Evaluating the Top Two Primary System: The California Example

11 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2016

Date Written: February 22, 2016


This paper discusses California's experience with the "Top Two" primary system, which has been used since 2012. The paper concludes that the move to the system has had, at best, a minimal impact on increasing the number of moderates getting elected. It has not had an effect on voter turnout nor on the election of independents, and has also not led to a decrease in campaign spending. For those wishing to increase moderation in politics, there are far better ways (such as reforms to eliminate partisan gerrymandering or to increase voter turnout) that would help to achieve these goals.

Keywords: Top Two primary, political moderation, election reform, political partisanship

Suggested Citation

Bernstein, Jeffrey L., Evaluating the Top Two Primary System: The California Example (February 22, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2736662 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2736662

Jeffrey L. Bernstein (Contact Author)

Eastern Michigan University ( email )

601 Pray-Harrold Hall
Ypsilanti, MI 48197
United States

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