The Tipping Point: The Impact of Candidate Field Size on Multi-Candidate Primaries in New York City

CCNY’s latest Ranked Choice Voting report focuses on the intersection of candidate field size and electoral outcomes. Our research shows:

  • Over the last three election cycles, the average number of candidates in multi-candidate primaries was 4-5 candidates. This number holds steady through 2009-2017 primary elections. 
  • However, the candidate field size dramatically impacts electoral outcomes. There is a precipitous decline in majority support winners once a primary fields 4 or more candidates. 
  • In 2013, the last primary election cycle with a wave of open seats, the trends held. Just 14.3% of the multi-candidate primaries for open seats produced majority support winners during the 2013 cycle. No race with 4 or more candidates produced a majority support winner.