Wednesday, August 20, 2008
  Got really interesting

I've been watching the new Top-Two primary here in Wash State. Figured it would give interesting results, and it came through. On the 'big' offices, Gov, Treasurer, Congress, etc, the general ballot will look pretty much as before, with R running against D. But at the state legislature level, there's far more variety. About 20% of the seats will have either D vs D or R vs R on the fall ballot. And a half dozen of the races will have a minor party as one of the two choices. This will elevate the minor parties into a significance they couldn't have reached before, in a way that's not immediately obvious.

Consider: the usual general election ballot looks like this.....

O Morgan J. Richboy [Republican]
O Stan Szwarczkowski [Democrat]
O Rainbowchild Riverwind [Green]
O Mary Jane Blunt [Libertarian]

The average voter is accustomed to looking at the first two and skipping the rest.

But now the general ballot in some districts will look like this:

O Morgan J. Richboy [Republican]
O Mary Jane Blunt [Libertarian]

The minor party will be one of the two available choices. Thus, if your only motivation is to vote against the R, you'll have to vote for the L.

Must admit I didn't realize this possibility in advance, and it appears that the Libertarian party didn't anticipate it either, since they had joined the big parties in trying to overturn the new format. It will certainly help them!

= = = = =

Addendum after more thinking: Under the usual system, access to the general ballot depends in theory on winning primaries in each party. In practice the primary process involves only the two major parties, so the minors get "tacked on" after the primary process. This insures that the minors are always present on the ballot, even if they are part of a 12-line clutter. Under the new system, the minors don't automatically get onto the ballot, so I guess I can understand why Libertarians were fighting it. But the new system actually does a better service for the minors. A small-party candidate with a real chance of winning will be on the ballot, and he will be there in a way that gives him an even better chance of winning.

In other words, the usual system gives small parties a better chance to accumulate percentages. The new system gives small parties a better chance of actually taking an office.
 


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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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