Here’s the thing about ranked choice voting. It's easy. And it’s not gameable.
I was at an event with one of the candidates the other night. Questions about RCV arose.
“If I really, really like you,” one person asked, “Do I vote a number two and a number three?”
"Yes," the candidate wisely/correctly/honestly answered.
It ALWAYS is to the voter’s advantage to vote a second and third choice. If your candidate does not rate at the top two-out-of-three... after all the others have been eliminated, one a time, from the bottom up... it is always to your advantage to cast your 2nd and 3rd choice. Here is a greater and more interesting truth: You can’t game the RCV system. And thus: You can choose your second true favorite. You don’t have to figure out which second choice would hurt your candidate the least.
You could vote your candidate’s most likely defeater, as your number 2 vote – and it would not increase that person's chances of defeating your person.
RCV takes the “strategizing” out of casting your own – from your true self – vote. That’s the spiritual beauty of it. You get to be totally true to yourself.
Vote your favorite, best, absolute first choice first. And then vote your best second choice, too. And if you need a safety vote, vote that person third. That’s the only strategy, if you want to avoid "wasting your vote," and having your vote not count in the final determination.
If there is one candidate that you REALLY DISLIKE -- get your spite out and vote for the other candidates, and not for that one! It's almost like having an AGAINST vote. You're going to LOVE IT.
If none of your three choices become the final two most popular candidates -- then your vote will not affect the final result. RCV is mathematically sound in that way. You can't game the system to your advantage -- but you can cast a safety vote as your #3.