I’m surprised no one has mentioned Instant Runoff Voting. There is no need for a 2-round runoff when IRV (or ranked choice voting) guarantees a majority winner in one election and eliminates the wasted-vote/spoiler effect. No 3rd party would ever support or benefit from Open Primaries for the reasons that Passionatejus gave. IRV is already used successfully in San Francisco, Australia, Ireland, and adopted in Minneapolis, Oakland, Burlington, VT, among others. It also increases voter turnout since primary elections are notoriously ignored (except by the ideological extremes), as are runoff elections held after the general election.
I agree that the system’s humongous flaw is that turnout in the first round is likely to be very low, and that is what differentiates the American “open primary” from the European style-”two round system” (in French elections, for instance, turnout doesn’t tend to be that different in the two rounds). And I more than acknowledge the system’s problems when implemented in the American context (boosting moderates even in districts that are very liberal or very conservative, low turnout).
In other words, I am not praising the reform, but I do think that it could bring some improvements for third parties in the long-run by changing the political culture that dictates that a vote for a third party is a wasted vote; that will take more than a few years, but building third parties is obviously a long-term goal. As for the turnout issue, my hope would be that, as people get used to the system, they understand that the first round is as important as the runoff. For that to happen, there shouldn’t be a long period between the two rounds: that makes them seem far more linked than the primary and general election do in America.]]>
Tom, I believe in last year’s top-two primary, turnout was lower than usual. Mostly due to the confusion of it being the first one of it’s kind. And because there was less drama. Everybody knew that in most districts that both the Democratic and the Republican candidate would win and then go on to the final round (aka general election).
Third Parties themselves said that the top-two primary hurt them:
I cannot say it better than this:
I really don’t think the open primary will change much, except that the primary becomes a “beauty contest,” or really a large poll. There will be independent redidtricing, but I don’t think that’s going to change things a lot. The problem is that the California politics has become extremely polarized, and that will take a lot more than political reforms to change.]]>
I also don’t like most “reforms” — they typically only make things worse. Propositions and referendums for example (see: Tim Eyman, Bill Sizemore, Prop 187). I use to work for Governor Davis. In my opinion, Californians got what they deserved, in electing a sexual harasser with no previous governmental experience.]]>
You cannot just measure the effectiveness of open primaries by the absence or presence of a third party in the second round. Third parties in the US have typically got less than 5%, they would need a quantum leap in support to get to a second round (probably 30-40%).]]>