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Gary Miller
Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA), whose career was saved by California's open primaries in 2012.
If the man in the photo above is someone that you fail to recognize, you are forgiven. For over a decade now, Republican Congressman Gary Miller has been the epitome of the nondescript, archconservative Republican politician, plying his trade in the rolling hills and valleys in a tri-county area roughly 25 miles east of Los Angeles.

For most of his career, Miller's district was so conservative (two of the largest cities within the district were blood red communities in northern Orange County: Mission Viejo and Yorba Linda) that he would be carried to victory with minimal effort. From his initial election in 1998 until his final win under the old lines in 2010, Miller's average vote total (not counting an unopposed run in 2006) was 62 percent of the vote.

Then, in 2011, Miller's world got considerably worse. The newly created California Citizens Redistricting Commission carved up Miller's comfortable district, leaving him with the less-than-agreeable choice of diving into a neighboring district already held by a Republican incumbent, or moving into the one open district that had any of his previous district's constituents: the newly minted 31st district.

The problem? Miller could no longer count on a reliably conservative district. The new 31st district went 56-41 for Barack Obama in 2008, and Democrats immediately put Miller onto a document he had never seen before in his 14 years: the DCCC target list.

Alas, two years later, Miller is still a member of the House of Representatives. A citizen initiative (the redistricting commission) almost cost him his career. But it was another citizen initiative—the concept of holding "open" primaries—that saved him.

Read beyond the fold for how Miller's job was salvaged, how Republicans have almost benefitted from this elsewhere, and why they will almost certainly do so again.

In 2010, the voters passed Proposition 14, a measure to install a "top-two" primary system in California.

Under a "top-two" primary structure, all candidates for a particular political office, regardless of party, appear on the same ballot, which is distributed to all voters. Then, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. Again, this is regardless of party, making it possible for the general election to be a faceoff between two Republicans, or alternately, two Democrats.

One of the chief authors of this measure was an organization called the Independent Voter Project. One of the stated purposes was to strengthen the hand of independent (or, as they refer to them in California, "Decline to State") voters:

The Top Two Open Primary forces candidates to face all voters, including independents, in both the primary and the general elections. In most communities, this means that candidates and elected officials will have to answer to, and appeal to, a broader electorate rather than to the more narrow interests that can dominate low turnout primaries.
With 27 percent of the electorate in California registered outside of the Democratic-Republican duopoly, and the popularity of the two parties at a low ebb even among their own members in many cases, the  measure passed in the spring of 2010 with 54 percent of the vote.

2012 was the first statewide election under the new primary structure, and just a few hours after the polls closed, the first palpable problems with the system became readily apparent. And the aforementioned Gary Miller was at the center of it.

Miller was not given a free ride from his fellow Republicans in his bid for a seventh term in the House. Veteran state legislator Bob Dutton challenged Miller in the reconfigured district, in which Miller retained only a fraction of his old district (the part that lies within San Bernardino County).

Miller's salvation, however, lay on the Democratic side. With the district being a legitimate Democratic target, a quartet of serious contenders decided to run for the seat, led by Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar. Even in the GOP-heavy primary vote (47 percent of the primary vote was cast in the GOP presidential primary, versus just 51 percent in the Democratic presidential primary), the Democrats were very nearly at parity with the GOP in terms of total votes in the district.

And, yet, when the top two "golden tickets" were punched for November, there was not a Democrat to be found in the top two. In an ironic flurry of unintended consequences, two things that would ordinarily be seen as perilous for Miller wound up being his ticket to re-election.

The serious Republican challenger, in the form of former state Sen. Dutton, wound up being a godsend, because they almost evenly split the 52 percent of the electorate that voted GOP. When the official results were tallied, Miller had notched 27 percent of the vote, with Dutton hot on his heels at 25 percent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the renewed interest in the purple-to-blue district among Democrats also saved Miller's bacon, because none of the four contenders was utterly dominant on the Democratic side of the ledger. Aguilar was able to get nearly half of the votes cast among Democrats, but former Hill staffer Justin Kim did fairly well in his own right, while frequent state legislative candidate Renea Wickman and Rita Ramirez-Dean both scored in the mid-single digits. The net result? Aguilar wound up with 22.6 percent of the vote, good enough only for third place.

Thus, despite the fact that a majority of district voters had cast their ballots for Barack Obama in 2008 (and would do so again, even more decisively, in 2012), the general election for the U.S. House would give area voters a choice between ... two Republicans. Interestingly, one school of thought (which I share) is that this also worked in Miller's favor. Occasionally tinged with scandal (and also diminished by the general anti-incumbent mood), it seems likely that Democratic voters sided with him over Dutton in November, rationalizing that it will be easier to beat the damaged Miller in 2014 than the more benign Dutton, who Miller defeated 55-45 in November.

A similar scenario could well play out in 2014 in the very same district, among the bluest districts in America held by a Republican incumbent. Once again, there is already a quartet of legitimate Democratic candidates in place trying to claim the California 31st. Aguilar is back for a second shot at the brass ring, and to his credit, he is the only one that has raised serious cash. However, all three of his opponents have at least the potential to be players by next spring. Most prominent among these is former Rep. Joe Baca, who served in the House for well over a decade until his defeat last November at the hands of Gloria Negrete McLeod in the neighboring 35th district. Add local school board member Danny Tillman, and attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes, and the Democratic field in the 31st is taking on the appearance of a clown car yet again. Thus far, the only saving grace is that Miller appears to be the only other candidate running. If that holds, the Democrats will get a spot in the November runoff in spite of themselves, and Miller will be assuredly become a top-tier target for the DCCC.

The same scenario came dangerously close to occurring again on the state legislative level this past week. In a special election to replace Democrat Norma Torres (who was recently elected to the state Senate) in AD-52, seven Democrats filed for the seat, along with a Republican Dorothy Pineda and "Independent" candidate Paul Leon, the mayor of Ontario, who was last seen only a few months ago as the Republican challenger to Norma Torres in that state Senate special election.

Early in the evening, the folly of the top-two system was looming. Democrats combined for right around 60 percent of the vote, but because their votes were spread fairly evenly, and there were only two Republicans (open or concealed) in the mix, a scant 35 votes separated Democrat Freddie Rodriguez from Republican Dorothy Pineda, with "independent" Paul Leon well out in front. Rodriguez, thankfully, pulled away, coming in second in the open primary with 22 percent of the vote. He will be the strong favorite in the special general election, since Democrats combined for 60.3 percent of the votes in round one. But this could've been disastrous, and in defiance of popular will, yet again.

In fact, the ability for Rodriguez to make the runoff and face Leon was based largely on a raft of early money that had to be spent on his behalf. Rodriguez, a city councilman from among the largest cities in the district (Pomona), had over $350,000 in independent expenditures spent on his behalf in the closing weeks of the election. This wave of cash from party coffers and those of sympathetic groups like the teachers' union, which ordinarily would be reserved for a general election. But those organizations felt compelled to dump some early money into the race, in order to ensure that Rodriguez even made it to the general election.

Interestingly, I predicted that this might happen in a post-mortem that I wrote about the new California primary system over thirteen months ago:

If one of the rationales for this system was to weaken the influence of political parties, it may have failed miserably. Because one has to assume now that parties in 2014 will be working double time to clear the decks for their preferred candidates in the filing process. Whether it is indirect "take one for the team pressure," or a raft of party assistance being dropped in the laps of the favored horses in the field, one has to guess that the sting of losing a winnable district will compel the Democrats (and the GOP, if they were paying close attention) to interfere more in the primary process, not less.
Another inherent flaw in the "top two" structure is that it drains resources that could otherwise be used to further party goals. Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, was this more apparent than in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, where the epic "Shberman" showdown occurred last November between veteran Democratic incumbents Howard Berman and Brad Sherman. The two Washington stalwarts, both of whom have been there for over 15 years, were the runaway top-two votegetters in June in this heavily Democratic slice of Los Angeles County. That necessitated an ugly, and absurdly expensive, repeat in November, one easily won by Sherman with over 60 percent of the vote.

When all was said and done, however, these two Democrats had spent over $11.9 million trying to beat...each other. One suspects that money, donated by Democrats, could've been better used elsewhere.

Even the stated goal of trying to bring Independent voices into the mix seems to have failed. Among the staunchest critics of the new system, as it happened, were those who work with third parties like the Greens and Libertarians. Their complaint? The new system essentially knocks them out of the box in June, when only a fraction of the state's registered voters even bother to show up at the polls.

The open primary system was well-intentioned, but as the old saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. If voters are not willing to scrap the primary structure all together, it needs several fixes to it, at a minimum. A party should never be penalized for encouraging multiple candidates to seek an office, so a logical starting point would be to eliminate the possibility of a single party holding both general election positions. Time will tell if the two major political parties, or merely those interested in solid representative governance, will try to put a measure to that effect on the ballot.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 08:59 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I still don't have any idea why this was people (16+ / 0-)

    liked the "open" primary.  If independents don't like the major parties, then they can just start their own.  Maybe the democrats can have a caucus to winnow their ranks in these kinds of races.
     

    •  Party endorsements would work too. (8+ / 0-)

      Though many consider that a return to "smoke filled rooms."

    •  In most cases, (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WillR, slothlax, Dave925, VClib, TexasTom

      I don't think independents want "their own" party.  Mostly, they just want a voice in the process.  And when parties try to close the process, a lot of voters don't like it, and they may take steps to open it up again.  That's what led to the top-two primary in Washington.

    •  One solution could be to take the top 3 (0+ / 0-)

      vote-getters from the open primary and put them in the general election.  It could allow an non-aligned candidate into the election while also increasing the chances that voters would have at least one Democrat and one Republican to choose from in the general.

      Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort. - Voltaire
      Don't trust anyone over 84414 - BentLiberal

      by BentLiberal on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:42:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's like term limits (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cordyc, Tuba Les

      It sounds good on the surface — until you start thinking about it for more than a minute.

      Also, I don't see how, if the state has a mandated primary system, a caucus by one party can be made to stick. Party caucus losers could still enter he primary, couldn't they?

      Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

      by anastasia p on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 02:16:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Term limits suck (0+ / 0-)

        So many of our good legislaturers have been termed out and the constant parade of newbies are more easily lead around by the lobbyists.  It's the dumbest thing CA has ever done.

        Congressional elections have consequences!

        by Cordyc on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:22:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No it's Not (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chas 981, happymisanthropy

          Prop 13 easily qualifies as the dumbest thing California has ever done. It took all power away from local districts (schools, libraries, ect) and municipalities and gave it to Sacramento. Granted, term limits have made a hash there, too, but now all money has to flow thru the state to get to local governing bodies.

          It also scewed the tax rolls. At the time, and for decades, the property tax had been evenly split between business and residential properties. Now residents pay 61% and business only 39% because they do not sell as often. And ANYTHING you do to fix that is considered anti-business.

          The Democrats create jobs. The Republicans create recessions.

          by Tuba Les on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 01:33:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  The reason why people might like this idea... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hankmeister, Tuba Les

      ...is because if you live in a political subdivision that is dominated by the "other" party, you end up with no say in who gets elected.

      In my case, I'm in a solidly Republican area, which means that whoever wins the Republican primary is going to win the general election.  The only way to have a say is to vote in the Republican primary -- and in off year elections, that is what I tend to do so that I can have some sort of say in the election.  The open primary resolves this problem.

      And frankly, what happened in the congressional district that is the focus of this diary looks to me like screw ups that shouldn't be blamed on the open primary system.  If 52% of the primary voters in a Democratic leaning district voted for the two Republicans, that suggests to me that the Democratic party did a very poor job of getting out it's voters.  That's the fault of the local Democratic party, not the primary system.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 08:20:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A top two primary without instant runoff (15+ / 0-)

    assures us of nothing but the mediocre.  at best.  

    In addition it totally eliminates third parties from being on the election ballot and being part of the discussion going into the elections.  A grave disservice to democracy.

    Dollarocracy is not Democracy

    by leema on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:10:10 AM PDT

    •  all it needs is ranked choice voting... (15+ / 0-)

      Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

      by No Exit on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:24:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Instant run-off fixes most of this problem (7+ / 0-)

      If there is no way to get an instant run-off (ranked voting, transferrable vote, etc.) then there needs to be a minimum vote for the the second winner. If the two top vote-getters do not get at least 25% each, then there needs to be a run-off with the top 4 candidates.

      Third party candidates have a real chance to be one of the two who make it to the general election in open primaries, a chance that they almost never have in partisan general elections.

      Americans can make our country better.

      by freelunch on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:55:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh? (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        GussieFN, leema, MPociask, codairem
        Third party candidates have a real chance to be one of the two who make it to the general election in open primaries, a chance that they almost never have in partisan general elections.
        I'd think the result would be exactly the opposite; an open primary restricts the general-election ballot to two candidates, while a conventional primary system allows any third party with ballot access or enough petition signatures to be on the general-election ballot.

        Had an open primary been implemented nationwide in the 2012 election, few if any Americans would have had the option to vote for any candidates from the Green Party, Libertarian Party, Constitution Party, or other third parties in the general election—just Democratic and Republican candidates.

        I don't think the open primary system benefits third parties in any way, shape, or form.

        Know what would? Removing the 435-member limit on the size of the House of Representatives, and going to a 100,000:1 citizen:representative ratio (about 3,500 members)—which would make legislative districts much smaller and make it much easier for organized citizen groups to mount legitimate challenges to representatives who displease them.

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:19:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I said that badly (0+ / 0-)

          I intended to convey:

          Third party candidates rarely are considered by voters in November because they are generally considered no more than spoilers. They are more likely to be considered in the primary, particularly one where the two winners need to get a quarter of the vote, because they would not be spoilers, but the real candidates with a real opportunity to win.

          I would support a 600-750 member House which has multi-member districts in all states that have more than one House member. 3,500 may be a bit much.

          Americans can make our country better.

          by freelunch on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 02:54:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  James Madison said something to that effect (0+ / 0-)

            While he agreed that there was a legitimate question as to whether a group of six or seven could wield power more equitably than sixty or seventy, he felt a House of 600--700 was too many.

            Nonetheless, the Constitution's upper limit on the size of the House, of one member per 30,000, would result in an impossibly large body today.

            •  30,000? (0+ / 0-)

              If 30,000 was the size of a congressional seat, with the American population at around 315 million, that would give us a 10,500-member House of Representatives, would it not? That is kinda cray to think about. Paging the New Hampshire House of Representatives…

              However, 30,000 might be off by a bit based on how Article the First was being written. It might be 50,000 that the Framers intended as the perfect size for a House district, in which case, say hello to your 6,000+ member House of Representatives.

              I’m actually surprised this hasn’t turned into a cause celebre among the Tea Party types, what with the interesting constitutional history and all. Seriously, I found the Wikipedia article linked to above to be fascinating. And how fun would it be to gerrymander a US House with so many seats. I mean, California alone would get almost 1,000 seats.

              Kansan by birth, Californian by choice and Gay by the Grace of God.

              by arealmc on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 10:02:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  No...I don't think third party candidates stand a (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        codairem, freelunch

        chance in top 2 primaries UNLESS there is: instant runoff/ranked voting where people are more apt to vote for who they really want first (despite the odds) rather than the lesser of evils  with a perceived chance of winning ...who would now become their second choice.   But since we do not have instant run off available except in a few places...that is almost irrelevant.

        Things to consider about any primaries:
        A) Smaller number of voters in primaries
        B) Usually they are the most committed to a cause or party.
        C) Less media attention to issues
        D) The less involved/informed voters don't pay much attention until after the primaries...

        Party primaries assure that even third party candidates will be on the election ballot and they can be a part of the discussion at a time when more voters become interested: going into the election.

        But even if we have Party Primaries...we should still have ranked/instant runoff in both the primaries and any  election where more than two candidates are in the running.

        Dollarocracy is not Democracy

        by leema on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:33:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not quite. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Stude Dude, codairem, TexasTom

      It only eliminates third parties if no third party outdraws either the Republicans or the Democrats.  For example, if the Democrat gets 35 percent, the third-party candidate gets 31 percent, and the Republican 28 percent, the ballot will be the Democrat versus the third-party candidate.  

      Historically, that hasn't been the usual scenario in elections that feature third parties (and never at all in Presidential elections).  But it's much more plausible on the district level, especially in a time when the popularity of the Big Two is declining.  

      If anything, I'd say that despite its obvious flaws, the top-two system is probably fairer to third parties than the current one, which always seems to hamstring them with lots of artificial requirements about money and signatures.  

      •  Perhaps they should increase it to the top 3 (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rlochow

        from the primary advancing to the general.

        That would increase the chances of the general offering a choice of at least one D and one R and allow for a non-aligned candidate to get into the general if they could place third in the primary

        Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort. - Voltaire
        Don't trust anyone over 84414 - BentLiberal

        by BentLiberal on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:45:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I would change it to a Top 3… (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rlochow, codairem

          Top Democrat, Top Republican, and Top Independent/Small Party candidate, if applicable. Primary voters may still vote for an random collection of candidates from across party lines.

          That said, I don't think that the jungle primary is the disaster that many are calling it. It's quirky, and leads to the occasional oddball result, but overall it's not a problem (that said, give me a tenth of the money spent in that Shberman race and I'd've tipped an unforgiving district in Texas in 2012).

          Union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: DemSign.com.

          by DemSign on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 12:19:33 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Right and the other thing is (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rlochow

            this diary only looks at one example of something that happened, when there are lots of districts.

            The system wasn't designed to make things better for any one party, and I'm not sure we can conclude yet that's it's a system that is hurting Democrats in CA.

            Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort. - Voltaire
            Don't trust anyone over 84414 - BentLiberal

            by BentLiberal on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 12:51:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  yes, each system will always have (0+ / 0-)

              some advantages and disadvantages. No system is perfect. For the rank-choice... Oakland got Jean Quan who almost everyone agrees has been ineffective. She won after 8 rounds of counting and never led until the last round. Even district elections gave the like of Dan White, etc.

        •  see my comment above (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rlochow

            That vastly increases the potential for a clown car effect. A good example was the HI-01 special election that gave us Charles Djou (R-HI) for part of a term.  Top Three is even worse than Top Two...

          Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 55, CA-30

          by Zack from the SFV on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:07:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Instant runoff winner (0+ / 0-)

      If the winner gets 50+1% of the entire eligible voter count.

      Further those votes for the so-called super majority stuff, tax increases mainly should only allow votes to count if the legislator won the seat by the same percentage.

    •  on the contrary (0+ / 0-)

      it increases the chances of third party candidates winning election.  They oppose it because they have no intention of winning elections and prefer to act as spoilers.

      I want to see Snowden get a fair trial, an impartial jury, and the same sentence James Clapper gets for lying to Congress.

      by happymisanthropy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 05:35:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Never Have Seen The Benefit In This System (5+ / 0-)

    There is no guarantee that the two top candidates will represent the dominant views of the electorate. That can be seen in the example that you cited. Never have been a fan of California's non-partisan local elections where party affiliations are not stated. Party identification is still a major way for voters to identify the views of a candidate. Take it out of the mix and you lower voter turnout because the election seems less intensely competitive on the face of it without party ID. Also produces stealth candidates where peopl might end up voting for someone who ultimately does not reflect their views.

    •  I think you're mistaken. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, codairem

      First, the idea of party ID as a reflection of the candidate's views has lost legitimacy as the parties have grown to resemble each other increasingly.  

      Second, I don't know why you say that elections seem less competitive on their face without party ID.  Speaking purely personally, I haven't found it to be particularly true.  

      Finally, both major parties, no less than splintery third parties, have become highly adept at running "stealth candidates" (who turn out immediately after election not to believe the things they ran on).  Indeed, the modern art of campaigning amounts largely to persuading the broadest possible swath of the electorate that the candidate shares their views.  By its nature, that is least a somewhat deceptive enterprise.  And the broader the success, the more dishonest it is.  I don't see what you think party ID has to do with it.  

      •  If you are a high info voter (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG, rlochow, Leo Flinnwood

        If you are a high info voter, who goes to every forum and researches every candidate for every position party ID might be completely irrelevent, but that's not how most people work.

        And party ID has become more relevent because despite your dissatisfaction with the degree of demarcation between parties, there are clear issues where the divide is a short hand.  There is a much more clear party line and a much more cohesive party block at practically all levels of government than there was decades ago.  The label means more.  You're less likely to vote for a D and get Gene Taylor.  You're less likely to vote for an R and get Lincoln Chaffee.  

        When it comes to city council, the soil and water commission, school board, sheriffs, judges (though elected judges is a whole other debate) a party affiliation might seem unneccessary because of course everyone sees each other at the same general store, they all talked to the candidate at the county fair, read the local county paper and everyone knows Molly is more liberal than Jim, but than there is the majority of voters who are going in blind, if they are lucky clutching their party sample ballot to do a vote more sophisticated than "I'm Irish, Jim's name is Irish, vote for Jim."  When the party doesn't matter it is much harder to put "I love my wife, look at my lovely children, isn't our state grand, puppies and kittens" candidates in context, and the stealth is a lot less likely to be caught out.

        We might like to think we have an informed electorate, that all voters know the position between everyone with a line on the ballot, but that is universally not true even in the highest profile (pres and senate) races, and soil and water board- forget it.

      •  BUNK! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skibum59, SuetheRedWA

        The parties have actually grown to resemble each other LESS, as the GOP has become unacceptably extreme to more and more people. Like it or not, party ID is a key way people identify candidates who line up with their beliefs.

        I have never seen a Democrat "stealth candidate" run to try as a Republican to dupe Republicans into voting for them, and with the gap between parties diverged into a chasm, that would be virtually impossible now. Most "stealth candidates" ry to be blank slates to to try to conceal extremist views — which are those of the GOP, not the ridiculously moderate often too timid Democratic Party.

        Ed FitzGerald for governor Of Ohio. Women's lives depend on it. http://www.edfitzgeraldforohio.com/

        by anastasia p on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 02:21:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Here's one advantage: (5+ / 0-)

      The top-two system rules out scenarios where an extreme candidate wins the general election with 38% of the vote. (Maine Gov. Paul LePage, for example.)  An extremist may still win, but he/she will at least need to appeal to 50%+ of the voters.

  •  The "open" primary is an invitation to (14+ / 0-)

    abuse. As a Californian, I was appalled that the measure passed. The story in the diary is a more complex and interesting unintended consequence than simply voting for the worst candidate of the other side so your side can win in the general. Parties should at least have the right to choose their own candidates. Sheesh!

    •  As a former Oregon "Republican" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nulwee, MPociask

      That is exactly what I did: register Republican, vote Democratic. So, your solution, since it's based on considerable cynicism, is open to use (or abuse if you choose) today anywhere. Simply register for the other party and vote in the general your true affiliation.

      I cannot remember voting for a Republican outside of the primary. The only reason I became a Democrat, was Barack Obama: the only candidate the Democrats have put up since Kennedy that I felt even remotely comfortable supporting.

      I remember watching the Democratic presidential challengers debating: Paul Tsongas, Jerry Brown and several others including Bill Clinton. I was praying for anyone but Clinton. Look what I got. I voted for Bill twice.

      There is a lot more to the story than "open primaries" and I think Steve S. needs to sharpen his pencil just a bit and dig in to see why a district that Barack Obama carried by 62% found 52% voting Republican in the general congressional district.

      I like open primaries. Period. Ranked voting would be even better.

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

      by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:41:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Operation Hilarity (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TerryDarc, codairem, pixxer

        Didn't Kos himself advocate just that in last year's Republican primary? IIRC the intended "beneficiary" was Rick Santorum.

        “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.” Lyndon Baines Johnson

        by spacecadet1 on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:24:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  no, you're getting it wrong (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pixxer

        this district ended up voting 100% for Republicans in the general election because the open primary system ended up sending two Republicans to the general election.

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:11:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why should parties have any power? (5+ / 0-)

      You have made an argument against primaries, whether open or closed.

      The GOP has chosen to drive me away from them because they have allowed bigots and fools to run the party for the benefit of the 0.1%. I strongly identify myself as a Democrat, now, but that doesn't mean that I want the party to control who the candidates will be.

      In Wisconsin, one of the problems with eight years of Doyle is that the far right didn't seem all that far right at the end of it. Doyle was progressive in a few areas, but in most areas he was not much different from Tommy Thompson.

      Americans can make our country better.

      by freelunch on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:00:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To ask is to answer (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        codairem, freelunch, pixxer, Chas 981

        George Washington was right.  Factions are bad for democracy.  Reducing governance to a team sport is bad for democracy.  Parties should be eliminated, and party-based positions in state/federal legislatures eliminated (Ranking Republican Member of X___, etc.).  

        But good luck convincing the party-based political power system to do that.

        •  You do realize... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marcus Graly

          Washington generally sided with the Federalists (even if he wasn't formally a member). Washington also had a view of the presidency that it really wasn't supposed to try to influence congress at all, and only veto bills that are blatantly unconstitutional, rather than take any active role in governance.

          Factions are an inevitable part of any democracy, and that's a good thing, people have legitimate disagreements with each other and a stake in getting legislation passed that advances their own policy goals (and that others want to stop).

          To put this another way, can you name me any democracy that doesn't have formal political parties?

          Politics and more Formerly DGM on SSP. NM-01, 27 (chairman of the Atheist Caucus)

          by NMLib on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 04:14:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Political Parties (0+ / 0-)

            "To put this another way, can you name me any democracy that doesn't have formal political parties?"

            Exactly. Well put, NMLib.

            The only ones that don’t have formal political parties? I can’t think of any. The ones with the weakest parties are generally the least democratic. When you don’t have political parties, power falls to other institutions, like churches/mosques, tribes/tribal groupings, city-states, militias, and a ton of other organizations that we probably don’t want running the government.

            The problem in America isn’t that we have 2 political parties, it’s that we only have 2 political parties, effectively.

            Yeah, sure, we have 3rd parties, but our system is effectively a 2-party system and always will be. It would be much more representative if there were 4 or 5 major parties. Sigh. If only.

            Kansan by birth, Californian by choice and Gay by the Grace of God.

            by arealmc on Tue Aug 06, 2013 at 10:17:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You, as The Party, have a right to assist (0+ / 0-)

        in that choice, w/o the loyal opposition casting their vote in your primary.

    •  The old system also invited abuse. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, codairem, pixxer

      The measure is an attempt to break the two party monopoly. As I pointed out in my remark below, to point to one undesirable result as reason to oppose the open primary makes no sense. We had more good results than bad last election. In fact, the GOP lost FOUR House seats in 2012.

      So I can see why the Republicans might dislike the new system of open primaries and redrawn districts, but not why a Democrat would.

      •  the people who try to market this system claim (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zack from the SFV, skohayes, pixxer, NMLib

        that it is an attempt to break the two party duopoly, but they have little interest in that. They just like how it generally ends up in moderates getting elected.

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:12:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think an open primary system of a certain style (4+ / 0-)

    would be okay. I think someone told me Montana does it like this. I'm thinking each ballot would be the same, and would have both party's primaries on the ballot. But you could only vote in one. You could pick and choose which primary you want to vote in by each race.

    ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

    by James Allen on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:17:21 AM PDT

    •  Wisconsin also has that. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chas 981

      It doesn't fix the radicalization problem. If the GOP has a GOP-leaning district the Teahadists will put up a crazy. If the district is strongly-enough GOP leaning the Teahadist wins even if most people don't like him because there will be enough moderate Republicans who won't vote for the Democrat.

      In the California primary, there are several from each party running in the primary. Maybe the Democrats get shut out, but a moderate Republican gets a shot at the Teahadist.

      As long as Boehner refuses to approach this rationally, there is no current advantage to having a moderate Republican in the House instead of a crazy, but in normal times moderate Republicans can be allies of Democrats on important issues that need to be addressed.

      Americans can make our country better.

      by freelunch on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:05:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  States without party registration (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Allen, codairem

      almost all do that I believe. In North Carolina we have semi-open primaries. If you're a registered D or R you vote in the respective primary, but if you're unaffiliated you can choose which one, so a lot of swing voters in areas that aren't historically dixiecrat like suburban Raleigh have stayed unaffiliated.

      •  I hate that (0+ / 0-)

        because it makes being a member of a party a disadvantage. But I also hate the CA/WA style system of open primaries.

        ...better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. -FDR, 1936

        by James Allen on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:07:24 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The difference between that system and this one... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Allen

      ...is that each party has one primary winner who still gets to be on the general-election ballot.

      In the system you describe, the general-election ballot still gives voters a choice between a Democratic candidate, a Republican candidate, and various  third-party or independent candidates.

      The system you describe is much more likely to result in a representative who represents the will of the people of that district.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:22:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They tried that here in WA (0+ / 0-)

      when the "jungle primary" was initially tossed a decade or so ago. There was a huge outcry where voters wailed, "but I'll be forced to identify with a party in my mind!" Having to blacken a circle R or D, with no way to ever publicly identify a voter's choice was traumatizing for them; so, we have top two now.

  •  Classic "be careful what you ask for" (13+ / 0-)

    Yes, there were problems with the top-two primary in a couple of districts. But the redistricting commission, ALSO thought of by people who wanted fewer Democrats to be elected in the state, did a non-partisan job that gave us a super-majority in BOTH houses of the Legislature.

    I'm not so worried about Gary Miller keeping his seat in 2014. If we don't get the House back by winning the other 16 seats, maybe.

    Seneca Falls, Selma, Stonewall

    by Dave in Northridge on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:18:35 AM PDT

  •  it will sort itself out (15+ / 0-)

    over time.

    Maybe miller stays around again, at some point the Dems will get their act together, the state party will crack heads
    and run one "Blessed" candidate,

    No voting system is ideal.

    you can prove mathematically that 5 different voting systems will give 5 different results all less then optimal.

    •  This! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Capt Crunch, patbahn

      If seven "Democrats" run against each other under this system, they deserve to lose.

      Ignorant arrogance.

    •  Only in America (0+ / 0-)
      5 different voting systems will give 5 different results all less then optimal

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

      by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:44:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i once saw a PBS special on voting (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TerryDarc, codairem

        where they had an election for voting methods,
        and it was a nice way to show how any
        preference method would skew the results

        frankly I think preference voting schemes are best.
        A is my first choice, C is my second choice,  F is my third
        and wipe out the ones who fail and stack upwards
        but even that wipeout can produce different results
        depending upon how you do a wipeout.

        •  There is surely nothing sacred (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          patbahn, codairem

          about the winner take all, primary, redistricting, two party crap we've got that produces a house of reps that should be a seriously reduced minority are found instead to be 235:200 (or whatever) Republican.

          What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

          by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:19:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  i like having districts (0+ / 0-)

            but,  having a choice vote, where i can vote for 1st second
            third choice,  and they do some sort of rack and stack.

            •  Don't mind the districts (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              codairem

              but the gaming to put all the dems in one super heavily democratic district while diluting the remaining into safely repug districts leads to the undemocratic bs we've got that only votes to repeal Obamacare every week, seeking only to get re-elected and push their stupidity first agenda on America.

              We don't have a democracy: we have a travesty of democracy.

              What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

              by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:36:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  the california redistricting to compactness (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TerryDarc

                worked out really well.

                nice rational districts, cleared out some deadwood,
                made everyone have a decent race.

                and the open primary, i think will create some interesting effects.

                I think the extremists will have a tough time
                with the jungle primary.

    •  Arrow's theorem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      patbahn

      No voting system involving more than two candidates can be perfectly "fair."

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

      by Samer on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:33:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Please explain (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TerryDarc, Mindful Nature

    How a district that consisten tly casts more than 50% of its votes for Republicans can be described as "purple-to-blue".  I think you're looking down the wrong end of the tube.

    "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" ~Dr. Samuel Johnson

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:20:11 AM PDT

  •  First of all, you shouldn't call them primaries - (0+ / 0-)

    when a party is not guaranteed a nomination for a general election how can it be called an open primary?  

    Second, if a guy/gal gets a majority in the open primary - you should scrap the general election.  You put in the effort early, should get the reward.  This would solve the OPs 2nd concern.  

  •  Two thoughts - from a resident of Orange County (8+ / 0-)

    First - the Democrats need to be better disciplined. Period.
    It amazes me how self destructive the Democrats can be.
    There should be heavy repercussions for Democrats that pack the field of an open primary with vanity campaigns.

    Second - I don't think Prop 14 - the Open Primary proposition was "well intentioned".
    It was heavily supported by Ade Maldanado and Schwarzenegger.

    A big beneficiary is Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado, who insisted the proposition be placed on the ballot in return for supporting the February 2009 budget.
    http://ivn.us/...
    That said - thanks for the thoughtful and informative diary.
    •  It was extortion! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skibum59, phillies, Cordyc

      In 2009, Maldonado was the last Republican vote needed in the California Senate to pass the state budget, due to the super-majority required at that time. However, one of the conditions of Maldonado voting for the budget was for the legislature to put the "open primary" proposition on the ballot. The Democrats agreed, but Maldonado was criticized by politicians on both sides of the aisle.

      •  And Maldonado is an ALEC whore (0+ / 0-)

        He's also heavily supported by the NRA and Darryl Issa who even "loaned" him his PR hack for his unsuccessful Congressional run.

        But never fear, he'll be back.  He's running around the most conservative parts of CA yammering about Freedumb and guns and water.  He's going to take on Jerry.

        Congressional elections have consequences!

        by Cordyc on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:34:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Still, I can see some benefit in this (10+ / 0-)

    Living in a dark-red state, and living in a bunch of... well... not quite dark-red Congressional and legislative districts (though, I do live in a closely-divided county), you immediately see the problem with the alternative system.  8 percent of the voting-age population voted in the Republican Senate primary last year, and when that's tantamount to election, you wind up with a Senator who appeals to roughly the 8 percent of the population that votes in the Republican primary.

    I'm imagining an alternative under the open primary, where you might wind up with two Republicans facing off in the general election in November, but at least in that situation Democrats can make a difference.  The standard party primary system, in a safe state or district, is what allows politicians like Ted Cruz to thrive.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:21:30 AM PDT

    •  And this... (5+ / 0-)
      you might wind up with two Republicans facing off in the general election in November
      You might also wind up with ONE of those Republicans being semi-reasonable and the other treasonable. I'm looking at you Ted Cruz.

      What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. King Henry, scene ii

      by TerryDarc on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:48:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TerryDarc

        I see the benefit of the open primary in "safe" districts.  In a hypothetical Dewhurst/Cruz general election, the Republicans are probably split with Democrats and independents essentially deciding the election.

        In swingy or even in districts that slightly lean to one party or the other, the open primary might make things worse, but then in those districts the closed primary/general election system works reasonably well.

        29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

        by TDDVandy on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:04:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That is my county also (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask, Chas 981

      In the primary coming up for State Senator, I have a choice of three Republican candidates.  One was appointed to fill the seat of the long-time Republican Senator.  The appointee is part of a Christian Identity church.  That bunch is trying to take over the county government and they got one of their guys in as county commissioners.  The second is a retired AF OSI agent, but he doesn't come across well.  The third is a current county commissioner from the neighboring county.  His webpage reads like normal wing-nut stuff.  This is the guy I voted for, because he is known to be a honest.  If a Democrat ran, we would be much more likely to get the Christian Identity guy.  I'm in favor of top-two.

  •  Not a citizen initiative (11+ / 0-)
    A citizen initiative (the redistricting commission) almost cost him his career. But it was another citizen initiative—the concept of holding "open" primaries—that saved him.
    Just to be clear, the top two system was put on the ballot by the state legislature as Abel Maldonado's price for supporting a budget deal a few years back. It was voted on by voters, but it was a legislatively-introduced proposition, not a citizen-introduced initiative.
    •  Yes - a Republican initiative (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cordyc

      Abe Maldando and Schwarzenegger - both Republicans -  were the driving force behind this.

      The general population voted for it because they bought it as a means of breaking the deadlock in the state legislature.

      However the REAL break in the deadlock of the state legislature came with the super majority of Democrats.

      The general public was conned.

      •  No, not an initiative (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        codairem

          An initiative is a law that is put before voters by collecting lots of petition signatures. It was not put there by the legislature. If a law is passed by the legislature that people don't want, then they can get signatures to put a referendum on the ballot for voters to "veto" it.

             These terms have specific meanings in electoral politics; misusing them just causes confusion. Top Two was put on the ballot by a vote of the legislature (in the aforementioned Maldo budget deal). It was most definitely not an initiative!  

        Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 55, CA-30

        by Zack from the SFV on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:24:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  In WA state, it was an initiative. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zack from the SFV

      The Top-Two primary was enacted by I-872, after the legislature and governor went in different directions.  I-872 was approved in 2004 by 59.8% of the voters.

      That said, I'm not sure the distinction between an Initiative and a Referendum is terribly important.  In both cases, it comes down to which argument is more persuasive to a majority of voters.  And in all ballot measures, these days, money and influence play a disturbingly large role.  The days of the true citizen-volunteer petition drive and grassroots campaigning seem to be long gone.

  •  So, here is an odd thing in your argument: (6+ / 0-)

    You seem to start with the position that the California primaries should be disigned to further the Democratic party instead of the wishes of the electorate.

    A "top two" system will often create some head-scratchers, but the idea itself is party neutral.  A district could as easily have two Democratic candidates as two Republican, or, God forbid!, an independent or Green or who knows what.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 09:40:49 AM PDT

    •  The Miller scenario doesn't benefit the electorate (0+ / 0-)

      Are you arguing the costs in races like that, where someone wins with essentially 27% of the vote and potentially disadvantages a majority of the voting citizens, are offset by the benefits in other races?

      It'd be interesting to see how often the top two are the same party in a heavily partisan district, and how often a third party or independent candidate makes top two. The diary mentions that the third parties don't like it since they have a tougher time mobilizing their voters for the primary than the general election, making them even less influential.

    •  It's not party neutral at all (0+ / 0-)

      Since in a heavily democratic district without a clear democratic frontrunner, when two republicans run against a dozen democrats, the top two candidates will almost always be the two republicans.  

      The system is absurd.  There is no reason for the primary at all, since virtually the same results could be acheived by holding a single free-for-all election.  

      "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

      by Subterranean on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:41:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Of course it's party neutral. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        codairem

        And any party that insists on shooting itself in the foot probably gets what it deserves.

        In your scenario, btw, is an admission that no Democratic candidate in that crowd much excites people in the district.

        As to those two Republican candidates, they already start out behind because it's a heavily Democratic district.

        A little discipline will go a long way.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:04:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not at all (0+ / 0-)

          It could be that several democratic candidates excite people.  

          What if the 2008 election had been between HRC, Obama, and Romney?  Romney would have won in a landslide with a plurality.

          That law is custom made for a disciplined minority party, which is the GOP in CA.  A diverse and vibrant political party doesn't march in goose step.  That's not because they shoot themselves in the foot, it's because they think independently.

          "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

          by Subterranean on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 11:47:25 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes - Further the Democratic Party (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      codairem

      That's a good thing.

      That's what I want - to put my foot on the Republicans neck and keep it there.

      Why do Democrats always want to screw themselves with this bullshit sense of playing fair?

      Have you seen what the Republican Party is up to lately?

      Do you really think it's a good idea to "play fair" with con artists?

      •  And on the Green Party and on independents and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Minnesota Mike

        on anybody else as well.

        I have no love for either major party, and anything that cracks their hold on elected office is a good thing by me.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:05:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If you don't like the Democrats why are you here? (0+ / 0-)

          This is a website specifically devoted to "more and better Democrats".

          You sound like you're in the wrong place.

          •  If you'll read the FAQ, you'll find that all (0+ / 0-)

            are welcome.

            There are a lot of discussions on this site -- including interesting ones about global warming and quality of health care, problem some people won't even acknowledge.

            LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

            by dinotrac on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 04:05:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So - try promoting the Green Party here. (0+ / 0-)
              This is a Democratic blog, a partisan blog.
              Go ahead - give it a shot.
              Write a diary and promote voting and working for the Green Party.
              See just how long that one flies.
              I'm not interested in a level playing field for all parties in the primaries - I want the filed tilted in favor of the Democrats.
              •  I don't promote any parties here. I figure I'm a (0+ / 0-)

                guest and the least I can do is to follow the rules.

                As to tilting the field in the primaries, I imagine all parties would like the field tilted in their direction, but...

                With all this talk about the Voting Rights Act, you have to wonder why it matters if elections are rigged to serve the parties instead of the people.

                LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                by dinotrac on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 07:59:26 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Actually you do promote parties (0+ / 0-)

                  You promote a system that doesn't favor the Democratic Party.
                  By default that system promotes other parties.
                  You can't have it both ways. You choose sides whether you want to or not. Nobody is neutral and nobody stands on the sidelines. There are no sidelines.
                   

                  you have to wonder why it matters if elections are rigged to serve the parties instead of the people
                  What a load.
                  That's Pollyanna talk. It's that kind of pie-in-the-sky reasoning that allows the weasels in the Republican Party screw everybody else over.
                  •  There's ridiculous logic and there's ridiculous (0+ / 0-)

                    logic, and you've got a handle on both.

                    Pollyanna would be much happier in a political party than staying independent.  That would let her believe that ACA  was a wonderful bill or that all of our problems would be resolved by cutting taxes a little bit more.

                    Out in independent land, you have to be more realistic and recognize that politics is a game played for somebody else's benefit.

                    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

                    by dinotrac on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 02:53:12 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

    •  Very little chance of third parties. (0+ / 0-)

      CO-Gov and ME-Gov situations do not come along very often.

      It is much more likely that the jungle primary locks in the Dem/Rep duopoly for the general.

      -7.75 -4.67

      "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

      There are no Christians in foxholes.

      by Odysseus on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 05:56:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, but better with the open primary. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happymisanthropy

        I wonder if at least a few Democrats would be tempted to vote third party if the choice is between Tea Party Republican and Green?

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 08:00:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, worse with open primary. (0+ / 0-)

          You would have to have a 3rd party candidate pulling 20+ percent.  That almost never happens.

          Even Rich Whitney, who I voted for, running against the criminal Blagojevich and the acceptable Republican Baar-Topinka only got 11%.  That was a perfect storm for the Greens.

          Ross Perot, who I voted for, did it.

          But in any multiparty contested race, third parties will not pull nearly enough votes to gain a top 2 spot.  They will indeed be "frozen out in June" and unable to expose any useful message in November.

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 08:07:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Ted Cruz vs Dewhurst in a general in Texas (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eztempo

    I agree with TDDDVandy. A general election in Texas with Cruz vs Dewhurst would have been interesting. Would Dewhurst or Cruz try to appeal to Democrats to win the election?  More likely Dewhurst would make that appeal and might have won.

  •  We got the Open Primary System in Washington (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rlochow, roadbear

    because the voters reacted negatively to over-reach by the parties, the GOP and the Dems acting in concert. We do not have registration by party in WA and our primaries for decades allowed voters to pick whichever party ballot they wished. The parties decided they wanted to kill cross-over voting and sued to force voters to pledge to vote for the party in the general if they chose the party's ballot in the primary.  The parties lost in court.  Then they tried to dictate the party choice of candidates, only candidates certified by the parties would get the party designation on the primary ballot, and lost again in court. At that point an initiative was passed for the Open Primary because of voter disgust with parties' attempts to manipulate the established primary system. It was a huge mistake by the voters, but an understandable reaction to a perceived power grab by the parties.  In retrospect the parties ended up in a much worse position than they had before bringing the lawsuits. In addition to all the problems enumerated by the Diarist, the open primary effectively eliminated all third parties from contention in our general elections.

    •  Why do you say the open primary system (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ratcityreprobate

      effectively eliminated third parties?  How did that work?  

      It seems to me intuitively that if anything, open primaries would favor third parties.  

      •  Only the top two advance to the General Election (3+ / 0-)

        whereas before, at least in Seattle, we would see a Socialist Worker candidate, Green Party candidate and an occasional Libertarian in the general. I think small "d" democracy has been diminished when only R's and D's make it to the General. Actually in Seattle, we may never see another R on the ballot in the General for the state legislature or Congress. The General will just be the run-off between two Democrats and in Eastern Washington a run-off between two Republicans.

        •  if you aren't in the top two (0+ / 0-)

          how can you win the election?  If Seattle elections are between a Democrat and a Greenie, and Asotin County elections are between a Republican and a Libertarian, how exactly is that bad for third parties?

          You seem to be entertaining the notion that candidates with no chance of winning have some business being on the ballot.  They don't.

          I want to see Snowden get a fair trial, an impartial jury, and the same sentence James Clapper gets for lying to Congress.

          by happymisanthropy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 05:58:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Top Two destroys third parties (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Zack from the SFV

        which is why it is being pushed by Republicans in Arizona.
        Top two means there are no third parties on the General election ballot, meaning that voters never hear of reasons to support them.

        Restore the Fourth! Save America!

        by phillies on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 06:51:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd find that claim more persuasive (2+ / 0-)

          if I thought there were a significant third party to be "destroyed".  But when third-party candidates get only single-digit percentages under the traditional system, I'd say the voters aren't finding reasons to support them, regardless of the voting system.

          For whatever it's worth, in the 2012 WA state legislative elections (98 house seats & 26 senate races), there were 9 third-party or "No party preference" candidates who made it into the Top Two, and thus onto the November ballot.  They included one Green, one Socialist, one "(R) Hope & Change Party", and 6 who called themselves Independent or said "No Party Preference."

          In addition, there was one "Independent-GOP" (who lost), and one "Independent-Dem" (who won).

          In 25 cases, a single major-party candidate ran unopposed, so a third-party candidate could have made it to the November ballot just by filing.  And in 14 races the Top Two candidates were in the same party.

  •  Don't they have party endorsements? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, GussieFN, MPociask

    Seems like that would put the strongest candidate over the top.

    •  Seems like an easy solution, if the (0+ / 0-)

      party got involved, would be to demand a pledge from all Dems that they'd drop out and endorse the front-running Dem a week before the vote, given a party-run poll that showed them trailing the front-runner by X points.

      So you run like hell against each other until the final week. The state party polls the race. If you're back by 10 percent in a three-Dem race, 5 percent in a five-Dem race, whatever, you've agree to endorse one of the two front-runners. Or something.

      My specifics sucks, but I agree that this seems like a party problem, mostly.

      "Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror."

      by GussieFN on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:39:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Laughing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chas 981

      The Eastern Washington Democrats like purity also and tend to endorse someone that doesn't have a snowballs' chance to win.  They did a bit better in the last general election, but my goodness some to people they have promoted didn't have a chance.

  •  I go back and forth (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary J

    with the legitimacy of this system. Part of me thinks that there should be some sort of minimum vote total before you can advance to the next round and some sort of minimum before being disqualified. In other words, until someone cracks, say, 35 percent of the vote, they don't get a spot on the ballot. And if someone gets less than 5 percent, they don't get a chance to compete again. I don't know about the practical limitations of this idea--it could get expensive to keep having primary elections, among other things--but we wouldn't see a system where someone could advance to the final round with 25 percent of the vote.

    "I can talk anyone into anything except women into sex." -- Larry David, and what I think of when I try to convince people to expand the map.

    by bjssp on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:04:20 AM PDT

    •  Second Ballot system (0+ / 0-)

      It sounds like you are thinking of something like the French electoral system. The exact details differ by office and have been changed from time to time.

      The Wikipedia article on the Two-round system gives some details.

      In both rounds of an election conducted using runoff voting, the voter simply marks an "X" beside his/her favorite candidate. If no candidate has an absolute majority of votes (i.e. more than half) in the first round, then the two candidates with the most votes proceed to a second round, from which all others are excluded. In the second round, because there are only two candidates, one candidate will achieve an absolute majority. In the second round each voter is entirely free to change the candidate he votes for, even if his preferred candidate has not yet been eliminated but he has merely changed his mind.
      Some variants of the two round system use a different rule for choosing candidates for the second round, and allow more than two candidates to proceed to the second round. Under these systems it is sufficient for a candidate to receive a plurality of votes (i.e. more votes than anyone else) to be elected in the second round. In elections for the French National Assembly any candidate with fewer than 12.5% of the total vote is eliminated in the first round, and all remaining candidates are permitted to stand in the second round, in which a plurality is sufficient to be elected. Under some variants of runoff voting there is no formal rule for eliminating candidates, but, rather, candidates who receive few votes in the first round are expected to withdraw voluntarily. Historically, the President of Weimar Germany was popularly elected in 1925 and 1932 by a two-round system that in the second round allowed any candidate to run and did not require an absolute majority. In both elections the Communist candidate Ernst Thälmann did not withdraw and ran in the second round; in 1925 this probably ensured the election of Paul von Hindenburg (with only 48.3% of the vote), rather than Wilhelm Marx, the candidate of the centre parties.
      The system is usually used in countries with multiple parties which might potentially win an election, but there seems no reason why it could not be used for multiple candidates from a single party.

      There is no man alive who is sufficiently good to rule the life of the man next door to him. Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris, M.P.

      by Gary J on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 02:07:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •   "Occasionally tinged with scandal" is putting it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite

    mildly.  The guy should have been kicked out of office for tax evasion and abuse of insider information.
       As for that idiotic initiative, don't blame me, I voted against it.

    My Karma just ran over your Dogma

    by FoundingFatherDAR on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:09:02 AM PDT

  •  Your reasoning is flawed. (7+ / 0-)

    To cherry pick an undesirable result among the majority as a reason to decry the election process is wrong.

    In California's last election the Republican Party was further beaten to the curb. In our Golden State it's "GOP Who?"

    The "folly" of open primaries is bound to produce results you and I do not like, just as it is bound to do the opposite -- JUST LIKE THE OLD SYSTEM.

    The old system gave us, reliably, one Democrat and one Republican. Sometimes that worked well, sometimes it gave us Frick & Frack, or Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum.

    The new system allows the result of the old system, as well as other combinations. We might even see a progressive emerge to replace the DINO.

    California is doing just fine with its experiments to rip the democratic process out of the hands of the politicos. It won't always be pretty, but we're getting there.

    •  That's actually where it's a strength for Progress (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MPociask

      for Progressives.  It opens up the ability to replace a centrist/conservative Democrat with a true Porgressive in heavily blue districts where a D is guaranteed to win

      Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort. - Voltaire
      Don't trust anyone over 84414 - BentLiberal

      by BentLiberal on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 12:01:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this analysis and example (0+ / 0-)

    How fixable is the plan?

    Would this work? Open primary but top pick of any party that collectively commands at least 30% of all votes cast.

    That would open up the field to any pol that can rouse independent voters and peel off enough disaffected R or D votes in favor of 3rd party challengers.

    Might that be a path back to electing moderates?

    It might work if each 3rd party candidate had to choose in advance which party they will caucus with. Without that advance commitment, a small number of independent or 3rd party seats could wield disproportionate power if 2, 3, or 5 seats end up deciding which party is the majority party.

    "They did not succeed in taking away our voice" - Angelique Kidjo - Opening the Lightning In a Bottle concert at Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 2003

    by LilithGardener on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 10:33:21 AM PDT

  •  Some other aspects to think about (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    codairem

    As I see it, much of the bad result of what has gone on here is a failure of the Democratic Party to think strategically.  Seems to me the party ought to have enough leverage to get the single-digit candidates who end up being spoilers to drop out of some of these races.  Also, a demonstrable result of the top-two plus the redistricting is that we have more Democrats, but worse Democrats than before - at least in the state legislature - which in a way was a goal of the process, but an unhappy result from my standpoint.  When most of the districts were gerrymandered to be safe for one party or the other, most of our Dems were pretty progressive.  But the Republicans, for all their failings, have been more strategic than the Dems about funneling money to "business" Democrats in districts where a Republican can't win.  So we have more Democrats, but many of them will vote with the Dems on social issues, side with the big business interests on money related issues.  In a district like mine, which is safe Republican, but not by an overwhelming majority, the Dems ought to be able do coalesce around a more moderate, sane Republican who could be peeled off to vote with the Dems on some issues.  But that will never happen because the party doesn't seem to think that way - or maybe because there aren't any sane Republicans, but there are plenty of squishy Dems available happy to take Republican support.

    "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verite et de la dire" Jean Jaures

    by Chico David RN on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 11:15:44 AM PDT

    •  In CA there are no longer sane republicans (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SuetheRedWA

      The far right took over the republican Party in CA in the mid 90s and those sane republicans like Tom Campbell got out of politics, or left the party completely. If the far right had not taken over their party Tom Campbell would have beaten Barbara Boxer in the 1998 Senate  race, but like many sane republicans now , Campbell never made it to the general election because a radical republican named Dan Lungren beat him in the primary.

      There is no new generation of sane republicans nationwide because in the mid 90 all the candidates trained to run for office locally, statewide who have  now moved up to run for national office were recruited and trained to run for office by the Christian Coalition led by Ralph Reed. The CC also recruited and trained the activist base that has now joined forces with selfish libertarians to form the Tea Parry base of the not so GOP.

      And the Democrats are not anti business.

      •  While I agree there are no sane Republicans... (0+ / 0-)

        ... You ave some of the facts wrong. Tom Campbell ran for Senate in 1992 and got beat in the primary by Bruce Herschensohn, who went on to lose to Barbara Boxer.

        Dan Lungren ran for Governor in 1998, losing to Gray Davis. And yes, Lungren is a conservative jerk, who thankfully got turfed out of Congress last cycle.  

        As for the assertion that Campbell would have beaten Boxer, that's hard to say. He did do a better job of selling the "moderate Republican" bullshit that they bother with in CA anymore.

        •  Should have been "don't bother with in CA" (0+ / 0-)

          in the last sentence.

        •  sorry my mistakea about Campbell (0+ / 0-)

          En though I am a storing supporter of Boxer, I was involved in CA  pro-choice politics at the time.

          Many moderate republicans (no independents) vote for Feinstein, however they do not vote for Boxer. Boxer was lucky that Campbell got beat in the primary because even some moderate pro-business Democrats my have voted for him, as he was strongly pro-choice.

      •  1998 primaries (0+ / 0-)

           Lungren ran for Gov, not Senate in 1998. He got the GOP nomination and lost to the aptly named "Gray" Davis. The GOP candidate for Senator against Babs that year was Matt Fong, the one-term CA Treasurer. Fong was a relative moderate for a Repub. His mother, March Fong Eu, was a Democratic legislator who went on to be Secretary of State for about 20 years (before term limits).

              If any Repub was going to beat Boxer it was Fong but obviously he did not succeed. Our dark haired Senator from Marin County was replaced by a blonde from Palm Springs; Boxer moved and dyed her hair...

              Campbell ran against DiFi in 2000, got the nomination but lost the general election in a landslide.  He also ran in '92 but lost the GOP nomination to Bruce Herschenson, a right-winger. That time the spoiler candidate was Sonny Bono, another moderate, who split that part of the GOP electorate. Bono was Mayor of Palm Springs and had name recognition from his previous career as a singer, songwriter and actor. There used to be some moderate GOPers in the 20th century. You might be mixing '92 up with '98.

        Diehard Swingnut, disgruntled Democrat, age 55, CA-30

        by Zack from the SFV on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:49:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  While it may benefit Republicans in the short (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike

    run, in the long run it looks like the parties simply need to adjust to the new system. It was pushed by moderate Republicans who had trouble winning Republican primaries and wanted to get rid of them. I don't see any structural reasons why this system should benefit a specific party.

  •  Top two is a great development for progressives (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minnesota Mike, codairem, SuetheRedWA

    and for getting rid of corrupt/entrenched/unresponsive incumbents of either party in safe districts.

    Flukes occur in the standard system too, so its pointless to complain about it happening with top two also.

    I'll take one Gary Miller over one Paul LaPage any day.

    Mr. Gorbachev, establish an Electoral College!

    by tommypaine on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 12:22:15 PM PDT

    •  Well, The First Trial Run (0+ / 0-)

      in a number of state-wide and U.S. rep races, I saw the progressive make a big run and ask for money (i.e. Norman Solomon and Tori Osborne) but when the dust settled, they didn't make the top two.  We could say well progressives didn't turn out but a low cost grassroots campaign vs. big campaign money makes it exceptionally difficult in a primary that always will have lower turnout.  Only in a truly progressive assembly district such as mine where we had Abel Guillen against Bonta and Guillen did come close-- but that was the exception as most of the state is not like Oakland and Berkeley.  We could say that we need better turnout at primaries and that may solve the problem but for now, I'm deeply skeptical.  Yes, Pete Stark should have retired last year and his incumbency did get challenged and he lost, but seeing Mike Honda being challenged next year from the center/right makes me deeply skeptical, and makes me glad I voted against "top two."  I thought it was a bad ideal then and so far, I haven't seen that much that makes me optimistic except a progressive I know and admired come close to the general election while two others got drowned out due to big money and never had the chance one would hope with "top two."  Unless, you're in an Oakland and Berkeley, do not expect a chance for a more progressive candidate or a younger progressive candidate taking out the entrenched incumbency.

  •  I never thought the open primary was well- (3+ / 0-)

    intentioned.

    Frankly, I don't want Republicans or registered Libertarians or Green Party members to have a voice in my party's decision of who will represent it in the General Election.

    Never have. Never will.

  •  Combine it with Instant Runoff (0+ / 0-)

    That system will eliminate the split field problem.  Since the current system serves Republican interests, changing it (even in California) seems unlikely though.

    "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

    by libdevil on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:52:38 PM PDT

    •  Ooops (0+ / 0-)

      That's what I get for opening the story and not refreshing to check comments before I post.  Sorry.

      "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

      by libdevil on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 02:01:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Instead of blaming open primaries, why not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minnesota Mike

    push for instant runoffs (aka ranked voting)
    in all elections?  Then the 2 candidates from the primaries that most people find acceptable (not necessarily their first choice, but ideologically similar) will progress to the general.

    Oh wait -- if we do this, why would we need primaries at all?  We wouldn't.  A few billion dollars would be saved each cycle and there would never be a spoiler candidate.  

    •  Exactly. (0+ / 0-)

      No billions of dollars?  The major parties won't support it.

      No spoiler effect? The zeroth parties won't support it, even if it actually increases the chances of independents winning office.

      I want to see Snowden get a fair trial, an impartial jury, and the same sentence James Clapper gets for lying to Congress.

      by happymisanthropy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 06:06:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Big fan of Top Two (4+ / 0-)

    I don't think top two leads to more fluke outcomes than do 3rd party candidates.  Washington State has had top 2 for 3(?) cycles now and California one and there has been 1 "Fluke" outcome on a federal level. Living in a state with a strong 3rd party tradition I am used to seeing races decided with the winner getting less than 50% and the most important thing in a close election is if the Independence Party candidate draws more votes from the Democrat or Republican.  Give me Top 2 anyday.

    A SSP guy in a DKE world.

    by Minnesota Mike on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 01:55:41 PM PDT

  •  I agree (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phillies, LordMike

    I voted against the open primary, or run-off, measure for exactly this reason.  I don't see the benefit, at all.  It discourages candidates from running and actually puts more pressure on the party structure to control who runs for office.  The more disciplined party will be favored, and "rogue" candidates will be shunned and brought down, regardless of whether or not they're viable candidates.

    I'm proud of our new more democratic redistricting process, but not so much of the run-off system.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 02:32:56 PM PDT

  •  Yeah, I like Washington State's method (0+ / 0-)

    Only the top voter getters from each party go to the general election.

    "Once, many, many years ago I thought I was wrong. Of course it turned out I had been right all along. But I was wrong to have thought I was wrong." -John Foster Dulles. My Political Compass Score: -4.00, -3.69, Proud member of DKE

    by ArkDem14 on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 02:34:35 PM PDT

  •  I'm a progessvie Democrat, but the nation would (0+ / 0-)

    benefit if we got more moderate republicans in national office. It would be better to vote for a moderate republican who could win a national office, than a very progressive Democrat who had no chance of wining in a conservative district or state.

  •  Minor terminology issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LordMike, bartcopfan

    "open primary" has usually meant that a voter could vote for any candidate of any party.

    The winner of each party's primary then advances to the General election.

    "top two" means that only two candidates reach the general election.

    Restore the Fourth! Save America!

    by phillies on Sun Jul 28, 2013 at 06:54:58 PM PDT

  •  I live in a city that is 75% Democratic... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minnesota Mike
    A party should never be penalized for encouraging multiple candidates to seek an office, so a logical starting point would be to eliminate the possibility of a single party holding both general election positions.
    Almost certainly the 'top two regardless of party' is the only reason I now see competitive general elections. I think this is a feature and not a bug. Miller's Democratic would-be challengers simply need to sort this out for themselves in 2014.
  •  Could the reverse of what you describe (0+ / 0-)

    Happen in more Republican areas?

    Or are there any that are Republican enough for it to happen?

    Women create the entire labor force. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 01:45:10 AM PDT

  •  You want to pick my party's nominee? (0+ / 0-)

    You join my party.

    "Push the button, Max!" Jack Lemmon as Professor Fate, The Great Race

    by bartcopfan on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 06:53:55 AM PDT

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)
    A party should never be penalized for encouraging multiple candidates to seek an office, so a logical starting point would be to eliminate the possibility of a single party holding both general election positions.
    How can that be done without the state acknowledging the existence of political parties?

    I want to see Snowden get a fair trial, an impartial jury, and the same sentence James Clapper gets for lying to Congress.

    by happymisanthropy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 05:31:25 PM PDT

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