In Today's 'Super Tuesday,' There's a Big Wild Card

California's 'top two' voting system could hurt Democrats' hopes of a 'blue wave'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2018 10:45 AM CDT
In Big Primaries, California Voting System Is Key Wild Card
In this file photo, signs direct voters outside the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters in San Jose, Calif.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Voters in eight states vote Tuesday in primaries, and the big focus is on California because it's seen as a gauge of whether Democrats can take control of the House. The party needs to take 23 GOP seats overall, and Tuesday's races in California feature at least seven contenders—seats currently held by Republicans in districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. As the AP notes, no other state has more than three such seats. Things to watch in California and elsewhere:

  • 'Top two' voting: One hard-to-predict factor is that California uses a "top two" system in which the 1-2 finishers for each race—even if they're in the same party—advance to the November general election, reports CNN. That raises the possibility that Democrats in packed races might hurt their party's chances by splitting the vote. On the flip side, Republicans could be shut out of the governor's race in November if Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, both Democrats, finish 1-2. Republican John Cox is his party's best chance to crack the top two.

  • The judge: Aaron Persky faces the prospect of being the first California judge recalled in 86 years, reports NBC News. Persky is the state Superior Court judge who gave Stanford's Brock Turner a six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, triggering a national backlash from critics who saw it as too light.
  • Vulnerable senator: Montana's Jon Tester is seen as one of the most vulnerable Democratic senators, in part because he has frequently drawn the ire of President Trump, and voters will pick the GOP nominee to face him in the general election. Vox takes a closer look at the race, noting that a top GOP contender, Matt Rosendale, is vulnerable himself because he isn't from the state—and has a Maryland accent.
  • The 8 states: Politico sees the voting as the "Super Tuesday of 2018," and notes that polls close at 8pm Eastern in Alabama, Mississippi, and New Jersey; 9pm in New Mexico and South Dakota; 10pm in Iowa and Montana; and 11pm in California.
  • 'Blue wave': The same Politico preview says one key thing to watch is the "size and passion" of the Democratic turnout in California. If Democrats vote in large numbers, that suggests a "blue wave" feared by Republicans could indeed materialize in November.
  • Trump factor in 2 races: The Washington Post calls attention to a pair of races that might test the President Trump factor. In California, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is expected to easily finish No. 1 in her primary, but critics say she's been too tolerant of Trump, which has allowed fierce Trump critic Kevin de Leon, a state senator, to challenge her from the left. How well he does is seen as a key gauge. In Alabama, GOP Rep. Martha Roby faces four challengers who say she has not been supportive enough of the president.
(More primaries stories.)

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