surprising that the ranked-choice system worked to Wiley’s disadvantage and to the advantage of the more vanilla Garcia. Like Ocasio-Cortez, Wiley is the kind of candidate you either love or hate. If you love her, she’s your first choice. If you hate her, you rank her last.
It seems that about 20 percent of the voters in the Democratic primary loved Wiley. Most of the remaining voters apparently had no use for her.
There are plenty of valid criticisms of ranked-choice voting, and I don’t advocate its use. However, in the absence of a runoff election (as is the case in New York City), it can serve as an alternative way of preventing candidates strongly disliked by a majority of voters from eking out victory with a low percentage of the total voted.
That’s what happened to Wiley. It’s possible it will happen to Adams, as well.