Open primaries (and redistricting reform) reduce polarization

Here’s an easy, simple fact that shows fair districts and open primaries lead to more moderation:

After the 2000 election, conducted as an open primary in community-oriented districts drawn by the courts in 1991, the “Bi-Partisan Group” in Sacramento (led by then-Assemblymembers Keith Richmann and Joe Canciamilla) had 27 members.

After open primaries were eliminated by the courts and the 2001 bipartisan gerrymander was drawn by the legislature, the bipartisan caucus collapsed from 27 members down to two.

No election happened in the interim:  25 Legislators simply changed their behavior to match the requirements of the system they faced in their upcoming 2002 elections. They belonged to the bipartisan group when they ran in the court-drawn, community-oriented redistricting plan of the 1990s and under the open primary system used in California in 2000. They left the group when they faced re-election in closed primaries and a bipartisan gerrymander.

Their change away from bipartisanship and toward partisan extremism was directly attributable to the two election system changes.

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