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Senator Schumer Speaking At Gun Safety Rally
Wrongitty wrong wrong wrong.
As Paul Hogarth and I noted a few days ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer's new push for a "top-2" jungle primary was an abject disaster. As I summarized:
The top-two primary system is a plague, removing the ability of voters to choose their party's nominee, electing unrepresentative officials, reducing candidate choice, and crushing voter participation.
The system is a huge boon for corporatist candidates, so maybe that's Schumer's motivation. But in any case, we now have data showing that his idea is even more wrong than previously thought. Here is Schumer:
California, which probably mirrors the diversity of America more than any other state, was racked by polarization until voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2010 that adopted a “top-two” primary system.
Got that? California was polarized, now it's not! That is what Schumer thinks. So let's see what the data has to say about that:
America’s state legislatures are polarized–just like Congress–between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans [...]

The state that sticks out like a sore thumb is my current home state, California. It is incredibly polarized; Democrats are extremely liberal, and Republicans are extremely conservative. In fact, California’s polarization is considerably larger than that in Congress.

So not only is California "incredibly polarized", it is—by far!—the most polarized state in the country. Even more polarized than the U.S. freakin' Congress! So why would Schumer claim otherwise? Probably because despite that polarization, California is finally getting shit done, and it is finally getting shit done because Democrats have the governor's office and a super-majority in the legislature. It's amazing what can get done when Republicans are erased from the picture.

But that's not all. Guess what state clocks in as the third most polarized state in the country? Washington.And you know what Washington has in common with California? Yup, a top-2 jungle primary system.

So if it's polarization that Schumer fears, then he should run far, far away from the top-2 system he claims will solve all. In fact, he should be advocating for its repeal.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Closed primaries! (35+ / 0-)

    Only members of the party should be able to pick the party's representatives.
    Open primaries and worse, jungle primaries defeat the purpose.

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:18:19 AM PDT

    •  Depends on the purpose (0+ / 0-)

      If the purpose is to select a representative of the party, then let the parties run the primaries. They can pick the date, pay for the rental of state buildings for the elections or beg churches to let them use them, etc.

      But the purpose also seems to be simply to narrow the field. In the case of jungle primaries that is done completely without respect to party affiliation.

      •  Actually, I'd like to see primaries done by (0+ / 0-)

        some kind of online method, if it could be done such that people with little or no internet access could be accommodated.
        But primaries are run by the government to ensure that they are not corrupted, that the parties get an honest result and that is something worth supporting with our tax dollars, IMHO.
        Narrowing the field is a major benefit not only to the parties but to thirds and independents and to the election officials. Having 5 Democrats, 6 Republicans and 5 more assorted thirds running would be a h3ll of a mess to officiate and would end up with a winner that, conceivably could win with 10 percent or less of the votes cast. The way around that would be IRV but that would take a revision to the election laws that so far, hasn't been possible on a state level, nevermind National.

        If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

        by CwV on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:31:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Primaries are not to simply narrow the field (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CwV, underwriter505

        And for good reason - you don't want a mess like California.

        In addition it's waaaaay more efficient to have the parties field, and select, the candidates they feel is best to represent that party.

        Two candidates from the same party running against each other in a general election is a waste of money and time.

        •  "Party Leaders" still have the power to decide (0+ / 0-)

          who will get their support and resources in the primary.

          Two candidates from the same party in the general is not a bad result for democracy.  It tells the other party they need to change, and the two surviving candidates for the general will have the winner be the one that is closer to the center of voters (unless the other party does not show up to vote).  

          The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

          by nextstep on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:01:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Wrong in several ways (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Party Leaders" still have the power to decide who will get their support and resources in the primary.
            So what? That's all meaningless if that party's candidate is eliminated from the ballot.
            Two candidates from the same party in the general is not a bad result for democracy.  It tells the other party they need to change,
            Again - so what? They get that message from losing in a general election too. And we don't have to go through this mess.
            and the two surviving candidates for the general will have the winner be the one that is closer to the center of voters
            Sez who? What makes you think that would be the case? That's just a fantasy you and Schumer have. And why would the "center" candidate be the better choice? Many of the problems we have stem from "center" candidates.

            Add to this the miserable turnout for primaries in California since this "jungle" system has been adopted.

            •  I did not say top 2 is good for Democrats on the (0+ / 0-)

              left, here and elsewhere I explicitly write that this change reduces the power of the left in the Democratic Party and the right in the Republican Party.  My comments were about analysis not advocating for or against.

              I have not reached any conclusions on whether in total this benefits Democrats or not.  I can see how it benefits Sen Schumer (D-Wall Street).

              Top 2 primaries would likely make a big change in US politics.

              The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

              by nextstep on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 03:29:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Top 2 Primaries (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bobcat41702, aratinga

                like we now have in California still seem to be just as polarized as before.  They just mean that in the main election no one gets a chance to vote for anyone in a smaller party.

                I looked at the state senate & representative lists of candidates before the Nov. 2012 election.  Most were one Dem & one GOP, but some were just one party (most of whom were 2 GOP with a few 2 Dem).  None of the other parties were even able to get on the ballot.  I am guessing that it will be the same in the Nov. 2014 election for those races that are covered by this law.

                Before today I had never heard them referred to as Jungle Primaries.

          •  Disagree (0+ / 0-)

            We were the party "leaders." Ordinary Democrats meeting with their neighbors every month.

            We produce more renewable energy than any other state - WA Gov. Jay Inslee

            by mrobinson on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 01:53:24 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  But The Problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is that, in a divided district, the DISCIPLINED party will limit its candidates, so that votes are divided among a smaller group.  The freedom-believing party will allow more candidates, and the votes will thus be divided among a larger group, resulting in a smaller number of votes for each candidate. Thus CA has ended up with GOP vs GOP general elections in districts with large Democrat registration.

    •  If that were the case…well how does Sen. Chris ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If that were the case…well how does Sen. Chris McDaniel sound?

    •  Yep. And "decline-to-state'-ers (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      only get to vote for candidates who also decline to state.

      If you want to vote for a real candidate, you gotta commit dammit.

      Closed party primaries. Please.

      Yes, DailyKos DOES have puzzles! Visit us here Saturday nights @ 5:00 PDT (easier puzzles) and Sunday nights @ 5:00 PDT (more challenging) for a group solving. Even if you just pop in and comment while watching the fun, everybody is welcome. uid:21352

      by pucklady on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 10:16:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Agree. (0+ / 0-)

      We Democrats in the party here do all the work to promote our candidate. We go to meetings every month and interview candidates. Once our party selects someone, we all get behind the candidate with door-to-door. We do the work! I tell voters who whined about not being able the menu, "Do the work or stop complaining about your lost "freedom."

      We produce more renewable energy than any other state - WA Gov. Jay Inslee

      by mrobinson on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 01:51:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Of course, you miss the amusement value (0+ / 0-)

      of crossing over if one Democratic candidate is a shoe in, and voting for the most vile, repugnant GOPer on their primary slate.

  •  Shit gets done with republicans (10+ / 0-)

    in control of everything too.  Just look at Kansas ;)

    Of course you're right about the top two primary debacle. Instant runoff would be far superior, especially with some thought given on exactly how to set it up. Combine it with by mail voting and you suddenly have something more resembling democracy and choice.

    No wonder Schumer isn't advocating it.

    Want a progressive global warming novel, not a right wing rant? Go to and check out New World Orders

    by eparrot on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:18:30 AM PDT

    •  Definitely instant runoff (5+ / 0-)

      Top-2 still requires two rounds of voting, and the top two candidates in a large field may not include anyone who could create a consensus.  Instant runoff allows people to cast their first-choice vote for the candidate they really like, even if it's someone they don't believe is "electable", and a second-choice vote for someone they would accept, even if he's not many people's first choice.  In other words, someone less polarizing, more conciliatory, or even (I hate this term) moderate.  So IRV leads to a less polarizing outcome.

      There's a different theoretical form of voting (I don't think it's ever used) where everyone votes yes/no on each of the candidates, and the one with the highest yes percentage wins.  This again favors approval rating over enthusiasm, but it is just a little too far afield to get anywhere.  IRV is technically easy today (hey, we have computers to do the dirty work that traditionally made vote-counting take a week in Cambridge, which uses ranked-choice voting for its city council) so there's no reason to only pick and choose from systems that could be easily implemented in the 1800s.

      •  IRV would be more polarizing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If more moderate candidates who no one feels strongly about tend to be eliminated first, leaving more extremely liberal and conservative candidates with more devoted supporters who can carry them through the early rounds.

        •  Sounds fine by me. Skewing elections toward a c... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ManhattanMan, Albanius

          Sounds fine by me.

          Skewing elections toward a certain part of the ideological spectrum—even the "middle"—is not legitimate governmental electoral policy.

        •  I think you are correct (0+ / 0-)

          in some ways, though the whole point of IRV is that there aren't "rounds". You just vote once.

          But if you did have rounds, what would carry the extreme candidates through is if there are few of them and many moderate candidates. I'm not sure if that's what would result.

          Want a progressive global warming novel, not a right wing rant? Go to and check out New World Orders

          by eparrot on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:49:29 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In theory (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            IRV is supposed to give you the same result as you did non-instant run-off voting with the same people voting in each round.  I see the elimination of a candidate and the re-tabulation of votes as a new round.

            I don't like IRV if it progresses for several levels because I suspect most voters will only rank 2-4 candidates.  At that point, I'd rather stop and make people cast new ballots involving the remaining candidates.  My preferred system would be to find a way to narrow the field to between two and five candidates, a field small enough to have proper debates, and use IRV at that point.  

            I suspect IRV with 10+ candidates for one seat will be a hideous mess that will give conservatives an advantage due to the relative ideological compactness of their candidates.

        •  eliminate the least acceptable (0+ / 0-)

          There's a variant of IRV in which, at each stage, the candidate with the most last-choice votes (instead of the one with the fewest first-choice votes) is eliminated.  I think this is more likely to elect the candidate who is "everybody's second choice".

      •  Honestly, I would like to see some state experi... (0+ / 0-)

        Honestly, I would like to see some state experiment with a variation on the jungle primary: Top 3

        Except, in this jungle primary voters get two votes. They may vote twice for one candidate or split the vote amongst two candidates. And the top 3 advance. Only each of the three must be from separate parties. And if there is no independent or third party candidate then only two advance. The winner must get 40-45% in the general or IRV must be in place.

        It may or may not work, but the great thing about our 50 states is that we can experiment endlessly on a micro level.

    •  I kind of favor approval voting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      That would have meant that Nader voters in Florida in 2000 could have marked Gore for their second choice. It would greatly increase third-party visibility without the risk of throwing elections by splitting the vote.

      Not that approval voting is perfect. It is a theorem of voting theory that any system can produce unwanted consequences when the candidates align in certain ways.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:01:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  When I saw him at NN, I was struck by 2 things: (5+ / 0-)

    He's shorter than I thought he was, and

    He's really tan. Like he's got permanent TV makeup on.

    "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:19:34 AM PDT

  •  "The top-two primary system is a plague" (5+ / 0-)
        3.1 1. Water into blood (דָם): Ex. 7:14–25
        3.2 2. Frogs (צְּפַרְדֵּעַ): Ex. 7:25–8:11
        3.3 3. Lice (כִּנִּים): Ex. 8:16–19
        3.4 4. Wild animals or flies (עָרוֹב): Ex. 8:20–32
        3.5 5. Diseased livestock (דֶּבֶר): Ex. 9:1–7
        3.6 6. Boils (שְׁחִין): Ex. 9:8–12
        3.7 7. Storms of fire (בָּרָד): Ex. 9:13–35
        3.8 8. Locusts (אַרְבֶּה): Ex. 10:1–20
        3.9 9. Darkness (חוֹשֶך): Ex. 10:21–29
        3.10 10. Death of firstborn (מַכַּת בְּכוֹרוֹת): Ex. 11:1–12:36
    Cliche much Senator?

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:20:43 AM PDT

  •  In addition (5+ / 0-)

    there was the fine Obama-leaning CD in which the top-two 2012 Congressional candidates...were Republicans.

    And using the American way -- bomb the problem with money -- there will be plenty of these tactical candidates in the future.

    Top-two is in large part a Republican scheme, to drive Libertarian candidates off the fall ballot, because they think despite polling that Libertarians like Sarvis and Fishman keep Republican losers from winning.

    If Schumer thinks it is so good, he should try bringing it -- only two PARTIES for each race on the November ballot -- to New York. (8^))

    Restore the Fourth! Save America!

    by phillies on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:21:24 AM PDT

  •  We say it all the time, anecdotes are not evide... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    We say it all the time, anecdotes are not evidence, so lets see some detailed research. But I do agree that Top Two is lousy. IRV would be much better. And cheaper.

  •  Wait a sec (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MrJersey, La Gitane

    Is the point being made here that the top-2 system is bad for the party and country, despite how it appears to have helped Dems dominate CA & WA and as a result be able to get good progressive things done, or that Schumer's reasons for supporting a top-2 system are belied by the facts? Me confused.

    Myself, I prefer traditional closed primaries & caucuses, where only registered party members get to chose among only fellow registered party members, and if you don't like the choices, join another party or start your own damn one. I don't want a Repub, indie or Green determining my party's nominees.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:32:38 AM PDT

    •  I don't think there's any evidence that it has (4+ / 0-)

      helped Democrats to "dominate CA & WA".

      We no longer ask if a man has integrity, but if he has talent. - Rousseau, Discourse on the arts and sciences

      by James Allen on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:37:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So top-2 has been politically neutral? (0+ / 0-)

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:47:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  well it has resulted in Dems getting locked out (0+ / 0-)

          of CA-31 in 2012, which is a Dem-leaning district, and CA-25 this year, which is Republican-leaning but should be competitive since its open. Republicans haven't gotten locked out of any general elections in competitive districts. It nearly happened in CA-31 this year, too, but one of our candidates scraped by with a margin of something like 200 votes. Democrats are fundamentally disadvantaged because our voters are less likely to turn out in primaries, so we're much more likely to get locked out by the primary, but it could happen to them, too. There should not be a scenario where Obama wins a district but 2 Republicans were in the general election, or Romney won it but 2 Democrats make it to the general.

          We no longer ask if a man has integrity, but if he has talent. - Rousseau, Discourse on the arts and sciences

          by James Allen on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:56:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It didn't help Dems at all (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Losty, Capt Crunch, Egalitare

      You should reread the post for why Schumer is wrong about the Top 2 lessening partisanship, which s the point of the diary.

      •  The post claims several things (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        La Gitane

        One is that Schumer's assertion that partisan polarization is bad, is wrong. I agree with that. Also that Schumer's assertion that top-2 primary systems reduce polarization, is also wrong. I agree with that too.

        It also asserts that CA, which recently adopted a top-2 system, is just as polarized as ever, if not more so, but in a good way, both for CA Dems and for the state, because they're finally able to get things done--good, progressive things. I agree that this polarization, insofar as it's favored Dems, has been good for both. But is there a causal link between adopting the top-2 system and Dems now dominating the state politically? If so, it would tend to go against the assertion that top-2 is bad.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:24:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree - (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          We were trending towards super majority status before top two.

          I don't like top two because I don't like the idea of two general candidates from the same party, but it has nothing to do with increasing polarization. Gerrymandering increases polarization; these crazy snake-like blood red districts are what is producing all the right wing lunatics.

          California has a dem supermajority because the other thing that happened in 2010 were new non-partisan district maps drawn by a citizen commission. And though we are very polarized, we still have more libs than conservatives. The legislature reflects that.

          Mediocrity cannot know excellence ~ Sherlock Holmes

          by La Gitane on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:53:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've never had any problem with polarization (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            La Gitane

            Meaning true, bipolar polarization. It's how representative democracy works and thrives. Democracy NEEDS polarization. Otherwise it stagnates. The problem with the US these days isn't polarization, but too much one-sided polarization, by the side that's done the country and world enormous harm during its time in power. Which is not polarization, but one-party rule.

            The left fighting to hold onto the gains of the past and push through new ones, however weakly, against a right that has dominated US politics for over 30 years, is not polarization. It's bullyrization. There's no equivalence here.

            "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

            by kovie on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 10:06:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  No causal link there The reason that happened i... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          No causal link there

          The reason that happened is because, around the same time, California's new nonpartisan redistricting commission's un-gerrymandered districts went into effect.

          It was surprising to most (me included) that, in a D majority state, un-gerrymandering led to more D seats. But that's because it was gerrymandered to protect incumbents rather than only to maximize D seats, back when there was also a 2/3 legislative vote requirement for passing a budget, i.e. when Rs had some power left.

          So, no causal link. By the way, the Rs still have outsize power because it's still 2/3 to pass a tax. And then there's the fact that corporate money has sloshed into "moderate" D candidates' coffers.

        •  is there a causal link between adopting the top-2 (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          is there a causal link between adopting the top-2 system and Dems now dominating the state politically?

          The Republicans have been marginalized by going further and further into CrazyLand. They've managed to alienate almost everybody.

          THAT'S the cause for Democrats dominating the California scene.

        •  That a rhetorical flourish (0+ / 0-)

          aimed at Schumers ridiculous statement that he is for Top 2 because it lessens partisanship look at Cali"

          That' not Kos making an argument for the proposition.

          Come on.

    •  Yes, I'm saying it's bad (0+ / 0-)

      for our party. It didn't help us dominate the WA legislature because enough Dem's defected to the Republican side that we lost our majority.

      Top two is bad because it weakens participation in Democratic Party events; it weakens loyalty to your neighborhood, thus county & state Dems. It weakens your identification as a Washington Democrat. If you want a say in who gets to run for office, you vote at meetings as a member. Otherwise, shut up.

      We produce more renewable energy than any other state - WA Gov. Jay Inslee

      by mrobinson on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 02:02:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where does that quote about polarization in CA (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Armando, Simplify, Capt Crunch

    come from? There's no link or attribution.

    To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

    by sneakers563 on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:34:32 AM PDT

  •  and why you shouldn't vote for it in Oregon this (9+ / 0-)

    year especially: it would make it so that vacancies in the legislature no longer need to be filled by someone from the same party. Vacancies currently and under the ballot measure would be filled by appointments made by the county commissions for the counties the district is in. Currently precinct committee persons in the district, from the party of the person last elected to the district, make nominations to the county commission. The Top 2 ballot measure inexplicably gets rid of this, and the requirement that the appointee be of the same party as the person last elected.

    Why is this extremely bad? Well, first of all it just flouts the will of the voters. But secondly, roughly half of the legislative districts that Obama won in 2012 are predominantly in counties where the county commissions are run by Republicans. It would give Republicans a huge chance to meddle in Democratic-leaning districts, especially in the suburbs.

    I'm going to do a full-fledged post, but I just had to take this opportunity to get the word out.

    We no longer ask if a man has integrity, but if he has talent. - Rousseau, Discourse on the arts and sciences

    by James Allen on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:35:03 AM PDT

    •  Thanks in advance! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      James Allen

      I saw the initiative list yesterday and didn't even realize top two might be on the ballot (and O.T., I know, but I saw the Oregonian as I was walking into breakfast, so I bought it dead tree for the first time in maybe 2 years. 12 fucking pages. For a dollar. Even the sports section sucked. Most articles consisted of a headline, a paragraph or two and "go to our website for the full story". And their website sucks too. Sigh...I'll wait for your diary.) It's gonna be a fun year with GMO, equal rights amendment and pot, just to name a few.

      I really don't appreciate your incivility and rudeness. Armando 7/23/11

      by liberte on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:29:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Top-two primaries have another big drawback (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, cassandra m

    Top-two primaries often lead to one political party getting both of the available spots in the general election. In a couple of California congressional races since the implementation of the top-two system there, this led to Republicans getting both of the general election slots in congressional districts.

    Another drawback of the top-two primary system is it encourages party officials to throw their support en masse behind favored candidates over the party's other candidates in the race, largely out of fear that the other major party would get both of the slots in the general election. A top-two system benefits candidates who have a ton of political connections and have ties to special interests.

    I support a so-called "semi-partisan" primary, which all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, appear on the same primary ballot, however, unlike the top-two system, any political party that receives at least 1% of the primary vote sends its highest vote-getter to the general election, and any independent candidate who gets at least 1% of the vote also advances to the general election.

    I could see why a corporate Democrat like Schumer would support the top-two would give party bosses more incentive to throw their support behind corporate candidates.

    •  I would add to the 'semi-partisan' primary, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, cassandra m

      that in the event that the voter has an option to vote for multiple candidates, i.e., the position being voted upon is to fill 2 or more seats, if the voter checks off candidates from more than one party, the ballot would be disallowed.  (you only vote for the party whose affiliation you have chosen).  This would probably be most appropriate for city council, school board, etc., positions up for election.  
      Republican or Democrat, or other, a corporatist is a corporatist is a corporatist.  Same beast, different suit.

    •  Top Two - Different Strategies are Needed.... (0+ / 0-)

      The more Dems or Reps that run in a top two primary can make the difference in splitting the vote (and knocking out someone who would normally advance in a traditional primary).

      In Eastern WA, we've got plenty of Republican races where no Democrats are filing.  Under top two, if a single Dem filed, they might make it into the top two (and the split Republican vote might get a Tea Bagger into the top two).

      The Washington State Democratic Party needs to figure this out and plan ahead.

      •  actually in WA-04, where Doc Hastings is retiring (0+ / 0-)

        there are like 8 Republicans running, 2 Independents, and 2 Democrats. There is a tiny chance the Dems could win the two spots, or a Dem and an Independent, but I think we're likely guaranteed one spot.

        We no longer ask if a man has integrity, but if he has talent. - Rousseau, Discourse on the arts and sciences

        by James Allen on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:08:26 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  One would hope (0+ / 0-)

      that this would eventually lead to new parties. If a district consistently has two Democrats, one would think eventually that someone would decide, you know what, Im labeling myself as Green to get out that Im the real liberal here.

      Similar with Republicans - Tea Party vs Republican.

  •  California bad; Tennessee worse (0+ / 0-)

    Maybe it is impossible to pass a law that would "erase Republicans" from the map.  So "polarization" is a word like "reform" in education that is really a cover for something else.

    In Tennessee we have a primary system where virtually no one is contested.  A top two system would at least allow for a Tea Party Republican vs a practical Republican.

    It may be true that Fat Cats can control the California electoral system.  But they control the Tennessee system even more.  I believe we need to watch more election cycles in California to see how it works in comparison to other states.

    I'm from Johnson City.

    by Al Fondy on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:38:33 AM PDT

    •  Fiddling with primary rules is dealing with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Losty, artmartin

      the wrong problem, like Yossarian in Catch-22 treating the wrong wound. To get elected Republican numbers to match their minority numbers in the electorate, we need to outlaw partisan gerrymandering and voter suppression measures, and create a new, SCOTUS-proof preclearance list, at the very next opportunity. Say when we take the House on Hillary's coattails in 2016, assuming that the Republicans don't do something stupid enough to give us the House this year, like try to shut down the government again.

      Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

      by Mokurai on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:09:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Louisiana has a top 2 jungle primary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And they're one of the least polarized states according to that study.

    Not making a judgement as to which system is right but just wanted to mention that there's a data point against that claim.

    Proud to share my name with Howard Dean

    by DeanNC on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:39:08 AM PDT

    •  You miss kos' point imo (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJersey, annieli, Egalitare

      He's not arguing that Top 2 has ANY effect on partisanship.

      He's refuting Schumer's contention that it reduces partisanship.

      He used California because Schumer did.

      •  I didn't quite read it that way (0+ / 0-)
        So if it's polarization that Schumer fears, then he should run far, far away from the top-2 system he claims will solve all. In fact, he should be advocating for its repeal.
        He seems to be implying that the top-2 system has some polarizing effect in that conclusion.  Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't.  Just thought the case of Louisiana should also be mentioned.

        Personally, I prefer IRV as the most efficient method of electing representatives reflective of the voter's desires.  One election, no need for extra costs of low-turnout runoffs, and you avoid the clown car effect of 2 republicans fighting over an Obama district because millions of dems split the vote.

        Proud to share my name with Howard Dean

        by DeanNC on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:04:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Louisiana Primary (0+ / 0-)

      I thought we had invented this idiotic system. LA has a Republican Legislature, 1 US Senator, 4 out 5 Congressmen and the Governor. And look at the disaster this state has become.
      Instant Run Off Voting would be the progressive way to go.

  •  Isn't Schumer's goal here (11+ / 0-)

    Really to kill fusion voting in New York?  He can't advocate simply going to the usual method, so he has to call for something which looks different.

    Both the Working Families and Conservative Parties in New York should raising hell about this attempt to stifle their influence.  Is Schumer doing this at the behest of Andrew Cuomo, who has been inconvenienced by the WFP?

    •  Ding! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thenekkidtruth, Losty, paulex, Capt Crunch

      The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

      by raboof on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:06:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Schumer did a couple of things during the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Capt Crunch

      healthcare debate that let me know he was not my friend and that he was a tool of the insurance industry.  He continues to cement that impression with almost every utterance he makes.

      I am no Schumer fan and I think New York could do a lot better.

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:27:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can he be the Democratic Thad Cochran? (0+ / 0-)

        Except that he gets defeated.

        Cochran has a solid conservative voting record.  Schumer looks to have a liberal voting record, as measured by places such as Progressive Punch.  I've argued that the targets for progressive primary challenges should be establishment Democrats perceived as liberal, but not seen as liberal enough here, rather than the most conservative Democrats.  Make politicians feel the terror that no one is safe, rather than letting them think they are safe so long as they have someone to their right to give them cover.

  •  Link for the data? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Naniboujou, sneakers563

    I'm sure it is true, but a link would be nice.

    •  this may be the link (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

      by annieli on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:16:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Does that first plot (state legislative ideology) (0+ / 0-)

        show Arizona's legislature as slightly more liberal than the US as a whole?

        To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

        by sneakers563 on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 10:21:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Unfortunately, that's how screwed up our legislatures are right now. While the AZ result may seem implausible, it's explained by two factors:

          -The AZ leg. Republican majority is relatively small compared to other red states.
          -The AZ leg. Democratic caucus is more liberal than average.

          Given that majorities nearly always get their way, however, perhaps the more interesting measure is the ideology of the majority. And here, AZ scores toward the conservative end (hence, it's third in the next chart: polarization).

          "I've always admired your tart honesty and ability to be personally offended by broad social trends." -Principal Skinner.

          by cardinal on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:08:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah, I see it's #3 in polarization (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Still, I was somewhat surprised that it falls on the liberal side of the spectrum overall.

            To believe that markets determine value is to believe that milk comes from plastic bottles. Bromley (1985)

            by sneakers563 on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:21:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  If the "middle" were (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              an absolute middle -- pegged to ideology -- then the AZ leg would be right of center. But unfortunately, Republicans dominate state legislatures by such a ferocious margin that a closely-split leg with liberal Democrats like AZ falls on the left-hand side. It's truly depressing for anyone who realizes that state government has more impact on (most of) our day-to-day lives than the federal government. 2010 was the disaster that keeps on giving.

              "I've always admired your tart honesty and ability to be personally offended by broad social trends." -Principal Skinner.

              by cardinal on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:32:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  California (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But didn't the Dems in Calif mostly go along with Browns cuts to the budget?

    So even though the dems are in control it's not like fiscally they are going off the cliff or anything due to liberal policies.

    What I'm saying is if dems are mostly incorporating what the GOP claims to stand for, fiscal restraint, and really the only thing the GOP is doing is trying to block everything to make the dems look bad who needs bipartisanship.

  •  schumer is mistaken (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    or outright lying, there are few liberals in congress or america and his and other pols dem & gop show their allegiance to each other, the electorate are either tools to a means or collateral damage after election time.

  •  Schumer... (4+ / 0-)

    Doesn't want to do the hard work of actually, you know, defining a party platform on a national scale and actually, you know, sticking to it.  He just wants to placate his corporate masters with having to ground himself in any principle.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck (Disputed)

    by RichM on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:51:28 AM PDT

    •  God I suck today... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJersey, Capt Crunch

      placate his corporate masters WITHOUT having to ground himself...

      “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” - John Steinbeck (Disputed)

      by RichM on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 08:53:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "It's amazing what can get done when Republicans (0+ / 0-)

    are erased from the picture."

    Well, maybe not. A friend in Illinois keeps telling me that the state is flat broke and insists decades of Dem government are responsible. He doesn't like Republicans any more than I do.

  •  But it's neat! (0+ / 0-)

    It makes Schumer look like a thinker! Who cares about the results?

    Early to rise and early to bed Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and dead. --Not Benjamin Franklin

    by Boundegar on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 09:12:48 AM PDT

  •  Is there any chance at all... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Al Fondy

    that Schumer is seeing what is happening in California (That getting shit done business) and wanting that, but trying to get there by promoting a top-2 system?  Would California be where they are today without the top-2 system?

    If "more polarizing" means more progressives in office, and with a majority... then I'm kinda liking that...

  •  I don't have $1,000,000 (0+ / 0-)

    But if I did, I'd spend it on the repeal of prop 14.

  •  Impact of California top 2, still to early to know (0+ / 0-)

    2014 is only the second election year this is being used.  It takes a little time for candidate process to adjust.

    Based upon the math of this primary process compared to party based primaries this should result in:

    1 - Primary winners more closely represent majority of all voters not just a single party, so winning primary candidates are closer to the middle - and therefore so will winners of the general.  Extremes of parties have a significant decline in power. So for Democrats, those with views most to the left lose the most power, similarly for the far right with Republicans.  This is why strong progressives generally oppose this type of primary.

    2 - Political parties have less power, unless "party leaders" decide in advance of the primary which candidate will get their support and resources.  More power to interest groups that provide resources to one or another candidate.

    3 - Well known people can run without a party affiliation and have a reasonable chance of winning.

    4 - Incentives for "party discipline" when there are too many candidates from one party with no clear leaders - otherwise this can result in the other party having both candidates in the general election.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 10:56:33 AM PDT

  •  Sen. Schumer is right for what he wants (0+ / 0-)

    Top 2 primaries decreases the power and influence of the left in the Democrats and the right in the Republicans.

    Sen Schumer wants to decrease the power of the left in the Democratic Party, this is one way to do.

    So for what Sen Schumer this is the better primary, but for Kos it is the worse primary.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:12:53 AM PDT

  •  1. schumer not too bright (0+ / 0-)

    2. 2 party system is arbitrary and unhelpful
    3. rules perpetuating unrepresentative governance are choking us down to death.

    decent wages don't eliminate jobs. Republicans eliminate jobs; and workers, and prospects, and then excuse it all and call for more austerity. there is no end to their ignorant, arrogant avarice. only political dinosaurs support their treachery.

    by renzo capetti on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 11:17:37 AM PDT

  •  Love the analysis. Not what (0+ / 0-)

    I expected at all. I see your point. I am simply happy I am at the correct pole :)

  •  Disagree strongly, 2 past the poll works (0+ / 0-)

    It works very well in my state of Washington. What it does do is diminish the power of parties to edict who will be on the ballot and instead calls on all the voters.  The ballot in my state does not give any special favor to parties. The only thing I would change in my state would be that a candidate could only claim a party endorsement if the party provides it. The way it stands now, we've had a couple of imposters e.g. Republicans posing as Democrats.  

    But over all, voting participation is way up in this state and more diversity is appearing on the ballot.

    --United Citizens defeated Citizens United...This time. --

    by chipoliwog on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 02:01:46 PM PDT

    •  Disagree. Not working well in WA. (0+ / 0-)

      Our Democratic Party members voted for candidates at our meetings. Were you ever a member? Did you do the [sometimes tedious] work of interviewing candidates who appeared at meeting to ask for our votes? If you call yourself a Democrat, do you participate in any way other than voting?

      We produce more renewable energy than any other state - WA Gov. Jay Inslee

      by mrobinson on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 02:11:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm a member of the Democratic Party. (0+ / 0-)

        Our Party should have the right to pick our candidate. It's our party; it's our candidate. We did the work, then we ask for the votes, door-to-door. If others don't like that, they should form their own party, pick their own candidates, do their own damn work.

        We produce more renewable energy than any other state - WA Gov. Jay Inslee

        by mrobinson on Fri Jul 25, 2014 at 02:17:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  In Washington State offices are held by PEOPLE (0+ / 0-)

          The Constitution of the state cares not one wit about parties.

          The system of voting here does provide for a form of party affiliation on the ballot. I would grant you that I would like to see it adjusted so that a party could identify it's preferred candidate.

          Overall, we get better results, higher turnout and so far, it has favored Democrats and progressives.

          --United Citizens defeated Citizens United...This time. --

          by chipoliwog on Mon Jul 28, 2014 at 01:44:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The problem with jungle primaries is that (0+ / 0-)

    you end up living under The Law of the Jungle.  There's already too much of that in America.  Louisiana's not a bad example.

    Someone is trying to push this in Colorado.  If you live in Colorado, be sure to vote, and to vote "NO."  (but for Udall, Neguse, and Markey.)

  •  California (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am a Native Californian. Born and raised. I love my state. Yes we sometimes fight among ourselves. But we are a progressive state. The polarization comes from outsiders who have moved to California. All these Slave State transplants are trying to make California like all the other states. We aren't. Stanford just decided to get rid of all coal interests. All their trustees are getting rid of their coal stocks. Right now keeping other fossil fuels until they can convert to renewable energy. I love them for this. We will save our state. We have also stopped Big Oil from Fracking. They started their fracking and were shut down. We are a drought state. We cannot allow these Big Oil Corporations to foul our ground water with their chemicals. Fracking is BAD. Tar sands are Bad. Oil is Bad. We may not win every fight against these interlopers who have come to our state but we are up for the fight. If you don't like it here move. I love California. We are polarized at times. But I find we are still a state of free thinkers. We love our environment. Hopefully the coal companies that came here will be forced to leave. No coal mines in California. I don't want to see the tops of mountains gone for miles. These companies are vile. California my home sweet home.

  •  Wrinkle on the Top Two concept (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm not sure if the following proposal would fix whatever supposedly is wrong with the Top Two system, but it would certainly make it more democratic.

    After the initial primary, the finalists should NOT necessarily be the top two; rather it should be how ever many top finalists, added together, total more than 50%.

    For example, if the top finalists won with these percentages, 24%, 23% and 22%, then naming just the top two is undemocratic, inasmuch as 53% of the voters voted AGAINST both of them.

    The solution is to include the third-place finisher, at which point the final runoff then has candidates who were supported by 68% of the voters in the initial primary.

    What do you think?

    A very dramatic historical example might suffice.  A few years ago, there were several candidates running in Egypt, including a Mubarak loyalist, a secularist and Morsi (the Muslim Brotherhood candidate).

    The Mubarakite and Morsi came in first and second, while the secularist came in third.  But only the Mubarakite and Morsi advanced to the runoff.  BUT THEIR TOTALS WERE LESS THAN 50%!  If the secularist had been included in the final runoff, the result not only would have been more democratic; it would have been PERCEIVED as more democratic.  Moreover, the leading candidates would have had to appeal to each other's bases in order to win enough votes to get the 50%+1 total.  More coalition, more unity, more democracy.

    This is a simple concept and I think it would fix a problem that plagues many modern electoral systems around the world.

    •  Top Two is still new (0+ / 0-)

      in Washington State. My complaint with the previous system was the use of caucuses instead of a statewide ballot. Caucuses discriminate against those who can't easily travel for physical, financial or other reasons to be at a specific site at a specific time in order to cast a vote. That ability should not be required before a citizen can participate in selecting candidates of their party.

      The change to Top Two was passed at the ballot box so the parties should take that as a repudiation of the way candidates were being chosen in the past. I'm not sure that this is the best solution but it definitely weakens the power of the most extreme members of both parties. I was astonished to look through the results of the last general election in my state and see how many candidates for the legislature were unopposed. Maybe not needing a formal endorsement from their party will increase competition in future elections.

      I like the idea that candidates shouldn't be allowed to claim party affiliation without an actual party endorsement (even though our ballots state that such claims don't imply actual endorsement by the party). The problem with requiring more than 50% of the vote for the top two before the general election as suggested by criggs is that it could conceivably necessitate multiply runoffs.

      •  Top 50% + 1 or IR (0+ / 0-)

        Larrydonline wrote:  "The problem with requiring more than 50% of the vote for the top two before the general election as suggested by criggs is that it could conceivably necessitate multiply runoffs."

        Quite so.  But there is only one solution to that, and it remains really the best solution, even though it's one of the tougher ones to sell due to unfamiliarity.  And that solution is instant runoff.

        The good thing about instant runoff is that there has to be one election and only one election.  Effectively one is holding a bunch of elections all at the same time, and you take care of all of it in one fell swoop.

        Unfortunately, even though it is an amazingly simple concept, I have yet to explain it successfully to anyone who isn't already somewhat familiar with it; it truly is an alien concept to most Americans, and one to which they are extraordinarily resistant, usually without having the vaguest notion what they're talking about.  Very frustrating.

        The biggest knock on it is that it's "complex", an excellent illustration of how profoundly the concept is misunderstood; in fact, it is an extraordinarily simple and straightforward concept.

  •  Shill extraordinaire! (0+ / 0-)

    Schumer has been around too long and doesn't represent the people...time for him to go!  

  •  What did we expect (0+ / 0-)

    Schumer is a self serving, self promoting hack. He has spent too much time serving Wall Street, and big banks. Does the D infront of senator stand for duh?

  •  KOS (0+ / 0-)

         What the hell are you saying?  Are you trying reverse psychology on the dumb asses who are the conservative republicans........  It just might work!  Shhh, I won't breathe a word of it..... Uh oh..... I just did!  But, believe you me, they don't understand a word I'm saying; if there are any among them left who are able to read at all!!!  Ignorance is their forte' -- Stupidity is their game -- MORON IS THEIR NAME!!!

  •  But the effect has been to enable those states ... (0+ / 0-)

    But the effect has been to enable those states to break the gridlock and actually get things done. Frankly, who gives a damn whether it reduces polarization, if the candidates who are elected are able to do the things that need to be done?

  •  There are more than two parties... (0+ / 0-)

    and that is what Dems and Reps wanted.  The third parties are all but gone into the dustbin of history.  

  •  Kos, thank you (0+ / 0-)

    Dust storms have replaced the monsoon in the SW.  The west is bone dry, crops in the east have been devasted by cold and rain.  California is the bread, fruit and vegetable basket for much of the US.

    Mr. Schumer should travel more. The east is no longer the center of our republic.

  •  Here's how you solve the voting problem (0+ / 0-)

    Keep the polls open for three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday or maybe a week. Let everyone vote with a proven ID including bills that show where they live. Put enough voting booths in the areas where it would take a person no longer than 15 minutes to vote and let everyone or as many people become candidates as can qualify to get on the ballot. This would not cost any more than it cost to try and suppress the vote with the many law suites and challenges we see today. Then and only then can we see a real Democracy.

  •  i will go alomg with any system that eliminates (0+ / 0-)

    the pollution of our governing system with know nothing, do nothing Republicans. Vote them all out, at every level and let them learn what it really means to be American before they get elected as even dog catcher.

  •  I recall checking out duirng the (0+ / 0-)

    last election cycle and seeing that the Senator had about $20 million in his campaign war chest with employees of the financial services industry being heavy contributors.

  •  Schumer wrong??? (0+ / 0-)

    Naw,  Schumer is NEVER wrong, at least when it comes to his precious Israel.  That's why Israel annually gets more money from our federal government than our own states do, isn't it Chuckie?  Schumer, like so many of his tribe, believe they were sent to Washington to represent Israel.  

  •  This isn't quite right (0+ / 0-)

    I'm really not sure where the assertions that the top-2 primary system "elects unrepresentiative officials," "reduces choice," and "crushes participation" come out of. Except that in this case it's mostly ipse dixit ideology.

    (NB: I've lived in California since 1974.)

    The top-2 system was voted in to bring more moderate candidates to state office and make automatic incumbency harder. It's critical to understand that it was coupled with other measures, by far the most significant being non-partisan re-districting.

    So top-two, at least here, has more to do with creating a more open and competitive political ecosystem, than some sort of blanket political de-polarization.

    The main argument against it - a decent one - is that it tends to favor the party with less fractious primaries. With a lot of candidates, primary votes get split and the other party benefits even though they may not have anything close to the same level of support.

    My own belief is that, over time, this will encourage state party structures to reduce their support for marginal candidates. Some may see that as a philosophical Terrible Thing. But in the age of the CA billionaire candidate, I'm not so sure. At any rate, this is what the voters intended when they ratified it.

    Ideology aside, the truth is we simply don't know, in California, how this will play out. It has only been in effect for a couple of years. In Washington, where it's been in effect longer - 6 years, the results appear to be modestly positive in creating more open and competitive races.

    There is certainly the law of unintended consequences. I remember well the successful push for term limits here about 20 years ago. Which have done little of what was expected, but did open the door wider to a lobbyist-controlled legislature. The overall failure of term limits is a big part of what inspired this most recent round of reforms.

    Top-two is a modest, incremental reform. In California it will likely benefit moderate conservatives, at least for a while. Not my personal cup of tea, but nonetheless I don't feel in the least disenfranchised by it.

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