June 6, 2024

MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Grimes, Sightline Institute, shannon@sightline.org 

FULL ARTICLE: Spoiler alert! Majority winners are no guarantee 

PORTLAND, OR – Between 2010 and 2022, 31 primary and general elections for federal and statewide offices in Oregon ended without a majority winner, according to new analysis by the nonpartisan, regional public policy think tank, Sightline Institute.  

In almost one in six Oregon races, more voters selected non-winning candidates than cast ballots for the ultimate winner.  

  • Third-party candidates influenced three of the past five general elections for Oregon’s governor. And in a fourth case, the winner only barely logged a majority.  
  • Since 2010, third-party candidates have spoiled three Oregon governor’s races and one campaign each for US representative, state treasurer, and secretary of state since 2010. 

Ranked choice voting is one method jurisdictions can use to ensure that winners earn a majority of votes. Oregon cities Portland and Corvallis have already adopted ranked choice voting for local elections, and a referendum on Oregon’s November ballot gives voters the option to adopt ranked choice voting for the state’s federal and statewide elections. Ranked choice voting avoids distortions from Libertarian, Independent, or Constitution Party candidates that are common in Oregon’s past elections.  

Future elections will undoubtedly produce many more spoiled outcomes under the current voting method,” said Shannon Grimes, author of the article and Researcher with the Sightline Institute’s Democracy program. “With ranked choice voting, voters face no strategic penalty for choosing their top candidate.”   

Read the full analysis: Spoiler alert! Majority winners are no guarantee 


Shannon Grimes is a Researcher with Sightline Institute’s Democracy program, where she focuses on securing electoral reforms in Washington and Oregon. Find her latest research here. 

Sightline Institute is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank providing leading original analysis of democracy, forests, energy, and housing policy in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, British Columbia, and beyond. 

June 6, 2024