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Republican U.S. House Members From Top-Two States Vote Similarly to Other Republicans in Key Vote on Hurricane Relief

Published on January 16, 2013, by in General.

The most powerful backers of the top-two system in California consistently argued that if California passed the top-two voter measure in June 2010, the type of Republicans elected would change, from “extremists” to “moderates.” These backers included the Chamber of Commerce, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, and almost all of the state’s largest newspapers.

On the evening of January 15, the U.S. House voted on whether to increase the Hurricane Sandy relief fund from $17 billion to $50 billion. The Senate had already passed the $50 billion figure, which included $20 billion to repair bridges and roads, $4 for the Army Corps of Engineers, and $6.5 billion for the disaster relief fund. The roll call vote on increasing the bill to $50 billion passed narrowly, with virtual unanimous Democratic support, and the votes of some Republicans. Among the Republicans in the House, the vote on this amendment, the Freylinghuysen amendment, was 38 “yes”; 190 “no”; and 4 not voting.

Among the 24 Republicans in the House from top-two states, the vote was 4 “yes”; 19 “no”; and one not voting. For the entire roll call, see here. The ratio of “yes” votes to “no” votes for Republicans from the top-two states was virtually identical to the ratio of “yes” and “no” votes for all Republicans in the House.

Nothing in this blog post should be taken as expressing any opinion on whether the Freylinghuysen is good public policy or bad public policy. Nor should anything in this blog post be taken to indicate agreement with the terms “extremist” or “moderate” as applied to members of Congress. The purpose of this post is to rebut the idea, pushed by so many influential Californians in 2010, that the top-two system was a magic device to change the behavior of California’s politicians. Only one of the fifteen California Republican U.S. House members, Jeff Denham, voted for the Freylinghuysen amendment.

17 Responses

  1. Jim Riley

    Opponents of Top 2 have latched onto the notion that its purpose was to produce more “moderate” representatives. If it doesn’t, then there is no reason not to go back to the old system.

    But the simple purpose of Top 2 is so that all voter may choose their representatives. For a while, opponents latched onto a claim that unaffiliated voters in California could choose a primary – if the party let them. But this did not let them vote for any candidate. Opponents of Top 2 have apparently recognized how disingenuous this claim and have not been using it lately.

  2. Demo Rep

    ALL single member district systems are AUTOMATIC minority rule systems.

    A plurality (or even a CA majority) in a bare majority of the rigged gerrymander districts = about 1/4 CONTROL.

    Save Democracy — via P.R.

    Party Seats = Party Votes x Total Seats / Total Votes

    Difficult only for math moron lawyers and judges.

  3. Richard Winger

    #1, before top-two passed in California, all voters did choose their members of Congress. They did it on federal election day, November of even-numbered years. Any voter could vote for anyone he or she pleased.

    Thanks to California’s top-two, that freedom is gone. No more write-in space on the ballot in November. Also, many districts had candidates from only one of the two major parties on the November ballot. I lost my vote in November 2012 for both US Senate and US House, so, like hundreds of thousands of other Californians who went to the polls, I left my ballot blank.

  4. Demo Rep

    # 3 See 14th Amdt, Sec. 2 in the nearly dead U.S.A. gerrymander Const.

  5. Jim Riley

    #3 In 2004, 370,000 more votes were cast for President than for Senator. In 2012, the difference was 460,000.

    In 2004, roughly 460,000 voters voted for an also-ran senate candidate.

    In the opinion for ‘Terry v Adams’ there is a recitation of testimony in the case. How is that different from the partisan primary system that you favor? It isn’t. Under the partisan primary system groups choose their nominees in such a way that it does not matter whether voters vote in November when they are supposedly making the choice.

  6. Richard Winger

    #6, wait until the Secretary of State of California releases the “Supplement to the Statement of Vote.” That will show what the dropoff was in each US House district, between President and US House. That will be much more severe than the dropoff for US Senate.

  7. Be Rational

    The purpose of “top-two” is not, and never was, to elect moderates to office – that was a ruse. The purpose was to end voter choice in elections immediately and to eventually end free elections in America. So, you can say that “top-two” is working: The life of Riley leads to the end of liberty in America.

  8. Andy

    “But the simple purpose of Top 2 is so that all voter may choose their representatives”

    All voters could chose their representatives under the old system. It was called the general election.

    The purpose of primaries was never for all voters to be able to influence who the nominees are from each party, but rather for each party to select who among their candidates for the nomination goes on to represent their party in the general election.

    This notion that every voter should get to influence every party’s primary is pure nonsense.

  9. Casual Bystander

    The old Soviet system of “Top One” worked just great.

  10. How can a new system be analysed after one voting cycle. It will take a number of cycles before the voters understand their opportunity to change the makeup of their state legislature and congress.

  11. Richard Winger

    #10, the Washington state top-two system has been used in 3 elections now, and the Louisiana top-two system for state office has been in effect starting in 1975. Your comment reminds of me of apologists for the Soviet Union in the 1930’s…yes, it has its flaws now, but that’s because the system will work better after we have improved human nature.

  12. #11-I have been looking at the blanket primary and agree with you, it is a better process. I want the best process that lets all the voters to take part in the primary process. A closed primary state like NY needs to be changed.

    Any system will not work if the electorate does not take an active part in the process. The voter should pick their candidates, not the party picking their voters.

  13. Demo Rep

    3 SPACES BETWEEN DATA COLUMNS FOR SPREADSHEET.
    *******
    2013-2014 CA U.S.A. REPS. – 2 YEAR TERM
    53 PACK/CRACK GERRYMANDER DISTRICTS – CONCENTRATION CAMPS

    VOTES PCT
    3,441,631 *26.1 27 LOW D* WIN
    2,291,233 17.4 + 11 HIGH D WIN
    5,732,864 *43.4 = 38 D WIN
    2,115,232 16.0 + 15 R WIN
    7,848,096 59.4 = 53 WIN
    4,356,261 33.0 + 53 LOSERS
    12,204,357 92.4 = ‘SUBTOTAL
    997,801 7.6 + NONVOTES
    13,202,158 100.0 = ‘TOTAL VOTERS
    *******
    2013-2014 CA ASSEMBLY – 2 YEAR TERM
    80 PACK/CRACK GERRYMANDER DISTRICTS – CONCENTRATION CAMPS

    VOTES PCT
    3,235,771 *24.5 41 LOW D* WIN
    1,783,515 13.5 + 14 HIGH D WIN
    5,019,286 *38.0 = 55 D WIN
    2,333,674 17.7 + 25 R WIN
    7,352,960 55.7 = 80 WIN
    4,340,099 32.9 + 78 LOSERS
    11,693,059 88.6 = ‘SUBTOTAL
    1,509,099 11.4 + NONVOTES
    13,202,158 100.0 = ‘TOTAL VOTERS

    * ANTI-DEMOCRACY MINORITY RULE PERCENTAGES

    DATA – CA STATEMENT OF VOTE – 2012 ELECTION
    http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/2012-general/

    As noted in # 6 above, the NONVOTES will be much higher than the average in the gerrymander districts NOT having 1 D and 1 R.

    P.R. — # 2

  14. Jim Riley

    #6 In 2004, the Supplement did not show the undervotes for US Representative. But it is possible to compare the number of votes cast for US Representative with the number of votes cast for President in each congressional district.

    So far (through 6 CDs) it appears that the Presidential to Representative drop off is greater in districts where there were more minor party congressional candidates.

    If this is causal, then the presence of more than two congressional candidates results in more voters skipping the races completely. That is, having only two candidates on the ballot clarifies thinking and reduces voter confusion.

    A more plausible explanation may be that the presence of minor party candidates on the ballot indicates something about the district.

    But in general, so far it simply appears that more voters skip US Representative races than they do Senate or President, and that this is not due to the primary system used.

  15. Jim Riley

    #8 “The purpose of primaries was never for all voters to be able to influence who the nominees are from each party, but rather for each party to select who among their candidates for the nomination goes on to represent their party in the general election.”

    Andy, you are simply repeating dogma. I am sure you can make a better argument than simply repeating some dictionary definition of what a “primary election” is.

    “primary” means first. A primary election is a first election in a multi-stage electoral process. Under a Top 2 system the primary is where all candidates are on the ballot, and all voters determine which two advance to the general election.

  16. Demo Rep

    There appears to be NO FED law requiring the robot party hacks in the States to report Under/Over Voting — i.e. the total actual voters in each Rep area / State.

    Complain to your U.S.A. Rep and Senators.

  17. Demo Rep

    # 15 ANY comment about the EVIL ANTI-Democracy minority rule math in lucky # 13 above ???

    NONSTOP minority rule gerrymander math in the U.S.A. since 4 July 1776

    — regardless of the SUPER math morons in SCOTUS and ALL prof math morons in all law schools and all poli sci depts — with their EVIL useless articles, reports, etc.

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