You’ve heard of ‘top-two’ and even ‘top-four.’ Now Nevada may get a top-five primary

You’ve heard of ‘top-two’ and even ‘top-four.’ Now Nevada may get a top-five primary

July 22, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

However, because this is a voter-initiated amendment, a win for the “yes” side wouldn’t be the end of the fight at all. The Silver State requires these types of constitutional initiatives to be approved in two successive general elections, so top-five advocates would need to prevail again in 2024 in order to implement the system for the 2026 elections. (Amendments placed on the ballot by the legislature only need to be passed by voters once.)

Nevada, like most states, holds partisan primaries for statewide, legislative, and congressional offices, and it takes just a plurality to win both the nomination and the general election. Under the top-five system, though, all candidates running for these posts would face off in a single primary, regardless of party, and the five candidates with the most votes would move on to a general election that would be decided through instant-runoff voting. In 2020, Alaska voted to adopt a very similar system, though it caps the number of general election candidates at four. (Alaska’s new system, unlike what the Nevada initiative proposes, also institutes ranked-choice voting in general elections for president.)

Top-five advocates have pointed to the number of primaries in the state that have seen the winner take far less than a majority of the vote to make their case that change is needed. Last month, for instance, Army veteran Mark Robertson won the Republican primary to take on Democratic Rep. Dina Titus with just 30% of the vote, while Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo earned 38% to secure the GOP nod to face Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, though results like these are common across the country.

However, while progressives have often been at the forefront of efforts to promote instant-runoff voting, the state’s most prominent Democrats have all come out against the top-five system. Sisolak dismissed the measure earlier this year as “a rushed constitutional change that would make our system more confusing, error-prone and exclusionary,” while Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen are also urging a “no” vote, as is the state AFL-CIO.

Sondra Cosgrove, who heads the main group promoting the top-five, pushed back by pointing out that Nevada Democrats allowed anyone casting a ballot early in the state’s 2020 presidential caucus to rank their preferences, asking, “It was good enough for them then but not now?” Republicans have been quieter about their position on the measure, though the GOP has usually been hostile to efforts like this in other states.


AK-Sen: Alaskans For L.I.S.A. is out with a new commercial taking former state cabinet official Kelly Tshibaka to task for twice violating the state’s fishing license laws, a topic that earned the Republican some unwelcome headlines last year after she launched her intra-party bid against Sen. Lisa Murkowski. The super PAC so far has deployed $2.4 million, which makes it responsible for almost all of the outside spending in this race.

A pair of men, who identify themselves as a commercial fisherman and a sportfishing guide, tell the audience, “Kelly Tshibaka illegally claimed to qualify for a resident fishing license, but she got caught. She was also cited for commercial fishing illegally.” The duo continues, “We take our commercial fishing laws very seriously. She said she didn’t understand the rules, but she’s a Harvard lawyer.” The cast concludes that Tshibaka knew the state’s rules but charge that she “just doesn’t think they apply to her.”

In October, the Alaska Department of Public Safety fined Tshibaka $270 for “commercial fishing without a commercial fishing crew license” following the release of a campaign video that showed her retrieving fish from a net and selling them to a tender boat. Officials declined to charge Tshibaka over a separate 2019 incident in which she obtained a sportfishing license reserved only for those who’ve lived in the state for at least 12 months; Tshibaka, who left Alaska at age 15, had only recently returned from living in Maryland and did not meet those requirements at the time.

UT-Sen: Dan Jones & Associates’ newest survey for the Deseret News and University of Utah shows Republican incumbent Mike Lee edging out conservative independent Evan McMullin 41-36, which is similar to the firm’s earlier findings, following Democrats’ decision to support McMullin at their April convention rather than field their own nominee. This latest poll also shows that unnamed “other” candidates obtain 14% of the vote; two third-party contenders, Independent American Party nominee Tommy Williams and Libertarian Jimmy Hansen, will be on the ballot along with Lee and McMullin, though they’ve attracted little attention.


GA-Gov: Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has publicized numbers from Cygnal that give him a 50-45 lead over Democrat Stacey Abrams in a contest where recent polls have disagreed quite a bit on the state of the race. Quinnipiac University in late June showed a 48-48 tie, but the Democratic firm Data for Progress followed up days later with numbers giving the incumbent a 53-44 edge. An AARP survey from a bipartisan team of pollsters, by contrast, had Kemp up 52-45, which is similar to what the governor’s internal shows now.

Cygnal’s memo, unsurprisingly, argues that Kemp is in a strong position to prevail, but his lead pollster didn’t sound so comfortable in an interview with NBC. “This is going to be a close race,” warned Brent Buchanan, adding, “Georgia is changing. Stacey Abrams has a crap-ton of money.” There’s no disputing that last bit, as Abrams and her allied leadership committee ended June with an $18.5 million to $7 million cash-on-hand edge over Kemp’s side.

Abrams is also making use of that “crap-ton of money” to run a new commercial attacking Kemp for signing “the most extreme abortion law in the nation.” The ad, which began airing a day after a federal court allowed that legislation—which bans most abortions—to go into effect, features various reporters describing how the bill could “put their lives in danger,” “make women criminally liable,” and set off “criminal investigations into miscarriage.” It concludes by warning that Kemp wants to “ban abortion for any reason without exception for rape and incest.”

WI-Gov: NMB Research’s new survey for Sunrise in America, a group supporting self-funding businessman Tim Michels in the Aug. 9 Republican primary, shows their man beating former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch 43-35. The last poll we saw was a month-old survey from Marquette University that put Michels ahead by a considerably smaller 27-26 spread; that earlier poll also gave 10% to Kevin Nicholson, who dropped out a few weeks later.


IA-03: Moore Information Group, surveying on behalf of Republican Zach Nunn and the NRCC, shows Nunn deadlocked 43-43 with Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne. This is the first poll we’ve seen all year of the contest for this seat, a Des Moines-based constituency that would have favored Trump by a tight 49.2-48.8 margin.

MI-11: The local firm Target Insyght, which does not have a client here, finds Haley Stevens beating fellow Rep. Andy Levin by a wide 58-31 margin in their Aug. 2 Democratic primary showdown, which is a huge shift from the 41-41 tie the same outfit showed in early February. The only poll we’ve seen in the intervening time was an early March Levin internal that likewise saw a 36-36 deadlock. In the second quarter, however, Stevens outspent Levin by more than a 2-to-1 margin, $1.96 million to $860,000. Outside groups, led by AIPAC, have also poured it on for Stevens, spending more than $6 million on her behalf while Levin’s allies have only deployed around $750,000.

MO-01: Democratic Rep. Cori Bush opens her new commercial for the Aug. 2 primary by telling the viewer, “At 17, I was raped and became pregnant. That’s the start of my abortion story.” The congresswoman, who first discussed her story publicly last year, continues, “Let me be clear: Forced pregnancy is a crime against humanity. When an extremist court dictates what we can do with our bodies, that’s violence.”

Attorneys General

KS-AG: Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who represented Kansas in the House before joining the Trump administration, has endorsed state Sen. Kellie Warren ahead of the Aug. 2 GOP primary for attorney general. A recent survey for former federal prosecutor Tony Mattivi showed former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach leading Warren 31-16, with Mattivi at 9%.

Ad Roundup

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