A new poll by FM3 Research shows that with five Democrats and three Republicans competing in the top-two primary for California’s 49th District, Democrats are within the margin of error for not qualifying for the general election at all, despite favorable generic ballot polling and President Donald J. Trump’s severe unpopularity in the district.
As stated in FM3’s conclusion: "The field of candidates as currently composed could likely prevent a Democrat from advancing to the general election, and this risk of [a] Democrat [not] making the general election intensifies if the field narrows to three Democrats and two Republicans."
The research firm determined this by polling voter’s first and second choices among the Democratic and Republican field, and by doing so, functionally simulating a ranked ballot.
Given that support for all Democrats combined and for the Democratic party generally hovers between 48 percent and 51 percent depending on how many voters are pushed out of the ‘haven’t decided’ category, both a Democrat and Republican would be certain to qualify if the top two system used Ranked Choice Voting to determine who advanced to the final round, and the Democrat would be the favorite to win outright under a more traditional instant runoff.
FairVote will address the top system more broadly in an upcoming series of blog posts. For more information on ranked choice voting, and FairVote’s proposals for addressing the problem of non-competitive elections in Congress, click here.