Donors rank mayoral candidates with dollars for multiple campaigns. Here is who wins
The next mayor’s primary on June 22 will mark the first time New Yorkers will vote by style of choice in a city-wide election.
The few independent public opinion polls to date show Andrew Yang leading the Democratic race, followed by Eric Adams.
But polls aren’t the only signs of who’s ahead and behind – or how the ranking can play out after voters cast their ballot. While the majority of donors gave money to just one candidate, records from the city’s Campaign Finance Council show some contributions covered their bets by donating to multiple Democratic campaigns.
THE CITY set out to see how the 2,360 donors from multiple campaigns’ ranked ‘the candidates they support by looking at who got the most and the least money as of March 11, the date of the most recent contributors’ disclosure filings. to the board.
For example, if a donor gave Maya Wiley $ 100, Dianne Morales $ 50, and Scott Stringer $ 25, their ranking would be Wiley, Morales, Stringer.
So how did the candidates fare in this early test of how supporters divide their preferences?
The first choice among donors who have donated to more than one candidate is Morales. She received 16% of donations from people who gave to more than one campaign.
During that time, she raised the fewest dollars among the candidates who raised enough money to qualify for the city’s Campaign Finance Council debates that begin on May 13.
Ranked choice voting, Morales said, “gave people permission to support more than one candidate.”
For donations ranked first, Morales was followed by Stringer, Wiley, Ray McGuire and Shaun Donovan in a 13% tie.
Wiley won the most number of rankings second, out of a fifth of multiple nominee donors. The Wiley campaign did not respond to requests for comment.
Ranking with dollars
The ranked-choice voting system prompts candidates to team up with one another, in an effort to mop up the votes of each other’s supporters if that enemy fails at the polls.
If no candidate gets more than 51% of the first place votes, then those with the fewest votes will have their votes redistributed to their supporters’ second place picks, and so on, until a candidate from each party comes out on top.
Supporters of tiered choice voting say the donations are a sign the new system is already having an impact on city politics.
“Individual voters know that tiered choice voting gives them a chance to maybe help their second choice if they can’t help their first, and people who donate know it too,” said Deb Otis, senior research analyst at FairVote. “It shows that people intuitively understand how to rank candidates, whether it’s ranking in the ballot box or ranking with your portfolio.”
Take, for example, Rebecca Linn-Walton, senior assistant vice president of the Office of Behavioral Health at New York Health + Hospitals. She gave Wiley $ 335, Kathryn Garcia $ 250, and Morales and Stringer $ 25 each.
She has donated for campaigns in other elections, but this is the first time she has donated with tiered choice considerations.
“I usually pick a pony and put all my bets on them, and the ranking pick is really helpful because I’ve been able to think about who I want to put more support behind,” Linn-Walton said. “I ended up trying to give money to everyone I wanted to vote for.”
While not totally fixed on her ranking, the two biggest donations reflect who she leans towards when she fills out her ballot.
She wanted to make sure Wiley and Garcia got matched public funds – which they did: $ 2.8 million and $ 2.3 million, respectively. (Linn-Walton later said she thought their responses to the allegations of sexual misconduct against Stringer were “inspiring.”)
Rockefeller spreads money
Under the BFC’s public matching fund program, campaigns receive $ 8 for every dollar raised from a city resident, up to $ 250 from each donor. (Lobbyists and municipal contractors are excluded.)
As Linn-Walton, David Rockefeller, Jr., made a series of campaign donations with hierarchical choice voting in mind, his spokesperson confirmed.
Rockefeller gave Donovan, McGuire and Wiley $ 5,100, $ 1,000 and $ 250, respectively – contributing the maximum allowed to Donovan under a former $ 6 to $ 1 matching program in which he was the only one among the applicants. remaining. Rockefeller and his wife, Susan, also donated $ 25,000 each to an independent committee to benefit Donovan.
Other donors have stated that they are not consciously giving with an intention of ranked choice. These include lawyer Dominique Bravo, who donated $ 2,000 to Art Chang, $ 1,000 to Wiley, $ 400 to Morales and $ 250 to Donovan.
“I’ve known Art Chang for over 25 years and admire him tremendously so I gave him the most,” Bravo said. But she also knows Morales and Wiley and admires them too. Donovan also stands out for her.
All of them “are very much aligned with my progressive values,” Bravo said, adding that she hasn’t quite decided how she would rank them when it really matters in June.
Some prominent multi-candidate donors weren’t as open to giving money to multiple Democratic nomination contestants.
A spokesperson for Chris Hughes, a Facebook founder who co-chairs the Economic Security Project, declined to comment on his donation of $ 5,100 to Donovan’s campaign and three donations of up to $ 2,000 each to Adams, Garcia and Stringer.
Steve Rattner, CEO of Willett Advisors LLC, which oversees the assets of the super rich, including former billionaire mayor Mike Bloomberg, gave Donovan and McGuire $ 5,100 each and Adams and Stringer $ 2,000 each. Rattner did not respond to requests for comment.
It is not unusual for the big guys to give out multiple candidates. And donations don’t always translate into votes: Some contributors may donate to campaigns but won’t vote in the primary, usually because they aren’t registered New York Democrats.
“Our donor base is very different from our electoral base,” said Lupe Todd-Medina, spokesperson for McGuire.
As of March 11, McGuire had raised $ 7.4 million, according to city records – more than the next three candidates have raised. Unlike its rivals, it does not participate in the government matching fund program, freeing it from strict limits on the dollars each donor can give to a candidate.
Eric Adams raised $ 2.9 million, Donovan $ 2.2 million and Yang $ 2.1 million, not including matching funds. As of March 11, Yang had received more than 20,000 contributions, more than any other candidate, with an average of $ 106 per donation.
More than half of Yang’s donors reside outside New York City, a distinction no other candidate shares.
Garcia, Wiley and Morales lag behind in total fundraising, but have benefited from matching public funds made available to local donors.
The Campaign Finance Council says the total number of contributions up to March 11 – around 89,000 – exceeds 63,000 for the entire primary cycle of 2013.
“We have passed any previous high for the number of contributions and are still two months away from the primary,” said Matt Sollars, a spokesperson for the Campaign Finance Board. “The volume of activity revealed to us by candidates is increasing.”
Proponents of ranked choice say an increase in donations is an expected effect of a new system designed to get more candidates running and increase voter engagement overall. The turnout in the 2013 primaries was only 23% of eligible voters.
“More and more candidates are running in ranked choice elections and an important factor in voter turnout is whether a voter has someone on the ballot that they feel connected with,” said Otis of FairVote. . “An electoral style that opens an election with more votes will have the effect of getting more people to vote.”