Runoffs get touted as a solution for vote splitting between similar candidates and overall better elections. Certainly, just about anything is better than the choose-one plurality voting that the US uses so extensively. But are runoffs really the great solution we make them out to be?
In 1992 the well-respected California judge Abraham Aponte Khan lost to a virtually unknown challenger who had been rated “unqualified” by the Los Angeles County Bar Association. The challenger’s name was Patrick Murphy. He won, it seems, because Murphy sounded less “foreign” than Khan did. The all-American Judge Murphy later resigned over allegations of money laundering and absenteeism.