Archive for October, 2008

Ordering of candidates on 2008 California ballot

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

In California, the ordering of the presidential candidates is determined by lottery. Then to even it out, CA 13111(b) makes each subsequent assembly district rotate the list by one position. The system is not perfectly even–candidates neighbors are fixed, and similarly named candidates are guaranteed to be neighbors. However, it appears to be more fair than no rotation at all.

The lottery for November 4, 2008 ordered the entire alphabet, but only six letters were needed to order these candidates (in lottery order): M-C-K-N-O-B.

The table shows ballot ordering for each of California’s 80 assembly districts:

1, 7, 13, 19, 25, 31, 37, 43, 49, 55, 61, 67, 73, 79 2, 8, 14, 20, 26, 32, 38, 44, 50, 56, 62, 68, 74, 80 3, 9, 15, 21, 27, 33, 39, 45, 51, 57, 63, 69, 75 4, 10, 16, 22, 28, 34, 40, 46, 52, 58, 64, 70, 76 5, 11, 17, 23, 29, 35, 41, 47, 53, 59, 65, 71, 77 6, 12, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 54, 60, 66, 72, 78
MCCain
MCKinney
Keyes
Nader
Obama
Barr
MCKinney
Keyes
Nader
Obama
Barr
MCCain
Keyes
Nader
Obama
Barr
MCCain
MCKinney
Nader
Obama
Barr
MCCain
MCKinney
Keyes
Obama
Barr
MCCain
MCKinney
Keyes
Nader
Barr
MCCain
MCKinney
Keyes
Nader
Obama

Obama will appear above McCain on roughly 66% of the ballots. The flip side is that whenever Obama appears below McCain, he appears four names below McCain, instead of two. McCain may also get a small boost for being listed first in 14 assembly districts, compared to Obama’s 13.

Also interesting is that McCain is adjacent to McKinney on ~82.5% ballots, though fortunately for McCain, always ahead of McKinney. However, in the ~17.5% of district ballots where they are not adjacent, McKinney appears first while McCain appears last. Could an eager McCain voter accidentally mark the first “Mc” in sight? It would be easy to go back and see if the data shows McCain statistically under performing himself in those assembly districts.

All of San Francisco will notice that Obama appears either last or second-to-last. But since San Francisco residents are such conscientious voters, perhaps that is more of an irony than any disadvantage to Obama.