Gary Cohn, Pulitzer Winner, Says California’s Top-Two System Has Altered the Balance of Power Between Labor and Business

Capital and Main, a non-partisan news source about government and politics, recently ran a two-part series by Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Gary Cohn that concludes that the top-two system in California has injured labor and boosted big business. Here is the first installment, called “In plain sight: the rise of corporate Democrats in California.” Here is the second installment, “Backroom Fix: How Eight Democrats Denied Health Plans to Hundreds of Thousands of Californians.

Also, on May 20, the East Bay Express, a free weekly newspaper in Alameda County, makes the same point in this editorial.


Gary Cohn, Pulitzer Winner, Says California’s Top-Two System Has Altered the Balance of Power Between Labor and Business — No Comments

  1. Will the Lenin-Stalin Donkeys take on the Corporate Donkeys ???

    ANY Elephants in CA in about 10 more years ???

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  2. Due to the NON 1D-1R districts in the 2012 general election, the minority rule NOW in CA is about 5-7 percent WORSE than in party hack plurality primary States.

    i.e. about 25 percent in CA
    about 30-32 percent in other States.

    There are too many SUPER math MORONS in CA to count — election *reformers*, Profs, media, etc. etc.

    How soon before Civil WAR II starts quite likely in CA ???

  3. Read it. Only one succinct way to view it, I think: who’s doing the fooling, who’s getting fooled, and what’s making it possible? Voters who once had an idea what a Democrat was are made now to be independent from the only viable party.

    Top-two has showed itself to be easily co-opted by wealth when an electoral arrangement should be more purposefully resistant.

  4. The article started with the premise that Californian wanted an extreme left-wing government. Public sector unions may have wanted that. They liked the old segregated partisan primaries. They could GOTV with their supporters, knowing that many Democrats would skip the primary, or vote randomly. Independent voters had to go through hoops to vote in the primary. They depended on differential vote suppression.

    In the general election, voters would then vote for the Democrat.

    Now all voters get to choose who represents them. That is upsetting to left-wing extremists.

  5. Independents did not have to “go through hoops” to vote in California partisan primaries for Congress and partisan state office, before Prop. 14 passed. Independent voters who walked into the polling place were asked if they wanted either a Dem or a Rep primary ballot. I was a polling place official and I know. This was all in accord with Secretary of State regulations.

  6. The voter’s pamphlet for the June 2010 primary for San Francisco is online.

    A permanent-vote-by-mail voter would be sent a post card which then would have to be returned if the voter wanted to be sent a partisan ballot. Presumably if they did not respond within a deadline, they would be sent an abridged ballot.

    For in-person voters it required the voter affiliated with a non-qualified party or were DTS voter to request a partisan ballot. If they made no request, they would be given the abridged ballot.

    At best, some counties may have had poll officials point at the hoops. In June 2010, 32% of Democrats voted, 44% of Republicans, but only 24% of DTS/NQPP did.

    Of those who did, 20% requested a Democratic ballot, 20% requested a Republican ballot, and 60% made no request and were given the abridged ballot. If we combine the two, less than 10% of DTS/NQPP registered voters voted in the 2010 gubernatorial primary.

    The percentage in this last category varied wildly by county. While 49% of DTS/NQPP voters in San Francisco did; only 36% in Contra Costa did and 32% in Los Angeles. In Lassen only 21% did.

  7. The Secretary of State’s 2010 “Poll Worker Training Standards” said, “County elections officials should train poll workers to inform Declines to States voters that they may request a ballot of a political party that has authorized” that. A sign prominently on the sign-in table at the polling place said, “When you registered to vote, you did not select a qualified political party. You will receive a ballot with nonpartisan contests. You may also request a Democratic Party or a Republican Party ballot.”

  8. Not a Californian. As I was reading the article I’m not sure how much the push to big money was caused by the top 2 and how much is just an outgrowth of SCOTUS decisions. The standard now is now limits for all pratical purposes, so both side will pander to money regarless of election format.

    I do agree that ANY plurality voting system will ultimately be dominated by two parties, and either/or choice when you have only one vote. I believe that Oregon’s Unified Ballat Initiative will be far more representative of the interest of minor parties and give them an opportunity for real competitiveness that they would not otherwise experience. The fear of ‘wasted’ votes for minor party candidates is overcome in the proposed Approval voting design that allows voter to express support to any and all candidates that they believe represents at least a part of the personal ideology. I hope Oregon voters will put this on the ballot and pass the initiative in November.

  9. I know folks in Oregon who believe greater democracy and higher public participation will result in more liberal policy. I think that would be a mistaken assumption. Many disenfranchised voters are anything but liberal. When you chose the route of populist decision making you may be pushing much closer to the center, not liberal or ultra conservative.

    I’m ok with that. A good idea should stand on it’s own merits with the larger public review. While the passionate on both extremes may believe their position is unassailable, the facts may prove that they haven’t made their case well to the general public. If the public isn’t ‘bright enough’ to make decisions, it is the role of the advocate to present the case in a meaningful way. If they can’t, the idea just might not be that good.

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