Open Primary Shenanigans and the Santorum Democrats

According to exit polls, 10% of Democrats will have crossed over to cast a ballot in the Great Lakes State's GOP primary. Of those who have crossed over, 50% went to Rick Santorum, compared to just 15% who went for Mitt Romney. Nate Silver points out that in the early-wave exit polls, 59 percent of voters in Michigan's primary yesterday identified as Republican, versus 41 percent who said they were independents or Democrats, a figure that was higher than expected.

You can lose Michigan's delegates and still win the popular vote. How is that possible? Well, Michigan awards 28 of its 30 delegates based upon its fourteen congressional districts, some of which are heavily gerrymandered toward the Democrats. Hence the reason Rick Santorum is pulling for Democrats in his now infamous robocalls calling out union members to vote for him and send a message to Mitt Romney.

Ironically, according to a report by Kurt Rand at Rebel Pundit, it was actually Romney's backers in Michigan that pushed for an open primary! (Which makes sense. Romney's former campaign consultant, Mike Murphy, famously got John McCain to win Michigan by getting 17% of Democrats to cross over in 2000.)


Of course Romney backers are making much ado about how Rick Santorum and Operation Hilarity are combining to give Romney a black eye, but you shouldn't hate the player, you should hate the game and by all accounts Santorum does.

Santorum, just last month, said he believes that only Republicans ought to be able to vote in the GOP primaries. "We want the activists of the party, the people who make up the backbone of the Republican Party to have a say in who our nominee is as opposed to a bunch of people who don't even identify themselves as Republicans picking our nominee," Santorum told voters on the call held January 29."I don't like that. I believe that states should only allow Republicans to vote in Republican primaries... If you're a Democrat and you want to be a Democrat, then vote in the Democratic primary, not the Republican. If you want to vote in the Republican Party then become one."

There are plenty of reasons to encourage open primaries, not least of which is the fact that the fastest growing party in the U.S. are the unaffiliated. Keeping them out may well be a good idea in the primary, but it won't do in the general.


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