Home General U.S. House Republicans Who Supported the "Cliff Deal" Were Most Likely to Come from States with Closed Primaries
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U.S. House Republicans Who Supported the "Cliff Deal" Were Most Likely to Come from States with Closed Primaries

Published on January 2, 2013, by in General.

On January 1, the House of Representatives approved the “Cliff Deal” on Taxes. Among the 200 Republicans who had been re-elected to the House in November 2012, 69 voted “Yes”, 130 voted “No”, and one didn’t vote.

The vote was historically significant, because generally Republicans in the House stick together on important bills, yet in this instance, they split, with slightly more than one-third of the re-elected Republicans voting with the vast majority of Democrats.

When one breaks down the list of Republicans who had been re-elected in November 2012, one finds that Republican members from closed primary states were far more likely to vote for the bill than Republicans from states with more open primaries. Closed primary states had re-elected 48 Republicans to the U.S. House, and 27 of them voted for the bill.

Semi-closed primary states (those in which independents can vote in the party of choice, whereas registered party members must stick to their own party’s primary) produced 28 Republicans who were re-elected, and only 8 of them voted for the bill.

Top-two primary states re-elected 21 Republicans, and only 10 of them voted for the bill.

Open primary states (those in which any voter is free to choose any party’s primary ballot) re-elected 102 Republicans, and only 24 of them voted for the bill.

For those who wish to double-check the calculation in this blog post, here are the types of Republican primary by state for 2014, under current rules: open primaries in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming (Wyoming has registration by party, but any voter is free on primary day to switch parties). Here are the semi-closed Republican primaries, sometimes called semi-open: Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, West Virginia. Here are the top-two states: California, Louisiana, Washington. Here are the closed primary states: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota.

Here is the roll-call tally for Republicans who were re-elected, by state, with the number of “yes” followed by the number of “no” votes for each state. States not mentioned have no Republicans who were re-elected to the House. Alabama 0,6. Alaska 1,0. Arizona 0,3. Arkansas 2,2. California 5,7. Colorado 0,4. Florida 5,9. Georgia 0,8. Idaho 1,1. Illinois 3,2. Indiana 0,4. Iowa 0,2. Kansas 0,4. Kentucky 1,3. Louisiana 1,4. Maryland 0,1. Michigan 5,3. Minnesota 1,2. Mississippi 0,3. Missouri 2,2. Nebraska 1,2. Nevada 1,1. New Jersey 5,1. New Mexico 0,1. New York 4,0. North Carolina 1,4. Ohio 5,5. Oklahoma 2,1. Oregon 1,0. Pennsylvania 11,0. South Carolina 0,5. South Dakota 1,0. Tennessee 0,7. Texas 4,17. Utah 0,2. Virginia 0,8. Washington 4,0. West Virginia 0,2. Wisconsin 2,3. Wyoming 0,1. Total 199 who cast a vote on the bill, which was Roll Call 659.

Republicans who were not re-elected are excluded from this analysis because the purpose of this analysis is to evaluate the argument that top-two and open primaries cause politicians who want to be re-elected to move to the center. Obviously, Republicans who retired or were defeated shouldn’t be included in this analysis because they aren’t worried about being re-elected in 2014.

17 Responses

  1. I always had a problem with the definition of Open or Semi-Open Primary. What is open about having to select one parties ballot? An open primary is where I can select the candidates I like regardless of party. Blanket Primary deserves a new look, but will require some changes that need a through review to satisfy local state election law changes.

  2. David Holtzman

    You seem to like the bill. Why?

  3. #2, I didn’t express any opinion about the bill.

  4. Demo Rep

    1/2 votes x 1/2 pack/crack gerrymander districts = 1/4 de facto CONTROL.

    Used to be MUCH worse from 1788-1962 elections in the gerrymander USA H. Reps. —

    before the 1964 SCOTUS gerrymander cases.

    NOW – high tech gerrymander pack/crack computer programs with INSTANT gerrymanders after census and prior election data (even the past 2 elections) is dumped into a computer.

    i.e. NOW nearing ZERO competitive districts in all States having 2 or more USA Reps.

    i.e. a robot party hack wins a primary – esp. a plurality primary
    — and WILL win the general election in a rigged district.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.
    NO EVIL primaries.

  5. johnO

    Those who want spending cut should now look at Libertarian Party or CP instead.

  6. TruFoe

    Speculation on a causal and demonstrable relationship?

  7. james?

    ive come to believe that the paradox of primaries is that they appear in theory to make politics more democratic but in practice they do the reverse. with little control over its candidate selection a party cannot easily work together to acheive goals. outsside forces can undermine a party from with in and it allows big money more control as you in effect have to fight two election campaigns. the only way i see forward for usa democracy is membership parties where members pick the candidates and independents are free to stand against the parties if they dont like that. the meme that might achieve this is to appeal to the usas anti-state tradition “take the state out of candidate selection” should be the slogan. interestingly i have read commentators before who say that unfair ballot acess laws date back to state funded primarys.

  8. Demo Rep

    The official State primaries got going to end the direct corruption of the robot party hack gang leaders picking candidates by threats and/or bribes in the BAD old days.

    NO primaries are needed.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

  9. David Holtzman

    Without an opinion about the bill,
    why should anyone care about the numbers you present here?

    Perhaps you should refresh readers’ memories about your preferences among types of primaries.

  10. Richard Winger

    #9, because it rebuts the constant claims of Prop. 14 supporters that Prop. 14 will produce “moderates” politicians. Even though all political scientists who have actually studied polarization and primary systems agree that there is no correlation, the California newspapers that supported Prop. 14 constantly say that top-two primaries create more moderate politicians.

  11. David Holtzman

    But that’s not why you opposed Prop. 14 and want it repealed. (Or do *you* really want more moderates?)

    Anyway, it’s far too early to draw any conclusions about the long-term impact of Prop. 14 in California.

    And it’s not necessarily true that a Republican who voted for the cliff bill is a moderate.

    And it’s naive to think that “Republicans who retired or were defeated shouldn’t be included in” an analysis like this “because they aren’t worried about being re-elected in 2014″. Everybody’s always thinking about their next position.

  12. David Holtzman

    Plus, you say “Top-two primary states re-elected 21 Republicans, and only 10 of them voted for the bill.” That’s a higher YES (“moderate”) rate than Rs in general!

  13. Richard Winger

    David, thanks for your comments. I agree with political scientists who have actually studied this, Boris Shor especially, and Seth Masket, and Todd Donovan. They all say the type of primary doesn’t make any difference. They are absolutely right.

    But newspaper columnists and editorial writers don’t pay any attention to the research. It’s mind-boggling. So the data about the January 1 2013 vote in the House is yet more evidence that the newspaper columnists and editorial writers don’t pay any attention to the data. All the Republicans who were re-elected in Louisiana voted against the bill. All the Republicans who were re-elected in Washington state voted for the bill. The California Republicans who were re-elected were more against the bill than for it. So what does that really say? It says the characteristics of these congressmembers are determined by the social attitudes of their state, not by the type of primary that state has.

    And, again, the reason I singled out the Republicans who were re-elected is that these newspaper editorial writers and columnists always say the upcoming primary type determines how these politicians behave and vote. I guess I am just not a good enough writer, if it is so difficult for me to be understood.

  14. c

    indiana does not really have a closed primary because you can say your any party and they will let you vote in that primary.

  15. Richard Winger

    #14, I agree. Indiana is listed above as an open primary state.

  16. Jim Riley

    A more careful analysis will show that region plays a much stronger influence:

    Northeast (including MD): 20-2
    Midwest: 18-23
    Great Plains (ND to OK): 4-7
    South: 10-61
    Texas: 4-17
    Mountain: 2-13
    Pacific: 11-7

    If we compare the South to the Midwest for open primary states:

    Midwest (open): 18-21
    South (open) 2-39

    It is clear that the distinction is regional rather than type of primary.

    What the data illustrates is the anomalously strong support for the deal in Pennsylvania and New York, which happen to have closed primaries.

    In fact, given the support for the bill among the Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan delegations, an argument can be made that Republican gerrymanders are good for the country because they produce more districts where Republicans have a modest advantage and must be cognizant of possible defeat (while Ohio and Michigan were only 10:8, the rest of the Midwest was opposed 8:15).

    We can further extrapolate that choosing presidential electors by congressional district would tend to produce more moderate presidents, as compared to the NPV scheme which is more likely to produce presidents like Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez.

  17. Jim Riley

    #13 “And, again, the reason I singled out the Republicans who were re-elected is that these newspaper editorial writers and columnists always say the upcoming primary type determines how these politicians behave and vote.”

    Can you give evidence that newspaper editorial writers and columnists always say this?

    And even if they always say this, doesn’t it simply illustrate lack of analytical skill by these persons. One would be naive to believe that the future electoral system would have much effect on the behavior of incumbents. Do you think that the Top 2 Open primary had one bit of an effect on Fortney Stark’s voting?

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