Month: November 2013

‘White Flight’ Hits Nation’s Law Schools

…Is up on The Am Law Daily.

It’s pretty stark stuff, perfectly timed for a holiday in which white Americans play a leading part.

[Forgot to mention, The Law School Tuition Bubble has been nominated as one of the ABA Journal‘s “Blawg 100.” Here’s its description:

“New York City-based JD and writer Matt Leichter combats rhetoric about the cost-benefit analysis of a legal education—particularly for those who have to borrow vast sums of money for school—with research, which he archives. Leichter devours enrollment data and employment data, finds what’s interesting and lays it out. He also finds other news articles and op-eds on his chosen topic, links to them and picks them apart.”

If you are so inclined, the link for voting is here.]

Here’s some West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band.



Fun fact, the Wikipedia says vocalist Bob Markley was a law school graduate. Of course this was before 1960 and he was the adopted son of a wealthy oil man.

No, It’s Still Not a Good Time to Apply to Law School

Forbes contributor and University of Washington law professor Ryan Calo gives three reasons people should apply to law school if “bad news” has otherwise discouraged them.

(1)  “Fewer applicants means schools compete fiercely for decent students.”

So what? Getting into a slightly more reputable school still doesn’t mean that career-spanning legal positions will be there on graduation. Similarly, excessive tuition minus scholarships often still equals excessive tuition. Scholarships are given to the extent they keep a student from matriculating elsewhere, not to ensure students get good deals.

(2)  “A lot of law jobs will be opening up over the next five to ten years.”

Calo writes:

“The demographics are such that knowledgeable folks like the head of the Washington Bar Association are predicting a market gap.  They worry that future demand for legal services cannot be met by a dwindling supply.”

“Knowledgeable folks” should look at their state government’s data. Washington is projected to add 460 new lawyer jobs per year between 2010 and 2020. The state admitted 1,148 lawyers in 2012 alone. Reasonable people can question the accuracy of the projections, but they do estimate a replacement rate based on current occupational demographics and typical retirement rates. A shortfall in projected jobs due to slow growth is plausible, an unprecedented wave of boomer retirements is not.

Since Calo’s is the second report this week to argue that the medium-run situation is improving, let me add a few points:

  • In order to count, future law graduate jobs must be indefinite-duration, career-track positions that require a law degree or the knowledge and skills imparted in law school. No part-timers, no definite-duration full-time jobs, and decent starting client bases for self-employed lawyers.
  • No law professor positions. “JDs to create more JDs” is unsustainable, and there are more than enough law professors now.
  • Similarly, there should be minimal job displacement by new grads of old graduates. Certainly there are times when more productive newer graduates outperform older ones, but these situations should be the exception.
  • Employed graduates must be able to maintain a respectable living standard, save for retirement, and repay some of their loans. I’m willing to bend my opinion of IBR’s loan-cancelation feature in this context, but jobs for graduates who face massive tax penalties in twenty years do not count.

Because of the large backlog of JDs out there, secure jobs and compensation are a long way off, even if the number of graduates falls below the number of jobs created annually.

(3)  “Reports of the death of the legal market are greatly exaggerated.”

This line’s my favorite:

“I simply do not agree with the predictions that the legal market will, uniquely, fail to rebound with the rest of the economy.”

The unique failure of the legal sector to recover along with the economy is not a prediction. It’s an empirical fact.

Real GDP & Legal Sector Value Added (Billions 2005 $)

(Source: BEA)

Calo cites claims of clients’ disenchantment with biglaw and technological advances as driving a shift in demand for legal services. I agree that these phenomena may be exaggerated, but there is no reason to be optimistic about long-term trends, particularly in smalllaw.

Primarily, young Americans aren’t making money, so they aren’t getting married or building wealth (whether genuine or positional assets). Without wealth there’s little need to hire lawyers to draft wills and the like. Without marriages, people aren’t getting divorced (this might be good overall but not necessarily for lawyers, sadly). Without investment, people won’t start new businesses. Wealth concentration benefits a handful of lawyers handsomely, but overall the profession suffers.

In sum, the bad news about law jobs is in fact bad news about law jobs.

Brilliant People Still Applying to Law School

…Or at least “people who can crush standardized tests” are still applying to law school.

[Mini-Update: For those who’ve read Jerry Organ’s recent writing on the subject, I don’t imply that he’s one of the people arguing that the “wrong people” are applying to law school because he didn’t argue that. Two, the reason he found a greater high-end LSAT decline than I did is that he estimated the applicant profiles into 2013 and I didn’t. His projections may prove correct, but at the very least the initial decline started in the upper-middle LSAT band and has accelerated to the high end.]

I’m not going to go out of my way to cite them, but I’ve seen it asserted that the “wrong people” are choosing not to apply to law school. By “wrong people” they mean those with high GPAs and LSAT scores, aka those who keep civilization from fragmenting into warring states. Focusing only on LSAT scores—as they’re most comparable—the story is a little more complicated. Sure, the collapse in applicants has skewed towards the high end of the LSAT spectrum, but for the most part, the decline has been in the middle.

Here’s 2012 compared to 2010.

No. Applicants by LSAT Score

And here’s the percent decline in each bracket.

Percent Change Number of Applicants by LSAT Score Bracket

So yes, there’s been a big drop at the high end, but overall the decline has been distributed normally as the first chart implies. Here’s the apportionment:

Percent Fewer Applicants Share of Total Decline by Lsat Score

(n=-20,479 applicants)

Pretty much a bell curve. Importantly, more than 60 percent would’ve gotten an LSAT score below 160. The 165+ range doesn’t account for 15 percent of the total decline. Lesson: Those concerned that the best and brightest aren’t interested in law school can rest easy; no warring states! It’s the upper-middle brackets, 150-164 (64 percent!), that are driving the applicant drop.

(Source: LSAC National Decision Profiles)

And for some fun, here’s the decline in law schools’ full-time matriculants’ LSAT scores by their 2014 edition U.S. News rankings.

2010-2012 LSAT Score Decline by U.S. News Category (2014 Edition)

(Slight whoopsie: the middle set of bars should be 51-100. Also, not published (“NP”) includes the unranked University of La Verne, not that it makes much of a difference.)

Looking at this makes me wonder aloud: How far can these numbers drop before employers start worrying about credential dilution at some higher-ranked schools? Or does the sheepskin outweigh the entering credentials?

Stealth Layoffs Revealed?

I’ve been spending some time gathering law school faculty data from the Official Guide for future posts. I still have to Reinhart my Rogoffs, but I think the numbers I’ve entered are accurate. Here’s a quick-and-dirty history of full-time law school faculty since 1998.

Total Full-Time Law School Faculty (ex. PR)

Noticeably, the number has dropped in fall 2012.

I bring this up in part thanks to Paul Campos’ post on law school budget deficits. The question I asked myself is: To what extent are these deficits caused by shrinking class sizes and to what extent by far larger faculty than in the past? Put differently, if law schools pared down their headcounts to what they were in 1999, would they be able to continue to function? It may mean the difference between law school life and doom.


Law School Faculty & Enrollment (1999=100)This chart excludes the Puerto Rico law schools too, by the way, but it’s pretty clear that this year (2013) will see the first “real” full-time enrollment crunch relative to the 1999 base year. And yes, the average law school has 37 percent more full-time professors than in 1999; I’m astonished too.

And just which law schools appear to be shedding faculty?

Below is a table of the top 20 (’cause I know you lo~ve your lists) law schools by number of fewer full-time faculty. I have checked these numbers, so they are correct.

1. Indiana (Indianapolis) 42 8 -34
2. Puerto Rico 23 4 -19
3. New York Law School 70 57 -13
4. St. John’s 52 39 -13
5. La Verne 19 8 -11
6. California-Hastings 67 57 -10
7. Stetson 58 48 -10
8. Catholic 52 43 -9
9. Florida Coastal 69 60 -9
10. Nevada 32 23 -9
11. Hamline 34 26 -8
12. San Diego 55 47 -8
13. Seton Hall 49 41 -8
14. Texas 83 75 -8
15. Georgia State 50 43 -7
16. New Hampshire 21 14 -7
17. Pace 48 41 -7
18. Roger Williams 27 20 -7
19. Golden Gate 36 30 -6
20. McGeorge 49 43 -6

Caveat #1: It’s pretty clear that some schools are really bad at reporting their faculty information to the ABA. I seriously doubt Indianapolis only had eight full-time professors on hand last fall. The number should probably be 38. Same goes for Puerto Rico. Both schools appeared to miss a digit when filling out the forms. La Verne, on the other hand, is more plausible. Recall that it had a severe enrollment crunch in 2012 because it’d lost its provisional accreditation the year before. Still, it’s pretty surprising that half the professors would be shown the door.

Caveat #2: The faculty numbers the schools report to the ABA tend to be somewhat volatile. It’s not uncommon for a school to report 5 more full-time professors one year and then lose them all the next. I doubt this is just sabbaticals, which are uncounted. [Mini-update: Some of these changes are also undoubtedly due to faculty moving between schools, which makes it harder to attribute declines (or increases) to law profs being shown the door.]

Bear these two points in mind as you gaze upon the table of law schools that added full-time professors to the rolls in fall 2012.

1. Charlotte 39 62 23
2. Columbia 127 142 15
3. South Dakota 1 15 14
4. Denver 62 73 11
5. Mississippi 17 28 11
6. Georgetown 130 140 10
7. Yale 61 71 10
8. Harvard 116 125 9
9. John Marshall (Atlanta) 40 49 9
10. Phoenix 32 41 9
11. Northwestern 76 84 8
12. Pontifical Catholic 21 29 8
13. Ohio State 38 45 7
14. City University 34 39 5
15. North Carolina 44 49 5
16. Notre Dame 49 54 5
17. Pepperdine 35 40 5
18. Akron 26 30 4
19. California-Los Angeles 72 76 4
20. Duke 55 59 4

Again, there is no way South Dakota taught all its fall courses law-prof-of-one-style. I’m also dubious that even Columbia hired 15 more full-time professors. Then again, one-fourth of the schools here are in U.S. News‘ T-14, plus UCLA. Three are for-profits, though one for-profit was in the bottom-20 list.

Caveat #3: This is only full-time professors. There’s still a surge in part-timers and other types that I haven’t documented here.

Ultimately, law schools’ budgets are being pulled down by both filled offices and empty seats, but so far the data say it’s more the former than the latter.

Why Would Admissions Offices Think the LSAT Nosedive Is Temporary?

The National Law Journal ran an article recently about the low October 2013 LSAT numbers. It quoted Drexel law professor Dan Filler saying, “I think there was a kind of optimism bias among a lot of people in the academy, and maybe a sense of disbelief that the number of applicants could and would continue to decline.” Later he said that some law deans had requested funding from their universities arguing that the nosedive would “reverse or at least level out.” The University of Michigan’s Sarah Zearfoss also opined that “admissions officials” believed the low drop in June LSATs this year indicated a leveling off.

These statements are all hearsay, but that doesn’t mean we must disbelieve them. Nevertheless, the “surprised” response raises the obvious question: Why do law schools and parent universities believe that people will suddenly start taking the LSAT and applying to law school again or that the decline will stop?

To begin with, past experience indicates that law schools should be booming right now as young people are thoroughly jobless. I’ve been sitting on this for a few months, but now I think it’s time to trot it out: The 2001 Official Guide contains the total number of LSATs administered going back to 1963. If you want “past experience,” this is it.

Enrollment, LSAT, & Application Data

(Source: ABA, LSAC)

I count five peak-to-trough cycles: 1973-1980, 1981-1985, 1990-1997, 2002-2005, and 2009-2012+.

Here are their average annual rates of decline. (I’m not going to bother compounding them.)

CYCLE Average Annual Growth Rate
1973-1980 -3.12%
1981-1985 -6.31%
1990-1997 -5.29%
2002-2005 -2.42%
2009-2012+ -13.07%

So yes, in case you were wondering, the current annual decline is more than twice as steep as any previous one, the only caveat being that the typical composition of first-time and repeat test-takers might be significantly different from previous years because of the rule-change allowing law schools to report applicants’ highest LSAT scores rather than averaging them.

Whether the 2013-14 administration year will be lower than the 1997-98 one (103,991) is disputable, but given that there were fewer total applicants in 2012 than 1985, it’s possible that first-time takers are at an all-time low going back to the 1960s. The last 1L low point was 1986 (40,195), and 2013 might have crossed that line. If it hasn’t, 2014 probably will.

Another observation worth noting from the chart: 2012 was the first year that there were more graduates than 1Ls, a phenomenon that should continue for the next few years until a trough is reached. It further illustrates the steepness of the current nosedive(s).

…Which returns us to the question of why the academy is surprised we’re not there yet. Looking at the older LSAT data demonstrates just how countercyclical demand for legal education was until 2009. Each of the LSAT peaks pretty much coincides with recession years: 1973, 1981, 1990, 2002, and 2009. The troughs coincide with recoveries. I’m recalling that Slate article from a few months back rationalizing the applicant nosedive on what now passes for “economic recovery.” You get the point, though. It would be one thing if the economy had recovered rapidly, but it didn’t at all. This is the first “cyclical” downturn in LSATs.

Part of the academy’s surprise, I guess, is that belief in the human capital hypothesis in a sense cuts both ways. Law schools continue to believe (and argue) that their degrees make people more productive and aren’t at all positional goods. It follows that they would be surprised that LSATs/applicants/1Ls/etc. would decline past the boundaries of the normal cycles in legal education over the last few decades.

I suppose at some point an equilibrium will be reached because some law schools can credibly promise their graduates access to elite law careers, regardless of biglaw’s fortunes. For instance, going by the Current Population Survey and Occupational Outlook Handbook, all levels of government reliably employ roughly 127,000 to 160,000 lawyers, about 16-18 percent of the total. That, and demand for legislators, judges, and corporate honchos of various stripes will keep law a winning career for some. When the alternative is underemployment, elite law schools will always be able to find people willing to graduate with higher debt-to-income ratios than their predecessors.

A lot of other people will continue to attend due to misinformation, believing that the degree will signal more than it does. At some point the damage done to them will be mitigated whenever student loan reform comes along, but you can’t prevent everyone who shouldn’t go from going, especially when they face desperate unemployment as an alternative too.

As a final, philosophizing note, I see the irreparable, generational shift in attitudes toward law school as a limited political victory against Americans’ fetish for positional goods. (I use “positional” rather than “Veblen” because I’ve come to think all Veblen goods are either positional goods or some other explainable exception to the neoclassical theory of demand.) The sequence of events is: see wealthy with positional goods, get angry, legislate subsidy for poor people to access positional goods (student loans, subprime mortgages), watch poor get poorer fighting their way up the ladder, and then spitefully deny them liquidation rights.

I don’t expect admissions officials to agree, but I am interested in what their response will be in the next couple years when the numbers of LSATs, applicants, and 1Ls reach record lows going back as far as most of the profession can remember.

I would, however, like it if people and politicians recognized that subsidizing zero-sum wealth is self-defeating.

Ranked-Choice Voting Failed Minneapolis

A few points to follow up on the 2013 Minneapolis mayoral election, which used ranked-choice voting (RCV) ballots that allow voters to rank their three favorite candidates (out of 35).

(1)  After two full days of counting, Betsy Hodges was declared the winner. She ultimately received 38,870 votes (48.95%), Mark Andrew 24,972 (31.44%), and 15,573 (19.61%) votes were “exhausted.”

(2)  Hodges did not receive a majority of the votes (so much for upholding the principle of majority rule, FairVote Minnesota), and the one-in-five voters who were denied the right to vote in the final runoff were larger in number than Hodges’ victory margin.

(3)  The counting took so long for two reasons: there were 35 candidates, and the city’s ordinance only allowed multiple-candidate (batch) elimination when their votes could not allow another candidate to move up in the rankings. As it turned out, the margins between the candidates were so small as to prevent batch elimination until the final two rounds on Thursday night. The ordinance might be changed to allow batch elimination when it’s “mathematically impossible for candidates to win.” However, technically this would still allow for a situation in which a low-first-vote candidate would’ve snowballed to a majority over time. “Mathematically impossible” indeed.

(4)  As for the 35 candidates, the City Council swiftly and unanimously voted to raise the candidate filing fee from $20 to $500.

(5)  The wide field of candidates was largely a distraction. RCV essentially told voters that they were allowed to indulge themselves by choosing the candidates they liked, but in the end if they wanted their votes to actually count, they had to vote strategically. FairVote Minnesota’s claims that RCV opens up the political playing field to newcomers is substantively untrue. To be fair, though, it’s possible some candidates will be able to use their recognition to enter city or state politics. Their successors will have to pay $500 for the privilege, however.

(6)  RCV only benefited a minority of voters. Here, 9,908 of Hodges’ 38,870 votes (25%) and 5,324 of Andrew’s 24,972 (21%) were transfers. They sum to 15,232 votes, which was 19% of the 79,415 votes cast. More votes were “exhausted” than transferred to either candidate in the final runoff. All of Hodges’ and Andrew’s remaining voters might as well have not bothered in ranking their ballots. The rest needn’t’ve bothered voting for mayor at all. Consequently, in 2013, the system was enormously wasteful.

(7)  From what little research I’ve done, RCV has been held constitutional once by the Ninth Circuit when a San Francisco resident (Dudum) sued the city claiming he was denied due process. The federal court’s response was essentially, “Shit happens in voting.” In Minneapolis, one in five votes were totally wasted—and not even in the sense that voting for a third-party candidate in a plurality election is throwing votes away (although Minnesota is exceptional for its successful third-party candidates and parties).

So when the FairVote dogmatists come to your community, just remember that RCV creates the illusion of fairness and costing much more for the effort.

UnFairVote Minnesota

Turn off your TV set, recycle that New York Times, and close your CNN browser tab, folks, ’cause none of them are reporting on the real election news of 2013: the undemocratic—and probably unconstitutional—Minneapolis municipal election!

The people of the world’s former flour-milling capital were duped into adopting a “ranked-choice” voting (RCV) system, a variant of instant-runoff voting (IRV). In RCV, voters rank their top three candidates (rather than all of them in IRV) from the entire pool. If no candidate receives an outright majority (as St. Paul’s incumbent mayor Chris Coleman did this year), then the candidate receiving the fewest votes is eliminated, and his or her votes are redistributed to their voters’ next choice(s). The process is repeated until a candidate wins a majority of votes.

Like many progressive responses to obvious problems, it’s the next worst solution—if not an even worse one—to plurality voting. (For the record, range voting, e.g. giving each candidate on the ballot a score from 0 to 4 with an affirmative “no opinion” option is the best voting system for single-member seats. The candidate with the highest average score wins. Special rules apply, such as minimum vote-share requirements for write-in candidates to prevent them from stealing elections.)

RCV and IRV suffer from numerous problems, some of which are novel to people used to plurality voting. For one, vote counts must be centralized and aren’t possible at the precinct or ward level—not impossible to accomplish but slower and more inefficient. The other problem is that IRV/RCV raises the number of spoiled ballots. If people rank the same candidate twice, for instance, their votes might be thrown out. Such errors don’t necessarily invalidate all overvotes, but it happens. Thus, IRV-type elections regularly result in more spoiled and erroneous ballots than plurality vote elections. Take that lizard people voters!

From the 2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate election, which resulted in a recount. Supposedly this person intended to vote for Franken, but his vote was thrown out as an overvote. Personally, I disagree because he didn’t circle the oval next to “Write-in, if any”.

The proponent of the new method is an outfit called FairVote Minnesota, which gives ten reasons to favor RCV over plurality voting (I think):

1).  Upholds the principle of majority rule

Not this year! Here are Minneapolis’ 2013 results, sorted by party and then total votes:

NAME Party 1ST 2ND 3RD Pct. Total (1st) Pct. Total (2nd) Pct. Total (3rd)
Captain Jack Sparrow Count All Rankings 264 583 1,440 0.3% 0.8% 2.4%
Bob “Again” Carney Demand Transit Revolution 56 98 172 0.1% 0.1% 0.3%
Betsy Hodges DFL 28,935 14,399 6,742 36.6% 20.8% 11.2%
Mark Andrew DFL 19,584 12,757 8,977 24.8% 18.4% 14.9%
Don Samuels DFL 8,335 14,170 11,178 10.5% 20.5% 18.5%
Jackie Cherryhomes DFL 3,524 6,470 8,045 4.5% 9.3% 13.3%
Bob Fine DFL 2,094 3,751 4,506 2.6% 5.4% 7.5%
Stephanie Woodruff DFL 1,010 2,128 2,633 1.3% 3.1% 4.4%
Alicia K. Bennett DFL 351 628 854 0.4% 0.9% 1.4%
Jeffrey Alan Wagner DFL 164 292 375 0.2% 0.4% 0.6%
Gregg A. Iverson DFL 144 215 437 0.2% 0.3% 0.7%
Doug Mann Green Party 779 1,052 1,105 1.0% 1.5% 1.8%
Rahn V. Workcuff Independence 65 118 162 0.1% 0.2% 0.3%
Neal Baxter Independent 145 337 493 0.2% 0.5% 0.8%
John Leslie Hartwig Independent 97 185 248 0.1% 0.3% 0.4%
Cam Winton Independent Responsible Inclusive 7,511 3,751 3,974 9.5% 5.4% 6.6%
Merrill Anderson Jobs & Justice 108 190 216 0.1% 0.3% 0.4%
Dan Cohen Jobs, Downtown Casino 1,798 2,283 2,072 2.3% 3.3% 3.4%
Bill Kahn Last Minneapolis Mayor 97 164 194 0.1% 0.2% 0.3%
John Charles Wilson Lauraist Communist 37 66 112 0.0% 0.1% 0.2%
Edmund Bernard Bruyere Legacy-Next Generation 70 59 83 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%
Christopher Clark Libertarian 188 449 531 0.2% 0.6% 0.9%
Christopher Robin Zimmerman Libertarian 170 435 422 0.2% 0.6% 0.7%
Troy Benjegerdes Local Energy/Food 148 224 323 0.2% 0.3% 0.5%
Kurtis W. Hanna Pirate Party 200 250 418 0.3% 0.4% 0.7%
Ole Savior Republican 693 795 657 0.9% 1.1% 1.1%
Mark V Anderson Simplify Government 975 1,035 905 1.2% 1.5% 1.5%
Tony Lane Socialist Workers Party 219 265 397 0.3% 0.4% 0.7%
Jaymie Kelly Stop Foreclosures Now 196 419 412 0.2% 0.6% 0.7%
Abdul M Rahaman We the People … 338 363 367 0.4% 0.5% 0.6%
James Everett 347 550 806 0.4% 0.8% 1.3%
Mike Gould 204 368 548 0.3% 0.5% 0.9%
Joshua Rea 108 190 267 0.1% 0.3% 0.4%
James L. Stroud 64 98 154 0.1% 0.1% 0.3%
Cyd Gorman 39 96 136 0.0% 0.1% 0.2%
TOTAL 79,057 69,233 60,361 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%


Although the purported winner is DFLer (that’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor for you Minnesota history dunces) Betsy Hodges, it’s savagely obvious that a majority of voters wanted someone other than her to be mayor. In fact, while DFL candidates received a de Blasionian 81.1 percent of the total vote, 55 percent of them still were against Hodges.

To say that many of these voters may’ve chosen Hodges as their second or third choices so their votes “really counted in the end” is condescending, semantic nonsense because it tells those voters that their first or second choices weren’t serious. She might have been the “Condorcet winner,” i.e. the candidate who would’ve beaten all other candidates in head-to-head matchups, but it doesn’t matter because RCV leaves that question in dispute. The 2013 Minneapolis mayoral election results blatantly discredit FairVote Minnesota’s claims that RCV upholds majority rule.

2). Eliminates “wasted” votes

Tell that to anyone whose three candidates were eliminated, a phenomenon that makes RCV even worse than IRV and plurality voting. Indeed, because some votes (probably) weren’t included in the runoffs, eliminated voters had no say in who was ultimately elected mayor. This is probably a denial of due process.

3).  Solves the “spoiler” problem and gives voters more choice

Given that a majority of DFLers, to say nothing of the other 19 percent of voters, preferred someone other than Hodges, some of the candidates must have been spoilers ipso facto.

4).  Increases voter participation

The StarTribune says turnout was higher in 2001.

5).  Opens the political process to new voices

…Who are promptly eliminated.

Okay, I concede. Nine DFLers taking 81.1 percent of the vote is better than one.

6).  Promotes more diverse representation

Sure, if you think minority, plurality candidates count as “diverse.”

7).  Reduces negative campaigning and promotes civil, issue oriented campaigns

Or it promotes rancorous intraparty fights as candidates accuse one another of spoiling the election in favor of a plurality leader like Hodges.

8).  Mitigates political polarization

What? Just a second ago we were getting diversity and now we’re getting moderation? What could be more polarizing than minority candidates winning and votes being eliminated before the final runoff?

9).  Combines two elections in one so that voters only have to make one trip to the polls and taxpayers have to pay for only one election

Tell that to the people who picked for their first or second choices any of the candidates who lost to Hodges but weren’t eliminated. If, for example, DFLer Mark Andrew came in second, all 19,584 of his first-choice voters only got to vote once, i.e. their second and third choices were wasted votes, which we’re told don’t exist. Some people’s votes counted thrice, some once, and some not at all.

10).  Reduces the cost of campaigning

Maybe, unless an internecine fight erupts over who’s spoiling the election and should drop out. Technically, RCV encourages “candidate cloning” by opposing parties. (Hey Mayor-elect Hodges, how much will you pay me to move to Minneapolis, throw down the $20 registration fee to run as another DFLer in the next election and split up the vote even further so you’ll win next time? Republicans? I’m totally a mercenary candidate.)

To be clear, none of this is to say that Hodges will make a poor mayor, or that she was an unpopular candidate, but she is not the person most Minneapolitans voted for via RCV. This contradiction is so self-evident that it lacks the subtlety to qualify as Orwellian.

Minneapolis: Where “one person, one vote” and majority rule crawl into a plastic bag to die.


And while the LSTB is in Minneapolis, my favorite question from the Star Tribune‘s meet-the-30-candidates article is “Ideas to lower property taxes.” Because, why make Beacon Investment Properties LLC, owner of the 57-story IDS Center and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc., owner of the 32-story Foshay Tower pay for the never-won-a-Superbowl Viking’s new stadium when the city can just confiscate poor people’s wages with another sales tax hike? How else are wealthy, foreign, feudal land speculators supposed to make a living? Their own labor? Heavens no.