A funny thing happened to California on the way to its moment of glory as the decider of the fate of the next Republican presidential nominee. Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Ohio Governor John Kasich abruptly quit the race in early May, a month before California’s June 7 vote, leaving the California landscape wide open to Donald Trump.
Since 2000, on average, 44% of registered voters have cast a ballot in the California Presidential primary – a whopping 31 points below the average Presidential general election turnout. There has been much debate about the causes and consequences of low primary turnout, but at the end of the day, it is apparent that while the June primary lays the foundation for the November general election, Californians don’t have much urgency to be a part of that masonry.
With two elections under the belts of California voters using the “Top Two” primary system, the verdict is in: the new primary is accomplishing the goals stated by supporters when Proposition 14 was passed in 2010. Well…sort of.
If a California-style Top Two primary were in place for presidential races, in 2008 the nation’s voters would have had to choose between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the general election. There would have been no “third party” candidates on the ballot – and no chance for voters to show their disgust by writing in “Mickey Mouse.”
This year’s national election may be unlike any we’ve seen before, especially at the top of the ticket. But a disconcerting constant remains up and down the ballot: the influence of large sums of undisclosed money.