So I got an email from another blogger who is paying a lot more attention to this sort of thing nation-wide. His missive pretty much confirms the sneaky suspicion I've been harboring about Washington's new "Top Two" election law. We call it a "Louisiana Primary" but we haven't checked out how well that works out in Louisiana itself.
Turns out, someone at the P-I did look (though the links to their blog, not the paper), and discovered that far from creating balanced contests between moderates, this format instead it resolves in more polar contests between extremes. No reason is given, but I would guess that the hard-cores gravitate to their ends of the political spectrum, while the middle ground is a little softer (the "Independents" who don't commit right up front), and divided among more potential candidates.
The killer line the article for me is this, referring to the polar nature of LA primaries: "Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, a supporter of the top-two primary, has said he believes that Washington's reasonable, thoughtful voters would not fall into that pattern." Riiiiight. That's a little bit of state-elitism there that spackles over the potential problems.
This pretty much it confirms something that I've been feeling about this - all of this has been an attempt to "fix" a problem that I think is pretty minor to start with. A greater potential for mischief was presented in the last primary, where Republican gadfly Richard Pope switched parties at the very last moment to become the Democratic candidate for the office, resulting in much moaning and rending of garments. That's not the public creating mischief - that's the candidates, and expect more of the same moving forward.
The bogey-man of cross-over primary voters has given both major parties (and the Libertarian Party, who are in on the lawsuits for reasons I STILL am not clear on) the chance to game the system to an end that is more acceptable to party as opposed to public (and, oh yeah, the Louisiana-style primary is ALSO under siege in Louisiana - go figure). They STILL don't have what they want, so expect another lawsuit or two as we move to the August state primary.
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