Playing With Politics

A Blog on Law, Politics, Planning, Development, and Other Vices

Is the Party Over?

Posted by Roobs on June 9, 2010

If politics was a bar (lets be honest, we are all drinking) then Prop 14 would be the equivalent of the bartender yelling “last call!”

Prop 14 establishes an open primary in California. Essentially, it will be like having two general elections. The first general election is a “qualifying round” where only the top 2 candidates with the most votes in each race will face off in the November general election, regardless of party affiliation. So potentially two Democrats or two Republicans could battle it out in a November election for the their respective seats.

Check out this MSNBC video on the passage of Prop 14.

Interestingly enough, both the Democratic and Republican Parties both staunchly opposed this proposition and for good reason. Sure, it weakens the major parties and they have self-preservation to think about (especially the Republicans), but also because its really just a bad idea.

You all of a sudden have two general elections to run. Running campaigns in California is expensive and when you have to talk to everyone in the state, the numbers add up really fast. Primary elections are usually cheaper because they only target their party affiliates. But now they will have to do the entire state twice.

Now, some people think this may be a good thing because it will force candidates to moderate themselves to appeal to all of California, thus, becoming more democratic. But people are really only thinking of the big ticket races and don’t see how this is actually wholly undemocratic because it actually encourages deal making and a smaller candidate field.

Votes are a finite resource. There are only so-many votes in California to fight over and when you have everyone and their mother fighting for votes in an open primary, you essentially shrink everyone’s piece of the pie. You then end up with situations where there top 2 vote getters in a race only represent a small percentage of the entirety of the region or district. Now that youre thinking about that, think about this…

Picture a place like Orange County. We all know the OC is filled with Republican voters. Many more Republicans than Democrats. But in a place like this under this system, an election involving the OC in its district could easily end up going Democrat. Sure, as Democrats we would love to see this, but think about how un-democratic this is. If there were five candidates in a race, 2 Dems and 3 GOPs and votes were distributed roughly evenly among their party affiliates, you would end up with a situation where the top 2 vote getters in orange county are actually the 2 Democrats. Then in the November general election, the people of Orange County, a very heavily GOP county, would have no choice but to vote for either one of the 2 Democrats or not vote at all.

Do you see where i’m going with this? Better order another drink because the bar is closing.

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