Monday, March 17, 2008

Voters Behaving Badly

If Democrats could choose which Republican would be nominated to run for President, wouldn't they have fun! Would they choose McCain? Maybe they'd pick Romney, who came in less than one half percent behind McCain in the crucial winner-take-all Florida primary.

Don't be silly, you say, only party members choose the party's presidential candidate? I only wish! The Boston Globe reports that Republicans made a 100,000 vote difference in the Democratic race in Ohio, 119,000 in Texas and 38,000 in the vote in Mississippi. These weren't the Republicans who have been voting for Obama because they want to vote for him in the fall. These were Republicans who will vote for McCain, and want to choose Hillary for his opponent. How does the Boston Globe know that? Well, because those voters told the pollsters so!

By my calculations, in Ohio that means that Hillary's ten point win is reduced to five points, the same as McCain's over Romney in Florida. In other words, some of the delegates she won would have gone to Obama if Ohio had rules the same election rules as Oregon's. In Oregon we don't have the option to vote the opposite party's ballot during a primary election.

Oregon and some other states have a "closed primary", where you have to be pre-registered as a member of that party to vote your choice of their candidate, which will then run against the other party's candidate in the general election in November. Oregon's rules are to protect parties against specious votes in cases just such as this, when one party's candidate is running virtually unopposed, and the other party has two candidates locked in a win-or-die struggle in the primary elections.

Those voters were urged into their bad behavior by idols of "good behavior" such as Rush Limbaugh, but just because something is legal, or some shock jock radio host says it's good, doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. Anything that weakens the security and veracity of election results is bad for all of us.

These voters behaving badly are making losers out of everyone who depends on fair elections - and ultimately, that is all of us.

1 comment:

Therapy Cat said...

The choice of open vs closed primaries presents a real dilemma. If you close the primaries, independents can't influence the choice of candidates but if you open them, the sort of manipulation of the results you discuss (which was spurred on by Limbaugh in the present case) becomes possible. All in all, I still like the open primary but I hope the superdelegates read the article you reference.

Thanks for your feedback on my blog. I've enlarged the font in hopes of making it more readable but I haven't been able to get myself to change the red on black format as of yet. I'm too attached to it!

All the best, Owen