Republicans For Clinton

The Boston Globe took a look at Republicans voting in Democratic primaries finding that, “For a party that loves to hate the Clintons, Republican voters have cast an awful lot of ballots lately for Senator Hillary Clinton.” While Obama received some votes from Republicans in early primaries who are likely to cross over and vote Democratic in the fall, the Limbaugh Democrats are primarily Republicans who are voting strategically to prolong the Democratic race and attempt to allow John McCain to run against the weaker Democratic candidate. The Boston Globe reports:

Until Texas and Ohio voted on March 4, Obama was receiving far more support than Clinton from GOP voters, many of whom have said in interviews that they were willing to buck their party because they like the Illinois senator. In eight Democratic contests in January and February where detailed exit polling data were available on Republicans, Obama received, on average, about 57 percent of voters who identified themselves as Republicans. Clinton received, on average, a quarter of the Republican votes cast in those races.

But as February gave way to March, the dynamics shifted in both parties’ contests: McCain ran away with the Republican race, and Obama, after posting 10 straight victories following Super Tuesday, was poised to run away with the Democratic race. That is when Republicans swung into action.

Conservative radio giant Rush Limbaugh said on Fox News on Feb. 29 that he was urging conservatives to cross over and vote for Clinton, their bête noire nonpareil, “if they can stomach it.”

“I want our party to win. I want the Democrats to lose,” Limbaugh said. “They’re in the midst of tearing themselves apart right now. It is fascinating to watch. And it’s all going to stop if Hillary loses.”

He added, “I know it’s a difficult thing to do to vote for a Clinton, but it will sustain this soap opera, and it’s something I think we need.”

Limbaugh’s exhortations seemed to work. In Ohio and Texas on March 4, Republicans comprised 9 percent of the Democratic primary electorate, more than twice the average GOP share of the turnout in the earlier contests where exit polling was conducted. Clinton ran about even with Obama among Republicans in both states, a far more favorable showing among GOP voters than in the early races.

These strategic votes may have had an influence in the primary results:

Some political blogs have suggested that the influx of Clinton-voting Republicans prevented Obama from winning delegates he otherwise would have, by inflating Clinton’s totals both statewide and in certain congressional districts. A writer for the liberal blog Daily Kos estimated that Obama could have netted an additional five delegates from Mississippi.

It is also possible, though perhaps unlikely, that enough strategically minded Republicans voted for Clinton in Texas to give her a crucial primary victory there: Clinton received roughly 119,000 GOP votes in Texas, according to exit polls, and she beat Obama by about 101,000 votes.

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