Another idea for reforming the candidate selection system is ranked-choice voting, in which primary voters rank their candidate choices from most to least favorite. If no candidate wins a majority of the votes in the first round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated; his or her voters’ second choices are distributed among the remaining candidates. This process continues until one candidate gets a majority.
This means that no candidate can be the winner just by getting more votes than any of the other guys. It also means that to win a majority, a candidate will have to appeal to a broader range of eligible voters instead of single-mindedly pursuing a narrow, polarizing block of the voting public. In fact, there is some evidence that in Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial primary this year, ranked-choice voting produced a candidate, Glenn Youngkin, who—while decidedly conservative—showed himself to have enough broad appeal to succeed in a purple, blue-trending state.
No single system is guaranteed to produce candidates who are both popular and fit for office. No selection system can, by itself, fix the current state of our political parties. But an advantage of ranked-choice voting is that it provides a potential corrective to problematic populist campaigning by installing a selection system that can be said to be as democratic as, or even more democratic than, the system currently in place.