Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Crossover Voting For Obama, Blip or Scale Tipper?

I don’t think it is a secret anymore that Texas Republican voters are showing up at the polls to vote in the Democratic primary, and doing so to vote for Barack Obama. A small article in the Houston Chronicle had some anecdotal evidence to back this up.

Bennet Roth, in this Chron article, interviewed individuals in an Austin barbershop, Republicans who claim that they have voted, or will vote for Barack Obama. One thing he did not uncover was a vast Republican conspiracy to stack the deck against Hillary Clinton: there just wasn’t a unity there. Yes, some voters were definitely going out there to vote for Obama in order to, as one pollster put it “get rid of Clinton once and for all.” And some of these voters fully intend to turn around and vote for the Republican candidate in the fall. Yet, on the other hand, the same poll reports that 15% of these voters are disenchanted with the Republican party, or their choices, or both, and will continue on in the Fall to vote for Obama.

The first thing that comes to my mind, though, is the record turnout at the early vote polling sites, and how Democratic early voters outnumber Republican voters by anywhere between 2 and 4 to 1. Is the effect we are seeing a result of mass Republican cross-party voting? I really doubt it. First, look at the trend nationwide. In every state where a primary has already been held, Democrats have outnumbered Republicans at the polls, and this took place long before the Texas primary. Here and now in the Texas primary, the race for the Democratic nomination seems to have developed into Hillary Clinton’s last stand. So if early vote turnout numbers in Texas reflect a special effort by Republicans trying to “get rid of” Hillary, why do these turnout numbers match what we have seen in other states?

The Chron article exposed a fractionated Republican party. There appears to be no single-minded monolithic effort to send Republicans to the polls in droves to vote in the Democratic primary, despite what seems to be the case from an email being circulated last week and this week. This email, in short, would confirm the Clinton campaign’s worst fears, that Republicans are showing up at the polls to “get rid of the Clintons”. From the email:

“Since Texas has on open primary, Republicans and Independents should sign in at their polling place and request a Democratic ballot. They should then vote for Barack Obama. Even James Carville admits that if Hillary loses Texas, "she's done!" Republicans can help make this a reality!!! Just think, no more Clintons in the White House!”
It purports to have come from the website Republicans for Obama, and makes a specific reference to this URL, but nowhere on that URL is the message to be found. Indeed, if you check the website here, you will see reference to the email message, and this enigmatic explanation:

“It is not, nor has it ever been, the goal of this organization to support Barack in order to keep Hillary out of office. You can see the official statements of support for Senator Obama under the "About Us" and "Why Obama" tabs at the top of the page.”

“That said, there are many Republicans who have strong negative feelings toward both the Clintons, and toward Hillary in particular. While posters are free to express their feelings in our forums, those posts should not be considered representative of the membership of RFO as a whole, nor of the RFO leadership team itself.”
So it looks like the Republicans for Obama are disavowing this email, but don’t go as far as to say they don’t know where the email came from.

What this campaign is not, by all indications, is an Obama campaign attempt to torpedo Clinton’s chances in Texas. There is no evidence for it, and to suggest that it is part and parcel of the Obama campaign strategy, as some have suggested, is paranoid in the best of all worlds, and lunatic in the worst.

In the end, all this is going to do is further weaken the Republican Party. Let’s say that the party loses an invariant 15% of its moderate voters in all of their primaries as they vote for Democrats. Any Republican primary contest in Texas, with a moderate and a conservative in the race, will be favored toward the conservative. The resulting candidate pool of the Republican Party then, becomes skewed to the right as the rest of the nation goes left. Making the Republican Party of Texas even more of a national oddity than it already is.

But let’s add to the pile. If their fractious plan comes to fruition, Republicans in Texas will have helped to put Barack Obama over the top in his race, possibly tipping the scales in his favor for the nomination. All this does is put a statistically stronger candidate in as their opposition in November. So much for long-range thinking Republicans. By “getting rid of the Clintons” they will have had played a role in the creation of a Democratic presidency.

What the H-E-Double Hockey Sticks? A win’s a win.

8 comments:

Earl said...

Hal, a word to the wise. I just got a call from the Obama Campaign and I found out that when I Early Voted I received NO documentation that I voted from the poll workers which would ALLOW me to attend the Caucus on March 4 which chooses one-third of the Texas Delegates for President. I have to go back there and either have my Voter Registration Card stamped or get a Certificate--the Access Code slip they gave me won't cut it! The Election workers didn't even mention the Caucus!

Hal said...

So I guess the only thing left is to get the word out on what you need to get into the Democratic Precinct Convention:

You need your stamped voter registration card, OR you need the receipt that they gave you with the access code that you initially entered when you voted with the eSlate.

I had my card stamped, and I kept my receipt for good measure.

This probably needs wider distribution than in the comments section.

Thanks for the tip.

Anonymous said...

Repubs are sick of the corporate domination of their party, but that shouldn't shock anyone in either party since both have sold out.

Anonymous said...

You miss the point - R's ARE voting in D primary's - and not just in Texas. It happened in VA. In NC, R's are changing party affiliation to 'Unaffiliated' specifically to vote in D primary. It is very dangerous to put someone in power that has as much contempt for people as HRC does. R's are resigned to losing the WH this term. Better to take out HRC now - and not risk having her in the WH.

Hal said...

That's what I call the fighting spirit. Resignation to defeat. It's what put the Fort Bend County Democratic Party on the map.

I say, whatever works to get the White House back into the hands of reasonable people.

And to all Republicans everywhere: Keep down the spirit!

Earl said...

The Fort Bend County early voting tally a couple of days ago was 19,199 Democrats to 7,811 Republicans--about 2.5 to 1!

donna darko said...

the record turnout at the early vote polling sites, and how Democratic early voters outnumber Republican voters by anywhere between 2 and 4 to 1. Is the effect we are seeing a result of mass Republican cross-party voting? I really doubt it. every state where a primary has already been held, Democrats have outnumbered Republicans at the polls, and this took place long before the Texas primary. why do these turnout numbers match what we have seen in other states?

I don't follow. The same numbers of crossing over have been happening since Iowa.

The email is from the Republicans for Obama website.

Hal said...

My point Donna, is that the enormous turnout we are seeing here in Texas has been blamed, by some, on crossover votes from Independents in some cases, and Independents and Republicans in others. That may be true, but what I was pointing out is that the same phenomenon is being seen in states where no crossover voting is allowed.

So I am disallowing some or most of these votes as crossover, and laying the blame on Democratic enthusiasm. "November voters" are showing up at the primary because of the extraordinary set of circumstances presented in this election.

That's all.

And from what I could gather,the email cited the Republicans for Obama Website, but it was disavowed by the website as not reflecting the purpose or scope of their advocacy. The email may have been quoting a blog post on the site, or not. The post, if it was ever there, is gone now.