Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose: Vox‘s final GUSA pre-election analysis
After two grueling weeks of campaigning, two debates, endless endorsements, and too many Harlem Shakes videos, it’s about time to vote. The Election Commission is minutes away from sending the University-wide email instructing students to cast their ballots for their preferred candidates for the GUSA executive.
Candidates will be placed in ballot order randomly by the Election Commission. The five candidates plus one write in slot will be available for students to rank one through five.
GUSA uses instant runoff voting for all elections. This scheme eliminates the spoiler effect so student can rank their true first preference without fear of throwing the election away.
If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the first round of voting, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and each vote is reapportioned to the number two preference that the voter listed. If the new distribution of votes gives a candidate the majority, then the election is called. If not, the method is repeated until a candidate amasses a majority.
Last year, only 30 percent of students ranked Clara Gustafson (SFS ’13) and Vail Kohnert-Yount (SFS ’13) first on their ballots. That number only gradually climbed to 57 percent after six instant runoff rounds. Mike Meaney (SFS ’12) and Greg Laverriere (COL ’12) won the year before with only 30 percent of first choice votes and received a majority after four rounds of elimination.
Only about 50 percent of students are expected to vote.
In theory, with this scheme, it’s possible to elect an executive team that didn’t receive the highest number of first-round votes, but that doesn’t generally happen because GUSA candidates are rarely divisive: Few factions exist in GUSA that are measurable school-wide. As such, second-place votes are generally proportional to first-place votes.
Tonight’s news of secret societies, however, injects a level of uncertainty into the election. Merited or not, some candidates will probably be hurt by ties to secretive organizations which students consider either elitist or corrupt. There will be a stronger element of division in the student body than in years previous, making instant runoff voting produce more unpredictable results.
In Vox‘s flash poll earlier, 56 percent of respondents said they would not change their vote in light of the news, while 29 percent said they would change their vote. The remaining 15 percent said they might. While the 232-person sample is small, even a 20 percent shift in voting patterns could decide who becomes president and who doesn’t.
In Vox‘s opinion, Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) and Adam Ramadan (SFS ’14) have the momentum going into the election: He recently came out on top in Vox‘s straw poll, he recently overtook Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson (SFS ’14) and Joe Vandegriff (COL ’14) in number of Facebook likes, and he seems to be winning the endorsement game. While all imperfect indicators, winning candidates Clara and Vail exhibited all three last year as well.
Furthermore, Tisa emphasizes more accessible issues than does his most prominent rivals Jack Appelbaum (COL ’14) and Maggie Cleary (COL ’14), who focus on reforming SAC. The average Leo’s-going Georgetown student only vaguely knows what SAC is—even less than he or she knows what GUSA does. While Appelbaum’s wonkish campaign may inspire passion in some students, from Vox‘s perspective, his campaign doesn’t match Tisa’s in excitement.
Easily running in third place are Corbin-Johnson and Vandegriff, who boast endorsements from Sigma Phi Epsilon, Black Student Alliance, Black Theater Ensemble, and, recently, Markel Starks (COL ’14), though they consistently run behind Tisa/Ramadan and Appelbaum/Cleary in polls.
Spencer Walsh (MSB ’14) and Rob Silverstein (SFS ’14) run a no-nonsense, business-oriented campaign, though somewhat lacks in boring slogans and graphic design, where the other candidates excel. At the same time, they placed a strong showing in Vox‘s straw poll and have a strong social media following.
Cannon Warren (SFS ’14) and Andrew Logerfo (COL ’14) excel in creativity and popular outside-the-GUSA-beltway causes such as rat-extermination and lifting the restrictions on kegs. Warren’s philosophy on student government, however, precludes him from dorm-storming and excessive online campaigning, leaving him few ways to reach students who would like his message. They’re already tuned out of student government and likely won’t vote.
Vox is basing his analysis on everything he has to go off of: Various polls, endorsements, insider analysis, and other diverse metrics. While those point to a showdown between Tisa/Ramadan and Appelbaum/Cleary, any candidate could feasibly pull out a win tomorrow. (Subtext: Don’t get mad at me, campaigns.)
Voting will close about 24 hours after voting opens sometime later tonight and, if all goes as planned, Vox will know the winner in the early hours of Friday morning. After that, the new executives will have a short grace period before they take office after spring break.
Wait for that email from the election commission and remember to vote.
Photo: Joshua Raftis/Georgetown Voice