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Runoff expert says Bieter faces long odds in second faceoff with McLean

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Runoff elections in the City of Boise are rare, but not unheard of.

But what does national history tell us about the dynamics heading into the head-to-head faceoff?

Challenger Lauren McLean topped incumbent Mayor Dave Bieter in the first round of voting by 15.4%. Since none of the seven candidates in the race reached a majority of votes, Boise City Code calls for a runoff between the top two candidates.

Runoff statistics

Charles S. Bullock III is the Distinguished University Professor of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. Bullock literally wrote the book on two-round voting. That book, Runoff Elections in the United States, looks at the dynamics of these types of races.

He told BoiseDev the odds of the first-round winner also winning the runoff are high.

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“Based on analyses of almost half a century of runoff elections chiefly for Congress, state legislatures and statewide offices, but with some analyses of county contests, the primary leader wins the runoff about 70% of the time,” Bullock said.

[McLean, Bieter prepare for Boise runoff: what they’re saying and how it will work]

Bieter vs. McLean

November 5th election results

He looked at the dynamics of the Boise race between Bieter and McLean and provided further context.

“An incumbent, like your mayor, who finishes 2nd rarely manages to win the runoff,” Bullock said.  “The larger the margin between the front runner and the 2nd place candidate, the more likely that the front runner will win the runoff.”

Bullock didn’t mince words on Bieter’s odds.

“Your contest with a 15.4 point difference is large,” he said. “So, your mayor might want to start collecting boxes so that he will be prepared to vacate his office. The fact that he drew 6 challengers indicates weakness.  The vote in the first round confirms the presence of that weakness.”

The Boise mayoral runoff election is December 3rd. The League of Women Voters and City Club of Boise will hold a forum between the two Tuesday, November 12th at 11:45am at The Grove Hotel.

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