California primary: First step toward recasting American politics?
Daniel B. Wood, Christian Science Monitor - California’s pioneering attempt to produce more moderate candidates by tinkering with its primary system appears to have had some success Tuesday.
Tuesday’s primary marked the state’s first open, nonpartisan primary for statewide and congressional offices. All voters of could vote for any candidate, regardless of the political party of the voter or candidate, and the top-two vote-getters advanced to the general election, again regardless of party.
The hope is that this system would recast the primary process, which typically forces candidates to move to the left or right in order to win voters.
Historically low turnout of 15 percent – the lowest ever in the state for a presidential primary – makes it hard to draw definitive conclusions from the Tuesday vote. But one survey of the results suggests the system shows promise.
“The new, top two ballot used in California’s primary election appears to give moderate candidates in state races a 6-7 percent boost compared to the traditional, more restricted ballot,” concludes the report by the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at the University of California, Berkeley.
“It looks like voters want to vote for more moderate candidates and will do so if the ballot provides the opportunity,” said Gabriel Lenz, a UC Berkeley political scientist who led the survey for IGS.
Other analysts are more enthusiastic.
“This election is a turning point,” says David McCuan, a political scientist at Sonoma State University. “This is a portent of things to come nationally.”