The American Interest Carries Analysis of How California’s Top-Two Isn’t Working as its Backers Hoped

The American Interest is a bimonthly print publication, founded in 2005. Among its founders are Francis Fukuyama and Zbigniew Brzezinski. The current issue carries this analysis by Luke Phillips, about the California top-two system. He writes that it has not worked as its backers hoped. Instead of boosting centrists and moderates, it has exaggerated the dominance of the Democratic Party and transformed California into a one-party state.

The article is not perfectly accurate. Phillips seems to believe top-two wasn’t used in California until 2014, but it was in effect starting in 2011. Also Phillips doesn’t seem to realize that before top-two started, independent voters were permitted to vote in all Democratic and Republican primaries for congress and partisan state office.


The American Interest Carries Analysis of How California’s Top-Two Isn’t Working as its Backers Hoped — 14 Comments

  1. That is not true.

    Independent voters could vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary but not both.

  2. About 20 percent of Donkey or Elephant voters have NOT voted (aka NON-votes) in general elections if there have been 2 Elephant or 2 Donkey HACKS respectively for various statewide / district offices

    — overall about 10 percent more non-votes — circa 15 percent total (falloff for lower district offices).

    The incumbent HACK extremist oligarchs love it — esp. in the rigged gerrymander districts.
    NO primaries.
    PR and AppV

  3. 38% of those who voted said that they preferred Sanchez over Harris. Why should they have been denied the opportunity to express their support?

  4. Abolish the super-rigged minority rule gerrymander USA Senate —

    chief victims for decades = CA voters.

  5. Jim, under the old system, write-in space was included on the November ballot for congress, so under the old system any voter was free to write-in Sanchez.

    But under the current top-two system, no one was permitted to vote for anyone but one of two Democrats.

  6. Washington permits write-ins in the general election. Louisiana doesn’t have write-in space for any elections. The present or absence of a write-in space is not intrinsic to having an Open Primary.

    The California Constitution says that the Top 2 should advance to the general election, which implies that those not in the top 2 should not advance, but would not preclude other candidates from running as write-in. This would be consistent with Washington, which does bar write-ins for sore losers.

    The lack of write-in space in California was a result of awkward language in SB 6. It is a statutory matter. California could permit write-ins in Top 2 elections, bar sore losers, and require a 40% threshold for election.

  7. @Brandon Lyon.

    Louisiana has an Open Primary. That is how it is described in statute and popular parlance.

  8. A few states define “major party” in statute, and sometimes parties like the Libertarian and Green Parties qualify under that statutory definition. But that doesn’t mean they are “major parties” in the true political science sense.

  9. @Jim Riley
    “popular parlance” – You are the only person on this site that says this despite numerous people correcting you. Do you believe a tomato is a vegetable just because of Nix v. Hedden?

  10. How about —

    Election 1
    Election 2
    Election 3

    — depending how the gerrymander hacks have rigged the election systems

    — to intentionally confuse the public

    — comes natural to the EVIL gerrymander hacks.

    Again — for newer folks —

    Election = making choices — yes/no, 1,2,3, etc.

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