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David Davenport: National Lessons from California Election Reform


This is David Davenport of the Hoover Institution for Townhall.com.

California lives on the edge of change. A few years ago, the Golden State adopted two big changes to its elections:  Open primaries in which voters choose candidates from any party, and a top-two primary where the top two finishers qualify for the general election, regardless of party. The idea was to elect more moderate candidates.

The results are coming in and it isn’t working. The 2018 primaries shows that Republicans still want to vote for Republicans and Democrats for Democrats. People don’t cross party lines looking for an idealized moderate candidate.

Plus: The unintended consequence is often no real choice in a general election. In 2016, two liberal Democrats ran for the Senate and in many state legislative races, there are either two Democrats or two Republicans.  

Worse, candidates have gamed the system to face a weaker opponent later. 

Beware election reforms from California.

I’m David Davenport.