It is now quite possible that the political landscape in California, the single largest state in the Union and home to about 12% of the country's population, could undergo a transformation that would drastically change the ideological balance.
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And it all comes down to political science. Like most other states, each party in California now holds its own primary to select a standard-bearer for the general election. (The parties are allowed to exclude registered independents.) Democrats always allow the indies in, while Republicans will often keep it closed. Left-wingers often win Dem primaries, and right-wingers win for the GOP.
But in exchange for his vote to pass the budget, moderate Republican state Senator Abel Maldonado demanded and received a provision setting a 2010 referendum to switch to something else called "Top Two," used in Louisiana and Washington state. All candidates run on the same primary ballot, and the top two candidates, regardless of party, advance to a runoff.
So in deep-blue districts there would be two Democrats, and deep-red districts would produce two Republicans. The relatively moderate candidates would then have the edge in those districts, which Maldonado says is needed to improve the legislative process. (In an interesting twist, the office of governor is exempted.)
A previous referendum on this proposal was held in 2004, but it failed 46%-54%. The Dems didn't even remotely want it this time -- Maldonado forced it in exchange for his budget vote.