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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Googling the Top Two: Information Search in California’s Top Two Primary



After California’s adoption of the top two primary, voters faced the possibility of ballot choices between co-partisan candidates (two Democrats, for example, or two Republicans). We use the publicly available Google Trends data, which provides the rate of searching for particular words, to evaluate whether Californians are more likely to search for the names of legislators who faced co-partisan challengers in their general election than to search for the names of legislators who faced opposite-partisan challengers in the general election. We find evidence of increased search for the general election and, moreover, find that there is no increase for the primary election, suggesting that when the typical voter loses a key electoral cue (the party label) the voter will rely upon other sources of information to make a voting decision.

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