A few days ago, Morrison Institute's senior research fellow, David Berman -- in an op-ed published by the Arizona Republic -- offered his prospective view of what we can expect if the TOP TWO political primary system is adopted by voters in our state in November. (The actual proposal is found on the Arizona Secretary of State's website, labeled C-03-2012)
Proponents of the measure say this:
This measure will allow all Arizonans, regardless of party affiliation, to vote in a single open primary for the candidates of their choice. The two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary will compete in the general election. There will be a level playing field for all voters and candidates, and the current system of taxpayer-funded partisan primaries will be abolished. This reform will promote open government and encourage the election of candidates who will work together for the good of the state.Arizona has been on the leading edge of some recent trends (experiments, perhaps) to change how public policy is established (i.e. independent redistricting, Clean Elections, etc.). However, we can learn from the history and experience of other states on this one before taking the plunge and committing to another experiment.
Berman's analysis partly echoed the hopes of proponents, stating:
Because party primaries traditionally have been low-turnout affairs, the few partisan voters who do show up tend to be from the opposite ends of the ideological scale -- far to the right in Republican primaries and far to the left in Democratic primaries. Moderates from both parties often fail to survive the primary, so much so that few even try.
Instead, nominees tend to be more ideological than voters who generally identify with either of the major parties.
Supporters of the top-two vote-getter proposal argue that the election system should be reshaped to encourage a level of greater moderation, if not participation. Otherwise, the proposal's proponents say, the current system's end result -- certainly as shown in the state Legislature -- is somewhat predictable: ideological extremism.
That could be why, the initiative's backers say, lawmakers produce policies and budgets that conflict with the views of a majority of Arizonans. (emphasis mine)