Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com
Robert Robb makes a logically consistent, persuasive, and correct argument (sort of) in favor of the 2016 Top Two Primary initiative in Arizona:
The principal objective of the top-two primary initiative shouldn’t be sugarcoated.
It isn’t to increase voter turnout or eliminate discriminatory barriers to independent candidates. Those might be desired byproducts. But they are not the main event.
The principal objective, the main event, is to reduce the influence of conservative Republicans in state government and politics. Those who don’t like the outcomes of Arizona elections want to change those outcomes by changing the rules.
It’s really about reducing conservative power
Plainly stating the principal objective shouldn’t settle the argument, even for conservative Republicans. For there is something else that should be plainly stated: The current system of partisan primaries doesn’t fit today’s political demography in Arizona.
Under the current system, state law establishes conditions for having a political party recognized. Taxpayers pay for recognized parties to hold primary elections to select their general election candidates. Parties get other advantages, such as preferential access to the voter roll.
Robb is correct that claims of Top Two increasing turnout or helping “independent” candidates get elected are howlers to people who pay anything resembling close attention to Arizona elections but possibly plausible to those who don’t, hence such claims being at the forefront of selling the initiative to the general public and certain gullible pundits.
And Robb is on point with his assertion that the traditional primary system does not reflect current registration figures (a third of the state’s voters are not officially affiliated with any party) and the case he makes for removing taxpayer funding of partisan primaries is a solid one. It is objectively the best argument for changing to an open primary system.
So far, so good, but here’s where even Robb, who has thus far evaluated the initiative in the most clear-headed manner of anyone in the news media, gets it wrong: Continue reading