UC Berkeley Event – California’s Top Two Primary: Will It Make a Difference?

Christian Grose of the University of Southern California presented findings on the role of California’s top-two primary in moderation by state legislators at the event “California’s Top Two Primary: Will It Make a Difference?” The event was hosted by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley on Friday, April 25, 2014, and included participants and attendees from academia, the political and policy world, and the media. Grose’s paper (co-authored with Andrew Sinclair) is an extension of the Schwarzenegger Institute report released in February 2014. Grose’s research paper examined whether California state legislators were less extreme following the use of California’s top-two primary. Grose presented analyses and original data showing that both the California Assembly and California Senate were more moderate after the adoption of the top-two primary and the implementation of the independent redistricting commission’s map. In addition, the paper suggested that senators who ran in 2012 under the top-two system are more moderate than senators who are not up for reelection until 2014. Other panelists examined whether voter and campaign behavior changed following the top-two primary, and found less of an impact, and a number of panelists cited the February Schwarzenegger report when discussing their own findings.

Academics participating in the event’s first panel included David Brady of Stanford, Jack Citrin and Doug Ahler of the University of California, Berkeley; Thad Kousser of the University of California, San Diego; Eric McGhee of the Public Policy Institute of California, Andy Sinclair of the University of Southern California, and Betsy Sinclair of Washington University (St. Louis).

A second panel of practitioners, journalists, and pollsters convened to discuss how candidates, consultants, and political parties have fared under the new top-two primary system in California. Discussion of the role the primary rules are playing out in state legislative and congressional races were considered, as were discussions of changes to candidate strategies given the new rules. Participants on this panel were Ruben Barrales (CEO, GROW Elect), Julie Griffiths (Partner, GOCO Consulting), Katie Merrill (President, Merrill Strategies), and Ben Tulchin (President, Tulchin Research). Carla Marinucci, Senior Political Reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle , moderated the discussion.

Link to the event web site at IGS at Berkeley: http://igs.berkeley.edu/events/californias-top-two-primary

Some coverage of the event at CalBuzz.com: http://www.calbuzz.com/2014/04/top-two-may-moderate-dems-but-not-reeps/