With all five candidates closely bunched between 15 and 27%, Tuesday's Iowa City special primary would have been a great test case for ranked choice voting
Here's something you rarely see: All five candidates won precincts, and all five candidates finised last in precincts. Of course some of those "wins" were with 10 total votes or with 24%.
First place finisher Ann Freerks ran just a little bit better than the rest more or less across the board. But the decisive number: Bruce Teague beat Christine Ralston with big margins in precincts 2 and 6, both with lots of seniors (Oaknoll in 2, Legacy Pointe in 6). Take away either precinct, and Ralston is in 2nd.
That 18 vote margin is close, but not recount close. The closet ever city primary margin was in 2009 when Jared Bazzell trailed Dan Tallon for the fourth and last slot. (Tallon and fellow student Jeff Shipley were competing for the right to lose to Terry Dickens and Susan Mims; 2009 got decided on filing deadline day. Where are they now: Shipley is the GOP challenger to Democratic state Rep. Phil Miller in Fairfield-based House 82. End of tangent.)
Brianna Wills was wiped out (low single digit percents) in lefty
precincts 18 and 21 and in 20, mixed student/senior. Take away those
three precincts, and she jumps from 4th to 2nd.
Yet Wills and Ralston both came close enough to be credible for a 2019 run, when four seats are up. But Ryan Hall is in a weaker position than he was, after winning 41% last year. In retrospect it seems clear that a lot of that 41% was votes against incumbent Susan Mims, rather than for Hall.
The first choice of both labor (Ralston) and the Chamber of Commerce (Wills) lost, so it will be interesting to see alliances shift in next 28 days.
Turnout was about 1000 more than I expected. I thought the compressed cycle and the shadow of the general election would lower turnout. But it appears that Iowa City wants to squeeze in a full-fledged city election cycle. The real loser may be the Democratic ticket as this city council vacancy sucks up a lot of energy in the most Democratic county.