The new Field Poll shows another price of the California’s top two scheme: voter discouragement.
Field reports that 15 percent of likely voters in their survey intend to sit out this November’s U.S. Senate contest between two Democrats, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. This number includes 31 percent of state republicans and 35 percent of those identify as strongly conservative.
I’m neither conservative nor a Republican, but this is clearly a problem, especially since the state of California and its media continue to label the November election the general election. In general elections, partisans have the understandable expectation that they’ll be able to vote for a member of their party. But that’s been taking away by top two (and the bad labeling – since November is really a run-off election; the general election was the one in June).
It’s also worth remembering that an election with two Democrats going forward to November is not an accident. Creating such run-off elections with two candidates was the express intention of top two’s supporters—Harris-Sanchez is how they wanted this to work.
They said that such elections would create all kinds of new energy and participation and conversation in California elections. The theory was that the two Democrats would have to reach out and appeal to Republicans, energize them, and have conversation that opened the door to bipartisan deal making and ideas.
None of that has happened. Instead, top two has brought more money and more nastiness into the process. California remains among the most politically polarized states in the country. And those Republicans who were supposed to be reached by a Democrat vs. Democrat run –off? The Field Poll shows they prefer to sit this out.
There’s been talk of an effort to repeal top two in 2018. Such an effort can’t come soon enough.