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The Top-Two, Take Two: Did Changing the Rules Change the Game in Statewide Contests?

  • Author(s): Kousser, Thad
  • et al.
Abstract

 

Did the new rules implemented by California’s top-two system change the electoral game in the statewide primaries of 2014? This article looks first at overall turnout dynamics before focusing on the closely contested races to gain a spot on the November ballot in the governor's, secretary of state's, and controller’s races. Drawing on an original analysis of polling data as well as interviews with candidates themselves, I find that the top-two shaped the field of candidates who entered the primary, the partisan ballot designations that they chose, and the campaign tactics that they employed. Yet the new rules did not, in the end, discernibly alter the outcomes of the 2014 primaries.

 

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