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California Journal of Politics and Policy

Managing Editor: Lubenow, Gerald

Ed. by Citrin, Jack / Cain, Bruce / Noll, Roger

4 Issues per year

The Top Two Primary: What Can California Learn from Washington?

Todd Donovan1

1Western Washington University

Citation Information: California Journal of Politics and Policy. Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 1–22, ISSN (Online) 1944-4370, DOI: 10.1515/1944-4370.1196, February 2012

Publication History

Published Online:
2012-02-24

Washington�s experience with primary elections provides an opportunity to assess issues associated with implementing the top two primary and an opportunity to examine how changing to a top two primary may affect elections and voting. Although the Washington context is different from California (top two replaced an open partisan primary in Washington, rather than a closed partisan primary), Washington�s experience suggests the effects of this reform have been rather limited. There may have been a slight increase in turnout and a minor increase in campaign expenditure after changing to top two, but it is difficult to link these changes to the primary system. Whatever the cause of the changes, the partisan structure of Washington�s legislature appears unaltered by the new primary system.

Keywords: electoral reform; voter turnout; primary elections

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