A winning strategy of losing?

In a comment to an earlier post, I opined that Hillary has a far better chance of beating McCain than Obama ever would, which is why I questioned the motives of some of the Republicans who support her.

But in this topsy-turvy state of affairs created by massive crossover voting (25% of Clinton's voters in Mississippi were Republicans), is it logical for me to use the word "support"?

While it's true that some Republicans -- Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, Bill Cunningham, and the like -- have stated that they would vote for Hillary if she is McCain's opponent, I don't think it's fair to say that most of Hillary's Republican voters are her "supporters."

Clearly, the Hillary Republicans are voting for a variety of reasons. The "Limbaugh camp" advocates voting for Hillary as a crossover strategy, not (at least, so they say) because they like Hillary or hate Obama, but to "help McCain." This camp can be divided into two groups: one which believes Hillary would be easier for McCain to beat, and another which believes that causing chaos in the Democratic Party will assist the Republicans.

OK, I may be wrong about this, but I don't think Hillary Clinton will be easier to beat. Far from it. The Clintons are a formidable pair -- at their best when running against Republicans. They will be running a virtual incumbency campaign fueled by nostalgia for "peace and economic prosperity," which they will claim they delivered before and can deliver again.

Short term, the chaos Republicans are promoting will be just that. But it won't last past June. In fact, the more the voters see Obama's blood in the water, the more likely they are to turn on him and put him out of his misery, shed their dreams, and get back to Hillary.

I think that once the Dems get their act together, it will be all out war on McCain -- and my fix on this is that if the Clintons are on the top of the ticket, Hillary has a much better chance of winning than Obama ever would. Right now, they are perfectly happy to use Republicans attacks on Obama (and crossover votes against him) to their benefit, but once the dust has settled, it would not surprise me to see the Clintons turn right around and claim that it was "Republican racist interference" which derailed Obama. That it was the Republicans, true to their Karl Rove style, who played the race card all along (especially by accusing the Clintons of playing it). And it was the Democratic Party and some of its voters who were tricked, misled, and confused by slick Republican operatives. The Dems love being victims, and being "victims of Republican racism" is extremely popular. It would fit the unity theme, and even Obama might play along. Hell, he could even cite his (and the Clintons') numerous statements to the effect that they were trying to keep race from being an issue in the campaign.

But the racist Republicans just wouldn't let them.

This of course is classic Machiavellianism. Allow or encourage your adversary to do your dirty work, then attack him for doing it. (The Clintons are of course masters of Machiavellian tactics.)

I think there is a third group of Hillary Republican voters who haven't been much discussed -- and I think it would be fair to call them the Anyone But Obama (ABO) Republicans. It would of course be wrong to call them Hillary supporters, but I think it's equally wrong to call them "Republican victory strategists," as their thinking is not geared toward Republican victory, so much as it is stopping Obama, a man they see as extremely dangerous for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons (such as the concerns over his bigoted anti-American minister, and ethically questionable real estate deals) are legitimate, even if I think the litany of Clinton scandals make them pale by comparison. But other concerns (that Obama is a secret Muslim who hates America whose middle name is of urgent importance) border on outright paranoid conspiracy nonsense. If they want conspiracy theories, what's wrong with Vincent Foster, Ron Brown and that long list of corpses I'm sure is floating around somewhere?

The thing is, as an admitted Clintonphobe I'd be a hypocrite to condemn people suffering from Obamaphobia. However, I do think my negative feelings about the Clintons are based on what I remember about their eight years in power, and for the most part (save that which is still being withheld by the Clintons) it's documented history. Fear of the Clintons is based on fear of the known. But I think much of the fear of Obama is based fear of the unknown.

I admit it; I fear a Hillary presidency more than I fear an Obama presidency, for what I think are rational reasons. But it would be dishonest of me to vote for Obama based on that fear and then call it a Republican victory strategy unless I was absolutely convinced -- above and beyond my fear -- that Obama was more likely than Hillary to lose to McCain in the fall, which I think he is.

If I thought Obama was more likely to beat McCain and I crossed over and voted for him anyway simply in order to stop Hillary, I'd be voting with my emotions, and ultimately I would be hurting McCain.

My worry is that some (and I don't know how many) of the Republican crossovers for Hillary are more concerned with stopping Obama than anything else. It is not honest to call an Anyone But Obama campaign a Republican victory strategy.

This leads me to the last group of Hillary Republicans: those whose who are dourly pessimistic about Republican chances in the Fall, and who do not believe McCain can defeat either Obama or Hillary. Therefore, they believe they should pick the Democratic winner now. By no stretch of the imagination can this be called a Republican victory strategy; it is by definition a loser strategy grounded in emotional pessimism.

I can understand the urge of Republicans to undermine the Democrats, and I can understand why Republicans would disagree about which candidate might be more likely to defeat McCain.

However, as to any Republican who would deliberately vote for a Democrat -- whether Obama or Hillary -- with the conscious awareness that he is voting for the stronger candidate against McCain, I think such a Republican could fairly be described as being "on the other side."

For the life of me I cannot understand how going out and consciously helping the Democrats' strongest candidate can be called a Republican victory strategy.

Unless, of course, a deliberate loss in the hope of a "Long March" back can be called a "victory" strategy. Perhaps it can. I'm just not sure its proponents are being clear about it.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Might it be that there is something inherently corrupting about crossover voting? I don't know.

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and a warm welcome to all!

All comments appreciated -- agree or disagree.

posted by Eric on 03.15.08 at 11:38 AM


There's another group on the conservative side: they're ticked off both at the Republican Party leadership in general and at McCain in particular. A guy called Sean Hannity last week(yeah, I listen sometimes) and put it that "This guy has spent the last ten years sticking his thumb in my eye and using the Constitution like toilet paper and I'm supposed to be happy to vote for him?", which pretty much covers it: since there is no conservative candidate, why not stir things up even worse?

Those people, except for the war and one or two other things, see very little difference between Hillary and McCain(though due to his stands on a number of points they definitely see Obama as a greater evil: higher taxes, weaker defense, etc.).

Firehand   ·  March 15, 2008 1:49 PM

Brief chat this past week with my trade association's lobbyist.

Neither of us see a friend in McCain. (My industry is one of the few laissez faire industries left.) McCain is one of this country's major control freaks.

But Senator Clinton or Obama? There are serious questions whether any "normal" would be left.

McCain is all about tough love when it comes to industry. For Senators Clinton and Obama, I guess it's more "What's Love Got To Do With It?"


OregonGuy   ·  March 15, 2008 1:57 PM

Are there any facts posted here?

CodyT   ·  March 15, 2008 4:17 PM

Only a few, I'm afraid. But since you asked, I'll list the facts which were posted here:

- 25% of Clinton's voters in Mississippi were Republicans.

- Ann Coulter, Pat Buchanan, and Bill Cunningham endorsed Hillary.

- Rush Limbaugh advocates voting for Hillary as a crossover strategy.

- Some Republicans want McCain to lose and have said so.

- Some Republicans fear Hillary more than Obama.

- Some Republicans fear Obama more than Hillary.

The rest of the post consists largely of my opinions, beliefs, speculation, and conjecture. That's pretty much the case in many of my posts.

Of course, it could be argued that if an opinion reflects what I think, then it is a fact that I think that. However, that does not make the opinion itself a fact.

That's probably not a factually exhaustive summary, but I hope it helps.


Eric Scheie   ·  March 15, 2008 5:07 PM

Cross-over voting is not a problem. In a real primary,every voter would be allowed to vote in every primary. We have got to find some way of taking the primaries away from each parties lunatic fringe. Either that, or the primaries must be suppressed in favor of the back room deals. Nearly every good president we have had was nominated in the back room (Lincoln, both Roosevelts, Truman, Eisenhower, etc) and nearly every bad president was the product of the primaries (Carter, Clinton, Bush II)

Bob Sykes   ·  March 15, 2008 6:51 PM

This may not be worth much but I support Hillary because I am one of those Libertarianish "Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal" types and I see that the Republicans and the Democrats have both adopted the "Fiscally Liberal, Socially Conservative" platform for the most part.

The Democrats are a hair better at not being Socially Conservative, though.

On top of that, I know that if Obama gets elected, he'll have coattails and he and Congress will work together to do stuff for The Children.

If McCain gets elected, he's a firm believer in "bipartisanship" and will sign pretty much whatever the damn Congress will send him. "We're working together to get things done!" he will say on more than one occasion.

If Hillary gets elected, however? Oh, the Republicans will go apeshit. Apeshit apeshit. She won't be able to blow her nose without Republicans asking "Is it a fair use of your tax dollars to buy Puffs for the White House when the Average Hardworking American can only afford Kleenex?" They will Filibuster dang near everything except birthday wishes. They may even Filibuster those.

And we will, once again, be blessed with sweet, sweet gridlock.

And if the Republicans have taught me anything these last 8 years it is this:

Gridlock ain't so bad.

And that's why I support Hillary.

Jaybird   ·  March 16, 2008 11:01 AM

For me personally, I think that barring a convention meltdown, the Democrat is going to win in the fall regardless. The media will deliver their 10-15% and it won't even be close. And in that scenario Hillary is far, far better than Obama. Hillary is a cynic, who will say anything to get elected. Obama is a true believer and is unlikely to be swayed by anyone from what he thinks is the correct course.

So when I crossed over in Texas I did so under the assumption that I was voting for President. As for the fall election? I'll leave the top spot blank most likely. But my vote won't really matter, because if Texas is in play, the Democrats are looking at a landslide of Reaganesque proportions. If I lived in a swing state? Ugh, I don't even want to contemplate that.

The country's about to go through a rough four years, regardless. At this point, we have to start thinking about the four years following that.

Skip   ·  March 16, 2008 11:05 AM

The problem is that no one can predict the future. You don't know the ultimate outcome of your vote. The unpredictability is why you should only vote for people that you wouldn't mind actually taking up office.

John Lynch   ·  March 16, 2008 11:14 AM

People should be allowed to vote for whom they choose, for the reasons they choose. For or against. In support of, against or a vote of pure strategy. Provided they only get one shot at it. None of this my 1st vote is..., my 2nd vote is... crap.

Considering that the parties neither one well represent that 1/3rd of people in the middle who swing back and forth, there is nothing wrong with crossover voting... unless of course any particular party purist candidate gets kicked in the teeth because of it. Then OMG!!!

You need to keep in mind as well that many places in the south you have to register as a Democrat to vote in the local elections. To have a voice where your voice is most likely to be heard. However come general elections for president, they many times vote Republican for President. This isn't an insignificant number of people and they are nearly always making a strategic vote in the primary. Who is best for their choice of candidate or party to run against in Nov.

rgaye   ·  March 16, 2008 11:16 AM

Your post is interesting in examining the Republican crossovers to vote in Democratic primaries, and whether it is sound or ethical. You need to also consider that McCain won the Republican primaries based on significant votes of Democrats in New Hampshire and other states.

Nirol   ·  March 16, 2008 11:21 AM

However, as to any Republican who would deliberately vote for a Democrat -- whether Obama or Hillary -- with the conscious awareness that he is voting for the stronger candidate against McCain, I think such a Republican could fairly be described as being "on the other side."

I basically agree with this, though you may be describing an empty (or near empty) set of people.

One situation where I would disagree, however: Suppose you think Clinton is stronger than Obama, but also think that it is very unlikely clinton will get the nomination. In this case, one could argue that a vote for clinton is essentially a vote for a longer and messier primary.

In fact, with the recent revelations about Obama's pastor, I can see the a case for the above argument -- It might be very difficult for the superdelegates to go against the popular vote and the pledged delegate count, making Obama an almost guaranteed winner. But the longer Clinton holds on, and the closer Clinton comes to beating him, the harder it will be for them to unite the party.

Marshall   ·  March 16, 2008 12:00 PM

Approval voting would fix this and many other problems. It would open up our two party system to competition. One man one vote--per candidate. Count 'em up at the end and the one with the most votes wins.

peter jackson   ·  March 16, 2008 12:04 PM

There is an argument for and against what you are saying.

The arguement against is as follows: Since the media has spent 7 years putting McCain on the pedistal it will be very hard for Clinton to knock him off of it between the convention and the election, furthermore it assumes that people who vote for Demorcrats will forget everything that was said and done in the campaign and listen to such tripe.

The argument for is simple: Of course they will forget and listen, these are the same people who for the sake of beliving the Clintons ignored all the reality of what they did for a decade and more. They can't do otherwise without admiting their own mistake and aid it them being what they are.

Unfortuately the argument for is correct.

Peter   ·  March 16, 2008 1:00 PM

"However, as to any Republican who would deliberately vote for a Democrat -- whether Obama or Hillary -- with the conscious awareness that he is voting for the stronger candidate against McCain, I think such a Republican could fairly be described as being "on the other side."

And where did these 'people' call it a Republican victory strategy? Seems they're simply voting according to what they think is best for the country (no Obama). I'm not one of them, but being a "good Republican" is near the bottom of my priorities.

MlR   ·  March 16, 2008 1:25 PM

Might it be that there is something inherently corrupting about crossover voting?

Of course there is. Political parties hold primaries to nominate their candidates: when non-members (especially hostile non-members) vote in those primaries they pervert the process.

PersonFromPorlock   ·  March 16, 2008 1:34 PM

Have even 1-million people voted in the primaries, yet?

And, yes, I suspected Obama's numbers, in his wins, was coming from cross-over republicans; all having lost interest in McCain. And, yet? Seeming to prefer this "inevitable." As Guiliani exited the scene. Wasn't welcomed in by the religious segment of republican voters.

So, now, you'd learn the primaries, which need to be tackled, do not work any better than "the smoke filled rooms."

GOing into the republican tent, back in 1860, Lincoln was in 4th place. The 3 favorite sons, however, formed camps. Had no national recognition; and, pitted one man against the other.

On a lucky break, when the convention on it's first night, almost pushed Stanton? Or Seward? Over the top ... The ballots to vote had not come in from the printers.

And, overnight, Lincoln's cohorts worked all 3 groups. Spelling out the obvious. If you don't pick a candidate who can win, your ticket will LOSE. And, all the politcal plums that hang from this, will go down the toilet.

This is still true. Whether you call these "workers" super-delegates, or not. They're not there just for the entertainment spectacle.

If Obama makes it? HE's toast. He'll make George McGovern's numbers look high!

McCain versus Hillary?

Well, what happens if lots of GOP voters just stay home? People, when they're disgusted, are known to wait out an election and not vote.

Can Hillary win? Well she's MODERATE. She's won twice in New York State. And, people who vote for her will get someone better their either Bush, in office, ever was.

Do not discount that Bush wants to hand "something" to the Saud's. He's been at this game since Baghdad fell to American troops in 21 days. And, over in the Mideast? NO ONE WANTS THE SAUD'S TO BE IN CHARGE! Except, of course, BUSH. (And, McCain is making a special trip to Irak and Jerusalem, now. Just to offset Bush's unwillingness to truck any other policy except to enrich the Saud's.)

After June, I think lots of discussions will be heating up. While Bush will try to push his "2-State" solution down unwilling throats.

Carol Herman   ·  March 16, 2008 1:51 PM

Primaries are for the political parties to help pick their candidates. They were not originally for all the population to do an early presidential election. However since many primaries are open and allow independents (those who chose not to a member of either political party) and other states allow crossover voting, the purity of the vote coming from a political party has been lost. Democrats have been influencing early Republican primaries for many elections.

Nothing wrong for Republicans, since our nominating process has been completed, to try and influence the other party candidates.

Hopefully that will ensure that we get the best two candidates in the fall. I may hate Hillary, but at least I believe she is more pro American than Barack. I came to that conclusion months ago. It had nothing to do with Pastor Wright’s revelation that he is a Marxist, black separatist, hate America pastor that has influence Barack and his wife for 20 years. But hearing Wright’s rants have proven my opinion correct. It explains why Michelle Obama felt the first time she felt pride in America is when her husband was winning. She is an America hater, typical of the leftist strain. She associated with Angela Davis. Obama had a weathermen bomber as an associate.

I fear the Clinton’s are partially owned by China. But the Clintons are so amoral they do not stay bought. I can control a corrupt politician; I have less ability to control a politician driven by leftist ideology. Who feels that he is destiny’s child or the second savior? That type of politician is much more dangerous.

Besides as others have mention the Republicans can pull together to fight Hillary if she is elected. More difficult to do that to the first black president. White expiation of our allege quilt requires us to allow Obama to be at least partially successful, Anytime, the republicans would try to stop Obama the president, they would be called racist and shut down.

So for many reason’s it not only right to try to influence the Democratic candidate but our obligation if we feel that Obama is the greater evil.

RAH   ·  March 16, 2008 3:00 PM

I voted for Hillary Clinton in the Texas primary specifically to influence television reporting. With winner-takes-all rules on the Republican side and weighted proportional delegate selection on the Democrat side, my one vote in Republican leaning Collin county wasn't going to have much influence on delegate count. It's only effect would be to help change the TV story on Marth 4th. I asked for a Democrat ballot in early voting and encouraged friends to do the same. We helped clueless television talking heads to declare Hillary Clinton to be the "winner" of Texas, stopping Obama's momentum, without actually helping Hillary gain ground in delegates.

George   ·  March 16, 2008 3:08 PM

I have to offer the story of my 75 year old mother when it comes to crossover voting. She lives in Ohio and voted as a Democrat despite being a staunch Republican. She doesn't listen to Rush and really dislikes talk radio. She gets all her news from the major news shows. Yet, she voted for Obama because she despises Hillary and wanted the chance to vote against her. She is excited for McCain in November and plans to vote for him. She speaks up for him at her senior citizen gatherings.

I was astonished when I found out she voted for Obama. She just wanted the chance to vote against Hillary. I told her now that she's tagged as a Democrat, she can appear in a news interview as a Democrat for McCain. After all, they always seem to find Republicans for the Democratic candidate. :)

Louise B   ·  March 16, 2008 3:12 PM

Oh to address the strategy means that Republicans beleive that the democrats will win is incorrect. I think that McCain has strong chance to win. Especially with a very divisive Democratic primary.

Up until the Wright revelation, I did not think Hillary would win. I never discount a Clinton, but the cult like following for Obama is extremely strong. I saw on Friday evening the destruction of the Obama candidacy. If I had known that would be revealing im such damning video then my political calculation may have been different. I voted in Maryland, and I voted for a Republican candidate. Maryland will go for a Democrat anyway in the general,that I could vote for my preference.

Since I worked the polls I saw the large number of voters who were ineligible come out to vote. These are those voters who change address and never update the address with voter registration.

They all came out to vote for Obama. The college age voters were voting Republican to contrast with the young vote going with Obama. Blacks voted in large numbers and Obama is what brought them out.

RAH   ·  March 16, 2008 3:23 PM

You seem to have limited your discussion to how it affects the party, but what about how it affects the country? I chose to stick with my party and my candidate and vote for McCain in Texas and leave the rest to Providence. However, at the time I considered Obama and Hillary pretty much a wash as far as their policy positions. Now I think that Obama may be worse than I had realized. If I were voting in an upcoming primary I might vote for Hillary even knowing that she will be tough to beat because I think Obama is worse for the country than Hillary, and defending the country is even more important than McCain winning the election.

JeanE   ·  March 16, 2008 3:25 PM

As a GOP chairman in a very red county, I agree with you on all counts. Obama is at least open to market solutions to some of our most pressing problems, and from accounts I've read, seems to work well with his adversaries. Hillary, on the other hand, is pure evil, will stop at nothing to institute socialism and "the right not to be offended", and would be the far more difficult candidate to beat.

The whole process you describe calls for the institution of closed primaries with party registration everywhere (as we do here in Nevada). That doesn't eliminate crossover "raiding" completely (as the Specter/Toomey 2004 PA Senate primary proved), but does act as an impediment.

Howard Hirsch   ·  March 16, 2008 8:21 PM

This post has acknowledged some of the points raised by those who are leaning to the ABO argument.

I personally, on this site, exhorted all legal voters to go to the Democratic primary and vote Hillary: I made an ABO post here, March 7, 2008 12:45 AM.

My post cited: Obama's voting record, appeals to racial solidarity being made in his name, the cult of personality (again) engineered in his name, and most of all his personal charisma - Woodrow Wilson, FD Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson all had less charisma than BHO and look what they did.

My post did not say one d@#$ed thing relevant to Obama about: scandals, and Islam.

David Ross   ·  March 16, 2008 9:26 PM

I also didn't mention pastor Wright, but I would have brought up the fact that Obama allowed his children access to this creature had I known... so that's a wash.

ABO for the win! At least, for the not-wholly-catastrophic-loss! And that's a message we should all get behind, preferably before November than during...

David Ross   ·  March 16, 2008 9:30 PM

Howard: 'Obama is at least open to market solutions to some of our most pressing problems, and from accounts I've read, seems to work well with his adversaries. Hillary, on the other hand, is pure evil, will stop at nothing to institute socialism and "the right not to be offended", and would be the far more difficult candidate to beat.'

Obama is "open" to market solutions as a candidate talking one-on-one; but when it comes voting time, votes against them more often than any other Senator- even Hillary. This "works well with adversaries" canard, in Senatorial terms, means he has successfully got Republicans to vote alongside his socialist agenda. McCain-Feingold and McCain-Kennedy were surely two votes of which he is proud to have worked well with his adversaries ... against the citizenry and the Constitution.

You're in "I award you no points" territory, dude.

David Ross   ·  March 16, 2008 9:42 PM

The idea of primaries is for political parties to choose the best candidate to run against the opposing party's best candidate in the general election.

With open primaries, voters on both sides cross over to vote for the worst candidate of the opposing party.

It seems to me that, over time, this would tend to lower the quality of candidates of both parties. Am I alone in thinking this is a bad idea?

rickl   ·  March 17, 2008 2:35 AM

Crossover voting assures that both parties select their worst possible choice. Then the whole nation gets to choose between two bad candidates to be the leader of the free world.

That's how the Dems forced John McCain to the GOP nomination, despite his many, many betrayals of the party and its principles.

Of course, that's now biting the Dems in the butt, and when Hillary finally pulls out a win, 90% of black voters will stay home because once again somebody "stole" the election. It's the Ferrer/Green 2001 primary all over again, but on a national level.

Both parties should punish states that allow crossover voting by barring their delegates. Then maybe they can at least choose who they want to be their standardbearer, instead of who the oppostion thinks will be a weaker candidate.

Korla Pundit   ·  March 17, 2008 10:44 AM

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