FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CALIFORNIA’S ‘TOP TWO’ PRIMARY FAILS TO ATTRACT MORE MODERATE CANDIDATES, NEW DATA SHOWS
– Nearly half of Congressional challengers are more extreme than incumbents
– California Democrats and Republicans are more liberal than the national average
– Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General contests are most polarized statewide race
Los Angeles, California – June 2, 2014. Reformers’ hopes that California’s “top two” primary system would attract more moderates have suffered a setback, according to new research from Crowdpac, a new non-partisan political technology startup that calculates objective scores for candidates based on campaign finance records. Analysis of the ideological positions of candidates running for office in the California primaries tomorrow shows that nearly half the candidates who are challenging incumbents in Congress are more extreme than the incumbents they are seeking to replace, and over half the candidates for the State Assembly and Senate are more extreme than their respective incumbents.
The data analysis from Crowdpac shows that:
- in 47% of California Congressional races, the challengers are more extreme than the incumbent;
- in the majority of State Senate races, the challengers are more extreme than the incumbent; and
- in 53% of State Assembly races where incumbents face a challenger, the challenger is more extreme than the incumbent.
Overall, California Democrats are typically more liberal than the national average.
On a liberal/conservative scale, ranging from 10L as the most liberal to 10C as the most conservative, the average Democrat running in California has a 6.3L Crowdpac score, which is a half point more liberal than the average Democratic member of Congress.
And California Republicans are also more liberal than the national average for their party.
The average Republican running in California has a 6.5C Crowdpac score, which is also a half point more liberal than the average Republican member of Congress.
Of the statewide races being contested on Tuesday, the battle to challenge incumbent Democrats Gavin Newsom and Kamala Harris for the offices of Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, respectively, are the most polarized.
The gap between the incumbent and the most moderate challenger is 14.9 points in the Lieutenant Governor race, and 14.8 points in the Attorney General race, more than in any other statewide contest.
The average Republican score in the Attorney General race is 8.5C, more conservative than in any other statewide race.
Kamala Harris herself, at 7.7L, is more liberal than any other statewide incumbent.
Out of 331 California candidates who have reported enough donations for Crowdpac to calculate a score:
- five Democrats receive a “conservative” score, including David Kanuth in the high-profile race for Congressional District 33 (Kanuth is scored as 0.8C) and
- five Republicans receive a “liberal” score, including Navraj Singh in the race for Congressional District 25, who is scored as 0.12L.
Other data from Crowdpac’s analysis of the California primaries show that:
- the average Independent candidate for a federal race is 2.3L;
- the average Libertarian is 10C; and
- the most extreme race is for Congressional District 7 in Eastern Sacramento County, which has most extreme challengers, with an average score of 7.7C.
Crowdpac aims to make it easier for people to engage effectively in the political process by providing citizens with objective, non-partisan information about political candidates and issues. Crowdpac is testing its products and features during the 2014 primary season before its full launch prior to the November midterm elections. At that time, users of Crowdpac will be able to browse data on candidates in all 50 states and donate directly to their campaigns.
To calculate scores for candidates – both incumbents and new candidates – Crowdpac relies on campaign finance records. Donors to political campaigns tend to support candidates who share their policy preferences and/or personal interests, and screen out those who do not. This generates large amounts of information on where candidates stand. In analyzing the patterns of who gives to whom, the Crowdpac data model is able to make inferences about the issue positions of both candidates and donors. Additional information on candidates’ personal contributions made to other campaigns are incorporated to improve the model’s predictions. As a result, it represents a new way of forecasting how a candidate would likely vote and legislate if elected to office.