My California readers now have a chance to see the result of Prop 14 manifest on their sample ballots. I do not enjoy being proven right
in this case, but have to make sure that anyone who WANTS to understand this has a chance to have it explained, so here goes:
Look at the candidates for U.S. Senate on your sample ballot for the June primary. 24 candidates. The same 24 are all on your ballot regardless of your party registration:
2 Peace & Freedom
1 American Independent
This is sort of a condensed version of the Gubernatorial recall election that we had back in 2003. Remember that? Of course, not.
Back in 2003, as the remarkably unpopular Gray Davis was being recalled, we had well over 100 candidates running to replace him. Who won? The movie star. The guy with overwhelming name recognition.
So what will be the result this June, as only the top two vote-getters will be chosen for the general election in November? Democrats will, for the most part, just scan for Dianne Feinstein’s name, the incumbent, the ONLY Dem on the ballot with any name recognition to speak of.
The smaller parties’ candidates will get their usual 1 or 2%, maybe a little more, because there’s no Green running and the Greens will probably vote for P&F, but there are two of those. No chance at all that a “third” party candidate will make it into the #2 spot.
It’s possible that, among the non-Feinstein candidates, no one will get more than 20% of the vote. Do you understand what kind of nutjob could get 20%, if the nutjob has just the slightest bit of name-recognition against a bunch of unknowns?
This is exactly what I was trying to tell everybody when the “Open Primary” thing was on the ballot. It really should have been called the “Top Two” initiative. There was also something glaringly missing in the summary given for it. It DID say:.
…only the two candidates receiving the greatest number
of votes in the primary will appear on the general election
ballot regardless of party preference.
Here’s what it did NOT say:
…only the two candidates receiving the greatest number of
votes in the primary will appear on the general election ballot
regardless of HOW FEW VOTES THOSE TWO CANDIDATES
If there were 1,000 candidates, and no one received more than 1% of the vote, only someone receiving 1% and someone receiving 0.9% would move on to the general election ballot. That’s what Prop 14, which I know some of you voted for, says. That’s the law in California.
Congratulations. You got what you voted for.
If anyone really wanted a better election system, they would propose IRV, but there aren’t any big money interests that want a better system. They want one they can control, and that means making sure only the best-known candidates, those with the most advertising behind them, even get onto the ballot in November. That was the intent of Prop 14 from the start. But they just might get an Orly Taitz out of it.
“But we’ve seen crazy nominees among the Reps in all kinds of elections. How is this any more likely than under the old system?”
…I hear you say.
a couple of differences:
(1) Crossover sabotage. I have no doubt that many Dems, confident that Feinstein will end up in the “top two”, will vote for Orly just for the fun of it. Under the old “closed” primary, only people registered with a given party could vote on that party’s candidates. People connected to the party are more likely to listen to whatever they have in the way of leaders, who might have a clue who the non-crazies are. With an “open” primary, active party members are more easily overwhelmed by votes from outside the party.
(2) No “third” parties appearing on the November ballot at all, ever. Under the old system, there was usually one candidate nominated by each of five or six parties on the ballot in November. Now, there will never be more than two, and they might be from the same party. Two things about this:
- Some day, both the Dems and the Reps are likely to come up with an Orly, or there could be two Orlys on the November ballot from the same party. You might think all “third” parties are crazy, but Orly puts most of them to shame. The chances of getting a non-crazy from among five or six is much greater than between only two.
- One way that a party maintains its ballot access is by receiving a certain percentage of the vote in a general election. Primaries don’t count. With no “third” party candidate ever being listed in a general election ever again, they’re left with only one way to stay alive, under the Elections Code: registration numbers.
That last item is likely to have been a major motive for Prop 14 to begin with.
But what’s most important to remember, though I know voters won’t, is that Prop 14′s proponents told us that it would lead to “more moderate” candidates on the November ballot.
Yeah, we’ll see.
So comment. Tell me I’m wrong.