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California’s Top Two Primary and the Business Agenda

Abstract

 

California has recently changed the way candidates are nominated in its primaries. The reform was designed in part to encourage cross-party collaboration and moderate the state’s policy agenda. In this paper, I look specifically at the impact of the reform on business regulation issues, as measured by the legislative scorecards of the California Chamber of Commerce. I find that Democrats, but not Republicans, have indeed tended to be more moderate on these issues both recently and under similar reform conditions over a decade ago. But it is difficult to find firm evidence that would credit the reform for these changes. Moreover the Chamber’s policy agenda as a whole is not clearly more successful under such periods of reform. Instead, this business agenda—and by extension, the willingness of Democrats to support it—seems tied solidly to unified or divided partisan control of government.

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