Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-99c86f546-66nw2 Total loading time: 0.187 Render date: 2021-11-28T12:33:13.283Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Extreme districts, moderate winners: Same-party challenges, and deterrence in top-two primaries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2020

Jesse Crosson*
Affiliation:
Center for the Study of Democratic Politics, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA Political Science, Trinity University, San Antonio, Texas, USA
*
Corresponding author. Email: jcrosson9@gmail.com

Abstract

In an effort to break the link between districts' lack of competitiveness and the election of ideologues, Washington and California recently adopted the “top-two” primary election system. Among other features, the top-two primary allows members of the same party to run against one another in the general election. Although proponents argue that this system encourages the election of more moderate candidates in highly partisan districts, early reports have uncovered mixed evidence of this effect. This study addresses this puzzle by first disentangling the conditions under which one should expect such primaries to encourage the election of more moderate candidates. Using election returns data from the 2008 through 2014 elections, I find that districts facing same-party general-election competition do elect more moderate legislators than similar districts not subject to same-party competition. However, using an application of a common regression discontinuity diagnostic test, I also find that elite actors appear able to strategically avoid this kind of competition—partially explaining why broader effects of the top-two have not been uncovered. The findings contribute not only to ongoing debates about the effectiveness of the top-two primary, but also to our understanding of how political elites may maneuver institutional changes to their own benefit.

Type
Original Article
Copyright
Copyright © The European Political Science Association 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Ahler, DJ, Citrin, J and Lenz, GS (2016) Do open primaries improve representation? An experimental test of California's 2012 top-two primary. Legislative Studies Quarterly 41, 237268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bonica, A (2013) Database on ideology, money in politics, and elections: Public version 1.0 [Computer file]. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Libraries. Available at http://data.stanford.edu/dime.Google Scholar
Bonica, A (2014) Mapping the ideological marketplace. American Journal of Political Science 58, 367387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bonica, A (2018) Inferring roll-call scores from campaign contributions using supervised machine learning. American Journal of Political Science 62, 830848.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Canes-Wrone, B, Brady, DW and Cogan, JF (2002) Out of step, out of office: electoral accountability and house members’ voting. American Political Science Review 96, 127140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cohn, G (2014) In plain sight: the rise of corporate democrats in California. The Huffington Post, 15 April 2014.Google Scholar
Diamond, A and Sekhon, JS (2013) Genetic matching for estimating causal effects: a general multivariate matching method for achieving balance in observational studies. Review of Economics and Statistics 95, 932945.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Elections & Voting. Washington Secretary of State. Available at https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/.Google Scholar
Grose, CR (2014) The Adoption of Electoral Reforms and Ideological Change in the California State Legislature. Los Angeles: USC Schwarzenegger Institute.Google Scholar
Jacob, R, Zhu, P, Somers, MA and Bloom, H (2012) A Practical guide to regression discontinuity. MDRC.Google Scholar
Kousser, T, Phillips, J and Shor, B (2018) Reform and representation: a new method applied to recent electoral changes. Political Science Research and Methods 6, 809827.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McCrary, J (2006) Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: a density test. National Bureau of Economic Research.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
McGhee, E and Shor, B (2017) Has the top two primary elected more moderates? Perspectives on Politics 15, 10531066.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Prior Elections. California Secretary of State. Available at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/prior-elections/Google Scholar
Reed, S (2017) Interview with Sam Reed about the passage of the top-two primary in Washington. Jesse M. Crosson, interviewer.Google Scholar
Shor, B and McCarty, N (2011) The ideological mapping of American legislatures. American Political Science Review 105, 530551.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Sinclair, A (2015) Winning from the center: Frank Bigelow and California's nonpartisan primary. California Journal of Politics and Policy 7, 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, KW (2016) Top-two and candidate ideologies: a quixotic quest for change. MPSA Annual Meeting Paper.Google Scholar
Tausanovitch, C and Warshaw, C (2013) Measuring constituent policy preferences in congress, state legislatures, and cities. The Journal of Politics 75, 330342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Walters, D (2014) Opinion: California's top two primary has had major impact. Sacramento Bee, 28 December 2014.Google Scholar
Supplementary material: Link

Crosson Dataset

Link
Supplementary material: PDF

Crosson supplementary material

Appendix

Download Crosson supplementary material(PDF)
PDF 331 KB

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Extreme districts, moderate winners: Same-party challenges, and deterrence in top-two primaries
Available formats
×

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Extreme districts, moderate winners: Same-party challenges, and deterrence in top-two primaries
Available formats
×

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Extreme districts, moderate winners: Same-party challenges, and deterrence in top-two primaries
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *