Three things to think about this March 16th
It's every employee's favorite Thursday and Friday — the start of the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments. Now that everyone's finished researching their brackets and picking their Final Fours... how about Three Things on a different kind of research — of electoral reform, not Cinderella stories — to send you into the weekend?
When it comes to airtime, the most partisan voices are the ones that permeate the news cycle most. Don’t just take it from us, either — there is data to back it up. A new study identified the seven most “hyper-partisan” members of Congress and the seven most bipartisan members based on their promotion of bipartisanship and work across the aisle in 2021 and 2022. After analyzing the group for two months, the researchers from George Mason University and the nonprofit Starts With US found that the seven most partisan politicians reaped more than four times the coverage of their least-partisan colleagues! As reported by The Hill, “the most partisan member of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene, generated nearly 10 times as much press coverage in the 2022 election cycle as the least partisan member, Don Bacon.”
While this data is disheartening, it doesn’t come as a surprise. As our executive director, Nick Troiano, noted in a recent Tweet, ”Partisan primaries elect them. Partisan media amplify them. Then we wonder why we're so divided.”
Check out Troiano’s recent interview with MSNBC, where he discusses how the Primary Problem contributes to explosive sound bites from hyper-partisan members of Congress.
The McKinley Research Group released a report breaking down polling about how the “Alaska Model” fared during the 2022 election. The report compiled findings demonstrating that ranked choice voting was well received across several factors, from race, to gender, to geographic location — the latter a particularly interesting finding, given the unique challenges of implementing a new reform in a state with so many remote voting precincts. (If they can do it there…)
The results from this analysis provide evidence that “voters feel they have more choice — i.e., better candidates to choose from — than in previous elections… and the new system increases voter-perceived power.” In other words, the findings from the report illustrate that Alaska’s innovative election reform did precisely what it intended — it gave voters more representative choices, a more meaningful say, and yielded more bipartisan campaigns.
Notably, this report found that among Republicans, 70% thought ranked choice voting was simple, nearly 50% thought candidate quality was about the same or better than in past years, and 63% thought their voter power was about the same or better than in previous years. They’re numbers that make a powerful case for the Alaska Model’s efficacy and continued use — not just there, but in other states where voters are considering it, such as Nevada.
You might recall that Bipartisan Policy Center report from last week about primary election turnout; it’s getting more national pickup this week. Sinclair News communicated some of its key findings to local news affiliates across the country:
The report also calls for reforming how states conduct their primaries so that more voters can participate.
"In Pennsylvania, you had a very competitive Republican Senate primary, a Democratic Senate primary and a highly competitive Republican governor primary. Pennsylvania currently doesn't allow independents to participate in any of those," [co-author Michael] Thorning explained. "What that means is that about a million voters in that state didn't have any way to weigh in on who the candidates would be in November during the general election.”