Blog: Hamline Political Science Professor David Schultz's Thoughts on Ranked Choice Voting

Updated: 11/06/2013 11:56 PM
Created: 11/06/2013 9:52 PM
By: David Schultz

The mayoral elections in Minneapolis and St Paul could not have been any different. 

One was loud and unscripted the other peaceful and predictable. 

Both spoke to the character of the two cities and what they mean for their futures.  Minneapolis’ election was a generation changer preparing the city for the future while in St. Paul it was an endorsement of the status quo holding the city in the past. But in both cases, ranked choice voting (RCV) successfully did its job.  

The elections in the two cities spoke hugely of their futures and characters. Minneapolis’s election was about a generational change. It was the older DFL being replaced by a new generation of Democrats. 

The old labor-led, white establishment DFL lined up behind Mark Andrew while the new demographics of a racially and politically changing city behind Hodges. Andrew is a solid and noble DFLer, but he is old school at a time when Minneapolis is changing. 

Although the results are not final, it's mathematically certain Betsy Hodges will win. 

Hodges along with seven new council members means Minneapolis is set for the shift to the future with a new agenda for a new constituency. If Obama in 2008 represented the transition from Baby Boomer to Gen X and Millennial politics at the national level, this is what happened on Tuesday in Minneapolis.

Not so in St Paul. Chris Coleman is perhaps the last mayor of the old St Paul DFL. He is part of the old Irish Catholic DFL constituency that his father represented. 

He represents the past of a DFL party that still controls the city with many council members still playing old school politics. It is the coalition of traditional labor unions and party insiders. It is the politics of downtown ballpark stadiums and public subsidies for economic development projects. Coleman is the mayor of Baby Boomers seeking to hang on one more time.

In some ways, the people of both cities got what they wanted, or at least elected mayors suited to their personalities. 

Minneapolis is the hip, cool, and forward city looking to the future. St Paul is stodgier, less prone to change, and more stuck in tradition than its sister across the Mississippi. 

The mayoral elections represent a tale of two cities and a contrast in the way they handled changing generational politics.

This blog was written by Hamline political science professor and analyst David Schultz.

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