by Irene Kao, CDT Strategist


We Voted! ¡Nosotros Votamos!

More voters turned out for the 2018 California primary election than expected — nearly 7 million, 37% — and more than any other midterm election in the state (June 2014 = 25.2%, June 2010 = 33.3%).

In Orange County, turnout was 42.5%, compared to 30.1% in 2010. And in the gubernatorial primary, among candidates who finished in the top 10, the Republican candidates received 303,774 votes and the Democratic candidates 303,807 votes.


Top Two Primary Analysis

Each election cycle provides new opportunities to analyze the state’s top two primary system (where the top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election, regardless of party). With the 2018 primary election, it’s clear that candidate campaigns, voters and corporate donors are gaming the top two system to get the general election slates they wanted to see.

“According to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll: ‘[S]ome Californians are adapting their behavior in response to the state’s relatively new top-two primary, where the pair of candidates who get the most votes move on to the general election regardless of party.

Three out of 10 Californians who voted for Cox said they did so primarily because they wanted to ensure a Republican was on the November ballot, as opposed to supporting him because he reflected their beliefs and values, or some other reason, the survey found.

‘Voters are learning how to strategically game the system,” said Bob Shrum, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. “I think we’re going to see more of this in California.’”

Members of the Democratic and Republican parties support AND spite the top two system, but one thing is clear — the system forces more spending in races and, thus, makes candidates more vulnerable to the support and influence of corporate donors.


Sanctuary State Stands

The state of California prevailed in the first round of the federal administration’s challenge to our sanctuary state policies. A federal judge ruled against halting the policies, with the exception that the state cannot prevent the state from requiring private employers to deny federal immigration authorities access to nonpublic areas of a worksite or employee records without a warrant under an Assembly bill. Analysts believe this initial ruling indicates a strong likelihood that California will be successful in defending the sanctuary state policies from the federal lawsuit.