On May 28, a Golden State Poll commissioned for the Hoover Institution was released for California’s June gubernatorial primary. The results: incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown 36%, Republican Tim Donnelly 12%, Republican Neel Kashkari 5%, other and undecided 47%. The election is June 3.
Most notably, the poll showed that independent voters prefer Tim Donnelly to Neel Kashkari by a margin of 3:1, whereas Republican only prefer Donnelly to Kashkari by a margin of 2:1. This finding contradicts everything that supporters of the top-two system have been asserting ever since 2009, when the legislature passed the bills putting Proposition 14 on the June 2010 ballot. Elite supporters of Proposition 14 asserted over and over again that closed and semi-closed primaries produce “extremist” candidates, whereas a top-two primary would boost moderates.
This post does not assert either Tim Donnelly or Neel Kashkari is a “moderate” or an “extremist”, but the news media, when discussing the California gubernatorial race, do frequently say that Donnelly is an “extremist” whereas Kashkari is a “moderate.”
Also noteworthy is the fact, utterly ignored by California’s major media, that California’s closed and semi-closed primaries in the last 50 years have produced moderate Republican gubernatorial nominees. Starting with 1962, these moderate nominees have been Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan (who signed a bill making California one of the first states with mostly legal abortion, and who raised taxes), Houston Flournoy, Evelle Younger, George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Meg Whitman. The only Republican gubernatorial nominee who might fairly be described as “extreme” was Bill Simon in 2002. The blanket primary in 1998 also produced a candidate sometimes labeled “extreme”, Dan Lungren.
If anyone can find a link to the May 28 Golden State Poll, please include it in a comment. The source of the information in this blog post is several newspaper articles.