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A stretch of unprecedented events

Three things to think about this February 16th

Alana Persson
Digital Marketing Associate
February 16, 2023

Last week, our nation and world experienced events that were some combination of significant, unprecedented, and catastrophic. In a span of a few days, the U.S. government, in conjunction with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), shot down a Chinese weather balloon and three additional unidentified flying objects. A magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Syria and Turkey, resulting in the loss of more than 40,000 lives and leaving the affected parts of the nations in a humanitarian crisis. And a train derailed and exploded in Ohio, resulting in mass evacuations, a toxic chemical event, and a federal investigation.

All this is a reminder: The world is a challenging, complex, and, at times, unforgiving place, and it compels us all to keep in mind “the bigger picture.”

We’re here this week to continue giving you a picture of the Voters First movement, which is attracting increased attention due to some news of late about opposition to election reforms, particularly ranked choice general elections in Alaska. This may be an old sentiment, but it’s a true one: You can’t hope to shake up the status quo without running into resistance. Our and our partners’ efforts to inform voters of the benefits of reforms such as the Alaska model have worked — more people are liking them, more places are adopting them, and it’s only natural that more people with a vested interest in maintaining their power (at the expense of We, the People) will object.

Keeping that in mind, here are three things to consider this week:

1. McCarthy’s bid for Speaker of the House has come at a cost

We all remember House speaker Kevin McCarthy’s historic 14-ballot bid for the speaker’s gavel, which resulted in a handful of Republican detractors opposing his speakership until their political demands were met.  

A recent article published by The Bulwark noted that the cost of McCarthy’s PAC concession, one of those demands, would likely result in the elevation of far-right candidates in coming elections. As noted, “the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), which calls itself ‘the independent super PAC endorsed by Kevin McCarthy — that’s lawyer-speak for McCarthy’s super PAC — cut a deal to get right-wing support for his speakership bid. Under the deal, CLF agreed it would no longer ‘spend in any open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts.’ Nor will it ‘grant resources to other super PACs to do so.’”

In layman's terms, the PAC won’t invest in open-seat primaries to support broadly appealing Republicans, creating an easier road for more radical candidates. File that away for when you read about the 2024 congressional elections …

2. The “Alaska Model” resulted in greater civility and more competition

According to a recent report by our partner R Street, “A review of initial evidence found that races in the state became more civil and competitive overall, and, despite it being a major change in process, the top-four approach caused little disruption in the composition of the government.”

Further, the outcome of Alaska’s congressional races illustrates how the new election rules can incentivize candidates to appeal not just to voters affiliated with their political party or core constituency, but to voters who may favor another candidate, including those across the aisle.

3. “What Should Republicans Do To Improve Candidate Quality?”

The Center for Campaign Innovation, a center-right nonprofit, crunched some post-election numbers in battleground states that Republicans lost in 2022 and shared this recommendation in a new post:

“When it comes to the challenge of resolving primaries, perhaps the most transparent and equitable solution is a shift to instant runoff voting, where a party’s supporters rank their choices for nominee. This helps nominate a consensus candidate who represents a majority of voters and unifies the party, without the need for party insiders to “clear” primary fields — which reduces grassroots input in candidate selection.”