Monday, January 31, 2011

California's "Top Two" Primaries

I missed the story in June of how California passed Proposition 14 by a 54-46 margin, creating a new primary system for all elections in California other than for president. The law will be in effect for the first time for a special election in April. In short, what Prop. 14 does is create an open primary in which candidates from all parties (or candidates with no party affiliations) participate. The top two vote getters advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. I was pretty convinced by a pitch I heard from the measure's sponsor, former California Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado. This system eliminates the single party primaries, where candidates are driven to cater to the ideological extremes of their own party in order to make it to the general election. Centrists from both parties have a better chance under this system and candidates have an incentive to appeal to a wider portion of the electorate. Small parties complain that this system shuts them out of the general elections, but this concern is outweighed in my view, by the serious problems hyper-partisanship is causing to our political system. It will be interesting to follow how this initiative affects California politics.

No comments:

Post a Comment