In an attempt to curb the polarization of national politics, several states have adopted the new top two primary system to select their federal representatives and senators. The electoral format permits all voters the opportunity to participate in one primary with all the candidates listed on a single ballot irrespective of party. The two candidates that receive the most votes are the "top two" an... read mored advance to the general election regardless if they are of the same political affiliation. Based on the widening of the nomination process and the potential disregard for party in a general election, reformers believed this system would be more apt in producing elected officials that reflect the moderate ideology of the median constituent voter.
This thesis tests the aforementioned assumption on a number of levels. First, I utilize a quantitative statistical analysis to observe the ideological differences between elected officials and their citizen electorate in areas of top two systems and in areas of non-top two systems. Secondly, I establish four case studies to both examine the effects of the top two primary and conjecture on the reform's hypothetical impact on elections operating under the older primary systems. Lastly, I quantitatively examine the impact of the top two system on voter turnout to measure if the primary format is creating greater voter interest in elections. The study concludes by noting while voter participation increased under the top two system, the reform failed to consistently establish a closer political alignment between citizens and representatives.read less