California’s primary system was initiated to curb the well-established partisanship in state politics. Following the 2012 elections, the first under the new primary, the state’s strong Democratic lean resulted in a super majority in the state Legislature for Democrats.
Consequently, Republicans will need to rethink how to be competitive in a state with a voting population that is 45 percent Democratic and 20 percent No Party Preference. Yet, the current civil war plaguing the party may significantly lower chances of a successful Republican rebirth.
So, where does this leave voters?
In California’s 4th Congressional District, voters are faced with such an intra-party showdown. Incumbent Tom McClintock (R) will take on Art Moore (R) in November’s general election. While McClintock remains a tea party favorite, his challenger has portrayed himself as a moderate alternative for voters.
Voters in CA-4 are now able to distinguish between degrees of conservatism in addition to truly focusing on each candidate's merits.
Although McClintock earned more than half of the primary votes, Moore, a military veteran, remains hopeful since he appeals to voters outside of his own political party.
Voters in District 4 are faced with a unique opportunity this fall. Unlike in 2012 election, the primarily Republican district will not have a landslide victory in favor of the incumbent simply because of the R next to his name.
Instead, voters are now able to distinguish between degrees of conservatism in addition to truly focusing on each candidate’s merits.
In the new California primary system, the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of partisanship, and thus calls for moderate candidates or candidates who appeal to a larger variety of voters. Thus, with Jeffrey Gerlach (NPP) pushed out of the general election, almost 21.6 percent of voters are left to choose between the more ideologically-focused McClintock or the more moderate Moore.
This could force McClintock to change his strategy in reaching voters on a wider level.
Although McClintock’s campaign is skeptical of a real challenge to the seat, they have gone on record, commenting on Moore’s advance into the general election with, “Moore is Less.” Moore’s campaign remains hopeful as many of these Northern California voters express their discontent with McClintock’s track record.