Open Primaries Movement Gains Momentum

Open Primaries Movement Gains Momentum


The victory in California for independent voters with Proposition 14 has strengthened the movement for open primaries around the country:

Arizonans should watch closely (The Arizona Republic) Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s outgoing Republican governor, readily acknowledged in a news conference that the goal is to reduce the power of political parties: “We wanted to have the politicians be public servants and not party servants.” He touted open primaries as a way to keep politicians from getting “stuck in their ideological corners.”

In Our View: One More Top Two – Washington’s system for primary voting is starting to catch on elsewhere (The Columbian – WA)

EDITORIAL: Watch this California experiment: State’s move to an open primary might reveal what works, what doesn’t (The Buffalo News, printed on But it is a big step with a noble purpose. New York should watch and learn.

House backs open primary elections for 2011 (Capitol News Bureau, Louisiana Politics Blog, By JORDAN BLUM, Advocate Capitol News Bureau)

For more news for independent voters, see The Hankster

  • kranky kritter

    Christie has Palin beat!

    Since there’s no place else to really place this here, I am officially renewing my request to have an open thread every Friday or Monday. Sort of a “what’s on your mind?” thing,

    Anyway, I’d like to point out this Chris Christie video.

    Here’s a conservative with real common sense substance. He’s fat and white and male, not pretty and youthful and female. And yet he has it ALL over Sara Palin. Caught a few minutes of Palin last night with Larry King, and more than ever, there is just NOTHING to her. Her entire act if a substance-free schtick based on the notion that Obama is wrong about everything, and everything bad is his fault. Christie OTOH is speaking plain truth we need to hear.

    FWIW, I think all states should have open primaries. Unconvinced of the merits of a top 2 run-off at the final stage though.

  • Nicholas R. Goebel

    I think that although the Top Two Primary Reform is far from perfect, it is at least a step in the right direction. Thank you to Donklephant for revealing that this reform is not perfect.

    My take on how it could be improved with instant runoff:

  • the Word

    We wanted to have the politicians be public servants and not party servants.

    Schwarzenegger or his speechwriter just trumped everyone in the party. If only it were true.

  • Nancy Hanks

    the Word — lol! yes indeed and it will take a lot more work to make it true!

    kranky – i’ll put up an open thread tomorrow if justin doesn’t… good idea!

  • Justin Gardner

    Nancy, go for it! I think open threads would be a good way to get some more conversations going.

  • the Word

    I’m reminded of what John Anderson a man with intellect and character (a Republican from a long way back) He was asked if he felt like a spoiler in 1980. His response, “What’s to spoil?”

  • Nancy Hanks


  • Bill Gish

    I live in Louisiana where we had an open primary system for many years. I loved it. In races for lesser offices it minimizes the undue influence of the parties. For major races everyone knows who the main party candidates are and there is very little difference from the two horse races you have everywhere else.

    An added benefit is that it injects a little more democracy in states where on party is overwhelmingly dominant. You don’t just have a coronation by the party bigwigs.

  • jjray

    If I understand the open primary concept correctly, a voter does not have to be registered with a particular party to vote in that party’s primary. That’s a problem when there is a uncontested primary in one party. Why? It frees voters from the uncontested primary to cross over and vote in an opposing primary for the weaker candidate. Witness the fiasco in democratic senatorial primary in SC. I’m not a huge fan of political parties but open primaries seem to open up potential abuse for political operatives.

  • Nancy Hanks

    jjray — in the case of Prop 14 in California, it’s a “top two” primary where all the candidates are on the same ballot and all the voters, regardless of party, can vote for whomever they want. The top two vote-getters then go to a run-off election. Candidates are allowed to put their party affiliation if they want. This is similar to a nonpartisan race, but there is a run-off of the top two instead of the candidate with the most votes automatically gaining office.

    There are many ways to structure elections. The independents who were backing Prop 14 were concerned about the exclusion of 20% of the electorate. This adds up nationally — 40 % of the American electorate chooses not to affiliate with parties. That figure would no doubt be higher if all states had open primaries because a lot of people register into a party in order to be able to vote in the decisive round of voting, which in many states and municipalities like NYC is the primary. There is a 5-1 ratio of Dem registered voters in NYC, so it is indeed a one-party town where the Dem bigwigs have coronations for City Council, as Bill Gish notes above. Because NY has fusion voting, where candidates are allowed to run on more than one ballot line, the NYC Independence Party has been the margin of victory in the past 3 mayoral elections. The NYC IP supports nonpartisan elections.