Q&A: CA’s Top-Two Election System

June 1, 2022

The Rose Institute published today the first in a series of Questions and Answers about politics.  This first offering is on California’s top-two election system, written by  J. Andrew Sinclair, an assistant professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and a faculty advisor of the Rose Institute.  This report is a culmination of years of research by Professor Sinclair, with help from Rose Institute research assistants Catherine Murphy’24, Bryn MIller’19, and Ian O’Grady’15.


In 2010, California voters, frustrated with gridlock and dysfunction in state and national politics, passed Proposition 14.  This measure, implemented in 2012, adopted a top-two system for elections for the state legislature, U.S. Congress, and most statewide offices.  These elections use simple rules: any voter can vote for any candidate in the primary and the two candidates with the most votes advance to the general election. 

Despite a decade of experience and the simplicity of the election rules, journalists, policymakers, scholars, and interested citizens still have many questions about what the top-two system does and how it has affected the state’s politics. This inaugural edition of the Rose Institute’s Questions and Answers series addresses these issues.   [READ MORE]

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