The Salem Democratic Town Committee (DTC) learned a lot from a straw poll of 24 active and possible Dem candidates for President in 2020, using the voting system known as Ranked Choice Voting. It was fascinating to see how it turned out, so early in the race, with many new faces emerging.

To win the poll, candidates needed to obtain support on over 50% of the ballots cast. When no one candidate got a majority in the first round of voting, there was another round, then another, and another, as candidates were eliminated who came in last, and votes for eliminated candidates were transferred to the voter’s next choices.
There were 13 ballots cast that ranked candidates as 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th choice, etc. (some ballots ranked all 24!).  Bernie Sanders won the first round with three 1st-choice votes, but 10 voters put someone else 1st. Joe Biden,  Gov. Jay Inslee, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg all got 2 votes in the first round, and the other 4 ballots were scattered (1 each to Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and to Gov. John Hickenlooper).  
No one had a majority of votes in the first round.  So those candidates with only 1 or no votes in the first round were eliminated, and votes were transferred from these candidates to the next choice on their ballots for round 2. The eliminated votes from round 1 were then reallocated to Buttigieg (2 votes), and Inslee (1 vote).  One ballot failed to have a ranked choice for any of the remaining candidates, so that vote could not be transferred.   Buttigieg won the 2nd round with 4 votes, while Inslee and Sanders tied for 2nd with 3 votes. But Buttigieg did not have a majority, so the election was not over.
In the 3rd round of voting, Biden was eliminated because he had come in last in the 2nd round. His 2 votes were transferred to the next remaining choice on their ballots, 1 going to Inslee (total now 4 votes) , and 1 to Buttigieg (total now 5 votes). Bernie Sanders was last in the 3rd round with 3 votes, and there was still no majority, so he was eliminated.  The next choice ranked on all 3 ballots for Sanders went to Buttigieg in the 4th round of voting.
This gave Mayor Buttigieg a surprise 8 to 4 victory over Gov. Inslee in the final round of the first DTC Presidential Straw Poll in Salem, CT on April 3, 2018!  Who would have thunk it???
If you want to participate in choosing our next US president, you need to participate in your local party meetings, speak up, and vote!  A lot will happen over the next 18 months, these numbers will change drastically.  Our democracy will be stronger if there is greater participation and empowerment of voters.
Using Ranked Choice Voting in the process helps increase participation, assures that our chosen candidates are supported by a majority of the voters, and provides an incentive for candidates respect each other in the heat of battle, reducing the divisiveness of campaigns. And if the Salem DTC straw poll is any measure, it makes elections much more fun!

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