“California’s major political parties feared the top-two primary but emerged as powerful as before”

John Myers for LAT:

Gamesmanship was everywhere. Could a feared opponent be shut out of a spot on the fall ballot? Might a political party’s leaders convince some hopefuls in crowded races to step aside and thus avoid splitting the vote?

In the end — either because of those efforts or in spite of them — the playing field looked very much like a traditional primary. Unofficial returns Tuesday showed that only two statewide races, at most, will end up as a same-party showdown in November. Otherwise, and in the overwhelming majority of California’s races, the two-party system seems to have survived.

The candidates who succeeded were largely staunch defenders of either liberal or conservative principles — moderation was not the big winner in California on election night.

And yet backers of the top-two primary, who in 2010 took a wrecking ball to the idea that spots on the November ballot should be reserved by political party, seemed to envision consensus-building candidates who could bridge the partisan divide.

“This primary would certainly cast some doubt on that idea,” said Eric McGhee, a researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.

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