The thing about STV that makes the election really interesting is what it does most is encourage like-minded candidates to "group up." Obviously, the bloc candidates did this, but nowhere was this more common than than among the five wormhole candidates. There's every reason to think that the vast majority of wormhole voters will have all five wormhole candidates in their top five slots and certainly the candidates themselves encouraged this. So even if, say, Nathan Jameson aligned better with a few non-wormhole candidates in terms of his core beliefs, from a political stand-point it made much more sense for him to cross-endorse the people who theoretically are his biggest competitors for votes.
Because if you end up the strongest of those competitors, you not only get to have your votes, you get to have theirs too.
When writing about this to various supporters, I made amusing references to the movie Highlander. For the three of you who haven't seen it, the basic premise is that immortals walk among us, but are competing amongst themselves to be the final remaining living immortal. When one immortal slays another, he (because of writer stupidity, all of the immortals in the original were men) receives a "quickening" which in the movie is shorthand for part of the power, experience, and skill of the slain immortal.
Running for CSM8 is a bit like being an immortal, except to a certain extent you get to choose who receives your quickening when you die.
For that reason, virtually all of the CSM candidates endorsed for political reasons rather than reasons of alignment of beliefs. mynnna and Trebor Daehdoow, and mynnna and myself get along fine. In particular, you can hear mynnna and I chatting very amiably and agreeing on virtually every topic on the Declarations of War podcast that we appeared on together. Assuming the three of us are on CSM8 -- and I think it's very reasonable to assume we will be, more on that in a second -- I expect we'll work extremely well together and agree on far more things than we disagree on. But during crazy election season, mynnna didn't endorse Trebor or myself, and we didn't endorse him even though we endorsed each other. That's how the politics portion of this thing works.
I'm also going to go against the grain a tiny bit and predict that CSM8 voting turnout will be equal to last year, or at most a few percent over. It might even be a few percent under. During the SCL a couple of weeks ago, CCP Dolan mentioned in his own words that voters were more motivated last year (true) and that both CSM7 and the player-CCP relationship has been much more serene this year than last (also true). These two factors equal less motivated voters among the more "casual" voters. In addition, as The Mittani has already pointed out, we've got fewer candidates this year than last year. Only 31 candidates made the final ballot. Fewer candidates means there are fewer people out there stumping for votes and directly encouraging people to vote.
As a result, net, I think we're going to see at most around 65000 votes this year, and maybe as few as 60000. That's extremely good news for the null-sec bloc vote (they were very motivated this year), good news for the higher tier non-bloc candidates like myself, Trebor, and Mangala Solaris, but bad news for the lower tier independent candidates who to get elected needed a strong independent voter turn-out to dilute and weaken the bloc vote. I don't think that happened this time. I hope I'm wrong. Let's say 62500 people voted. And we'll further say that 90% of those votes were for winning candidates. That means that there will be 56000 votes for winning candidates and the "quota" to be elected to CSM8 will be about 4000 votes.
Will STV be used again next year? I think it's been a good experiment, and I think it has more strengths than it does weaknesses. But its weaknesses are many and I'm sure whomever is on CSM8 is going to have to sit down with CCP, look at the election results in detail and decide how the system should be tweaked for CSM9. It'll be one of the things I'll take a personal interest in.
So, with all that said, let's look at who I think is going to win this thing. Starting with...
The top two
These are the candidates that I expect to win the two "permanent" seats on the CSM, meaning that they will be invited to the May Summit, the December Summit, and to Fanfest 2014.
And I think he'll easily take one of the two permanent seats. mynnna is #1 on virtually every CFC ballot and #4 on virtually every HBC ballot, so his election is assured. Of course, you could have put a basketball in that position and the election of that basketball would also have been assured. So it's fortunate that mynnna is very smart, knowledgeable, and presents the appearance of someone who will actually work in his position. He has gaps -- big ones -- in his knowledge of some EVE topics, but that's everyone including myself and mynnna's gaps are not in any way fatal to his ability to be a good CSM member. mynnna will be Chair of CSM8 if he chooses to be and if he decides to rally the other null-sec bloc CSM members to that cause. Whether he will do so is open to some question.2. Sort Dragon
He is an interesting choice to be at the top of the HBC ballot, but because he's at the top, he's going to get one of the top three or four slots. I'm going to give HBC the benefit of the doubt and for purposes of this prediction, I'm going to put him in the #2 slot. Theoretically, that should also give him the other of the two permanent seats and I also think that's likely, but it's nowhere near the lock it is for mynnna. Sort is the first of many bloc candidates that didn't campaign very much this year, and the first of many who didn't have to. Doesn't matter, though: not only does he have the HBC behind him, he's got terrific knowledge of high-end PvP and bloc large-fleet PvP mechanics. He'll make a great delegate.
The upper tier
If the top seven vote-getters were going to Iceland, these are who I think will round out that top seven. A few thousand #1 votes count for more than ten thousand #2 votes. You can see this operating in this low-turnout simulation written by Alikchi. Go down to the rounds with around 18-21 candidates left and you can see this mechanic operating. Therefore, you won't see any CFC or HBC candidates in this group. These are people that with a few thousand more surprise #1 votes than expected could challenge Sort Dragon or mynnna for one of the two permanent seats.
3. Mangala Solaris
If any independent has a chance of pushing Sort out of that second permanent slot, it's probably Mangala Solaris of RvB. He'll not only have a strong majority of RvB voters behind him -- more than 6000 characters call RvB home -- but he'll be a terrific draw among new players, small-gang PvPers, high-sec players, and a number of other groups. He's one of two candidates that drew endorsements from both bloc and non-bloc candidates which can only help him in that final run toward the #2 slot. He's got a great background in the game and will be a fine CSM member.4. Trebor Daehdoow
My feelings about Trebor are well-known at this point. He received several thousand #1 votes when #1 votes were all that got counted. His presence as the primary transitioning member of CSM7 can only help him, as can the positive press CSM7 received from CCP as voting began. He's an easy lock for the upper tier, and a likely continued frequent guest of CCP in Iceland in 2013. The only reason you might not see him in Iceland in December is if he gallantly cedes his seat to another delegate. If mynnna doesn't take the CSM8 Chair seat for himself, then I expect a cross-section of CSM8 delegates will vote Trebor into the position. And honestly, having a more "neutral" chair would be better for CSM8, IMO.5. Malcanis
Malcanis seems an easy lock for CSM8, but where will he fall? I'm going to gamble a bit and say his wide knowledge, experience, name recognition, and excellent and frequent posting right across the entire spectum of EVE Online forums is going to put him in the upper tier. He's another candidate that was endorsed by both bloc and non-bloc candidates, but also should have a strong following of his own. I think that's going to translate to a lot of #1 votes. Certainly, the rest of CSM8 is going to be lucky to have him in the group. He will definitely be one of CSM8's work-horses and will certainly earn CCP recognition in the form of multiple seats on Icelandair.6. Ripard Teg
Hubris? Probably. But I'm going to gamble even more and say that I think I received a few thousand more #1 votes than anyone guesses. ;-) I hope so, anyway! If it's not me in this group, it will be progodlegend and it will because he did an outstanding job rallying N3 #1 votes.7. James Arget
The last member of this "upper" group will certainly be a wormhole candidate. But which one? Given that the criteria for this group is "lots of #1 votes", I suspect it's going to be James Arget. But that's a hunch based entirely on his wormhole knowledge. I don't think anyone can guess how the wormhole voters are going to tip their #1 votes and the owner of this slot is going to be the person with the most.
These are the candidates that will mostly receive CSM seats based on strong "trickle down" votes. Though they won't have as many #1 votes themselves as the group just above, they'll have enough #2-#5 votes from strong candidates to receive CSM seats. But there will be a couple of people with smaller groups of #1 votes in here, too. But they'll all be on the team with the same access.
8. Kesper North
9. Sala Cameron
10. Kaleb Rysode
For the purposes of this prediction, these four (the #2 and #3 on the CFC and HBC ballots) are easy predictions for CSM seats. How they will do once they're on the CSM is a complete unknown. Each of them has good strengths in their areas of expertise: Kesper has strong experience in building null-sec organizations, Kaleb seems to be a great small-group communicator, Banlish has good industry-related experience and knows outposts like nobody else, and Sala Cameron is this year's titan delegate. How will this translate to being well-rounded CSM delegates? God knows. None of the four have campaigned very broadly. With mynnna and Sort, these four candidates should exhaust the 24000 or so bloc votes that I suspect there will be this year, keeping lower-end null-sec bloc votes from influencing events too much.12. Nathan Jameson
This is a bit of a wildcard pick. With STV, what's going to happen on the low-end is going to be very difficult to predict. But I suspect there are going to be some 6500 "wormhole votes". 4000 of them will be needed to put James Arget on the CSM. That leaves about 2500 free, which means that a candidate that can add 1500 more votes on the side will take a second seat for the w-space bloc. In that kind of scenario, I think Nathan Jameson sneaks in. He's done the best job of the remaining wormhole candidates of presenting his platform to a broader base than just wormhole voters.13. Greene Lee
The Russians shouldn't have too much difficulty electing a CSM delegate. The question is which one is going to rally the field. Even though I endorsed Korvin, I suspect it's going to be Greene Lee. Yes, I'm sure he received hundreds if not thousands of votes from -A- last year, but several factors work in his favor. He's another returning member of CSM7, he's had a year to build up a lot of contacts in Russian player organizations, and there only a couple of Russian competitors which is going to concentrate that voting base. I think he'll squeak in.14. progodlegend or Ali Aras (too close to call)
This one is just going to be too close to call and completely beholden to STV mechanics on the low end. In fact I think when we get down to the final couple of rounds, it's going to be Ali and progod fighting to see who gets eliminated due to the lowest number of votes rather than any particular strength of #1 votes that each brings. If progod gets the seat, it will be because he did a good job rallying his N3 base; progod wins on low overall voter turn-out. If there's a higher than I expect voter turn-out, then Ali gets the seat probably based on new player voters or a broad base of high-sec players suddenly deciding to vote. I've listed progod first because I consider the first scenario more likely.
Whew! That went on much longer than I expected. Next up: key candidates I think are out of luck, and why.