Voters often face difficult choices in primary elections in the United States. Typically, primaries are intra-party affairs; partisan voters choose from lists of candidates of the same party. However, in recent years states like California and Washington have used different, more open, primary procedures, including blanket and top-two primaries. In these more open systems, voters pick from a range of candidates from all parties, regardless of the voter's own partisan registration or affiliation. These open systems allow voters to engage in different types of sophisticated voting behaviors, as in these more open primaries they can cross party lines to support candidates of different parties. In this talk, we examine survey data from California's recent experience with the top-two primary to determine how much sophisticated voting behavior may exist, and study the implications of that sophisticated voting behavior on election outcomes.
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