Thursday, March 06, 2008

Fun With Exit Polls: The Republican Swing to Hillary?!

by Tom Bozzo

In an open primary, you win with whoever registers a preference for you on the voting device, Still, after reading the Rude Pundit today, I indulged my inner conspiracy-theoretician and took a look at the primary exit polling. A funny thing has happened: whereas previously elsewhere (e.g., Virginia and Wisconsin) self-identified Republicans broke strongly for Obama — leading Clintonista spin to sink to the point where Ken linked some dodgy speculation about the role of unfriendly crossover voting in Obama's Februrary sweep — in Ohio and Texas the Republicans and conservatives were much more favorably inclined towards Clinton. These votes (like Republican votes for Obama in VA and WI) were not decisive, but they do raise the question, "Republicans for Hillary, are you f***ing nuts?!!1!"

Here are some before and after results:

Virginia: Republicans were 7% of the Democratic primary voters and went 72-23 Obama; 12% of the Democratic voters called themselves "conservative" and they voted 73-24 Obama. So Republicans voted like non-Republican conservatives.

Wisconsin: Republicans cast 9% of the votes and went 72-28 Obama. Conservatives were 14% and went 59-40 Obama; less-conservative conservatives broke more strongly for Obama (62-38) than the small (3%) fraction of very conservative voters who voted in the Democratic primary. The raw data would be needed to tell whether the Republicans for Obama either trended moderate or were conservative and voted unlike other conservatives. Still, you can't rule out the Obama Republicans being candidates for conversion.

Ohio: Republicans are also 9% but went 49-49 Clinton. The 14% of conservatives were also split 48-48, with the 50-45 Obama split of the somewhat conservative implying that the very conservative voted for Clinton.

Texas: Republicans were 9% of the vote and went 53-46 Obama. Whereas the 9% Republican vote in Wisconsin was the same as in 2004, the Republican identifiers were 5% of the 2004 vote in Texas. Texas conservatives (22%) went 52-45 Clinton and the very conservative (7%) went 58-42 Clinton.

So what can we conclude, other than that you can really drive yourself nuts trying to read these tea leaves? First, Clinton supporters who tried to disparage Obama support from crossover votes have some words to eat. Second, either a vaccine has been developed for Clinton Derangement Syndrome or Republicans and other conservatives are suddenly looking at HRC in a vastly more favorable light; I don't think there's much evidence for the former — e.g., the Pew survey suggests that HRC has solid Democratic support but more trouble attracting support from independents.

In any event, unfriendly strategic voting would logically go to the weaker potential opponent, which has tended to be HRC. Laughable as it might seem, maybe Mark Penn or the rest of the Clintonistas who should be kept away from microphones for the good of civilization can earn their keep by turning that around. But since none of them show the least sign of being able to recognize hope if it deposited $10 million in their checking accounts, I'm not holding my breath.


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