California's New Political Districts Debut To A Mostly Empty Stage
"California will make history tomorrow. We will see our open primary system and new citizen-drawn districts in action for the first time. There is nothing else like it and I know we are starting yet another national trend."
In spite of the ex-governor and famed actor's encouragement, Californians' turnout to the presidential primaries on Tuesday was shockingly low, with around 24 percent of registered voters (some ballots remain uncounted, it is estimated that the total turnout will rise to 30 percent.) Voting booths were silent and rooms practically empty as those in charge of the voting precincts lamented Californian's blase attitude towards this groundbreaking primary, the first to take place after California's political redistricting. Not to mention that two sweeping and monumental items were on the ballot.
An explanation for the low turn out to what was a much awaited election is not forthcoming; however, a conjecture can be made that maybe voters were blind-sighted by the political jargon and legal terminology regarding this new redistricting. Because of this, maybe an explanation is in order.
For decades, California has had a notoriously entrenched roster of lawmakers in Washington, D.C., a courtesy of the congressionally regimandered district map. However, after the citizen-commission redistricting of California that took place this year, said roster was shaken up considerably. All of a sudden, districts, which had long been Republican, switched and became Democratic strongholds, and viceversa.
When it comes to electing incumbents for California's congressional delegation, the state also has a new system in place, the "Top Two" system. Under it, all candidates will run on the same ballot and the two top vote accruers will proceed to the general election in November regardless of party affiliation. What this means is that two Democrats or two Republicans could be competing for the same seat, something which has never been seen before in the star-studded state.
The reason why this last reform is of particular interest, The Washington Post noted, is because:
"Those races could now be decided by voters from the party that doesn’t have a nominee. So if Reps. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and Howard Berman (D-Calif.) face off in November, as is expected, Republicans in their district will be forced to vote for one of them and could swing the election. (Cue intrigue.)"
The reason why this redistricting and new nominating systems were made was to chisel away at California's rigid political districts which were drawn up to favor certain incumbents (mostly Democrats). As a result of this, California has now become a very competitive state since it is basically, without firm political affiliation.
"With non-partisan redistricting and this new 'top two' primary system, California suddenly becomes very interesting and one of the more competitive states in the entire country," Kyle Kondik, political analyst at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia told Reuters.
As a result, California and its voters will be up on the auction block for candidates from both parties to make their highest bids in order to establish their supremacy in the state.
The Washington Post reported:
"One GOP strategist predicted that, going into the general-election campaign, about $30 million will flow into the state from the National Republican Congressional Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and partisan-aligned super PACs for the contests for the 12 seats that are potentially competitive."
This influx of money would come during a much needed time for California particularly since its economy continues to battle the merciless recession that sunk its claws into the the state almost four and half years ago.