“After the first ballot, Palin trailed Peltola 40–31, with Nick Begich III in third with 29 percent. After Begich was eliminated and his ballots were re-tallied, Peltola prevailed over Palin 51–49.
In the days after Palin’s loss, prominent conservatives and Republicans criticized the new system for contributing to her defeat. After the results were announced, Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.) tweeted, “Ranked-choice voting is a scam to rig elections.” (Previously, he has referred to it as a “radical scheme.”) Palin herself called the system an “experiment” that’s “crazy, convoluted,” and “confusing.” In National Review, Jim Geraghty termedit “a legitimate electoral system…that doesn’t make sense.”
But it’s not ranked choice voting’s fault; Palin was simply a bad candidate.
Geraghty complained that ranked choice voting was “more complicated” than “the familiar ‘first past the post’ system,” that “the Democrats came out the big winner, even though their candidate finished fourth in the first round of voting.” This is true, though the third-place finalist, Al Gross, withdrew from the race after the June primary and encouraged his voters to support Peltola.
Cotton complained that even though “60% of Alaska voters voted for a Republican…a Democrat ‘won.'” This is also true, though notably they did not all vote for the same Republican. Begich and Palin collectively accounted for 59.8 percent of the first-round vote, but only about half of Begich’s voters chose Palin as their second choice; nearly 30 percent picked Peltola, while 21 percent did not choose a second or third choice.”
“Far from being some radically convoluted “scheme,” the most direct effect of ranked choice voting is to serve as an “instant runoff” by letting voters indicate which candidates they would prefer if their first or second choice didn’t win.”
“85 percent of Alaskan voters polled by Alaskans for Better Elections found the new system either “somewhat simple” or “very simple.””