Friday, February 29, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via MSNBC: Some Texas Republicans to vote for Obama

As many as a tenth of the Texans voting in the Democratic contests could be Republicans, and overwhelmingly they favor Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, the polls show.

Well, given that a) the GOP race is noncompetitive, and b) one suspects that many votes who normally identify with the Republican Party prefer Obama to Clinton, this is hardly a shock.

However, as I continue to point out, people can call themselves whatever they like, but if they vote in the Democratic primary, they are Democratic voters by any definition of significance. Texas does not have partisan registration (i.e., the primaries are open, effectively meaning that party registration, if one wishes to utilize the term, takes place by the act of voting in a given party’s primary), so voters prior to making their choice on primary day aren’t, technically, anything in terms of partisan affiliation. yes, they have self-identities and past voting records, but that does not specifically define them for what happens now and into the future. Voters are free to make these decisions on a contest-by-contest, and even office-by-office process.

I would note, that even in states in which registration is required, voters don’t take lie detector tests, nor do they have to affirm that in their hearts that they are really Reps/Dems/Greens/whatever when they register. Indeed, even in states with closed primaries, there are always some voters who switch away from the party they most identify with to vote in the other party’s primary for any number of reasons.

As such, this constant drumbeat in the media about “Republicans” and “Independents” sullying Democratic processes exaggerates what these labels mean.

And yes: it is quite possible that many of the “Republicans” who decide on March 4th to be Democrats for that contest may vote for McCain in November. By the same token, many of the “Democrats” who vote on March 4th may change their minds and not vote Democratic in the general–does that mean, retroactively, that they weren’t “Democrats” on March 4th?

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2 Responses to “More on Closed Primaries and Partisan ID”

  • el
  • pt
    1. MSS Says:

      Well put, Steven.

      As for what it means for November, I believe there is a literature that addresses related questions. And, while I do not know it well, my understanding is that cross-over voters in primaries–and the demographic groups they represent–do have a tendency to stay with the party in the general. (I am defining “cross-over” here the way I understand Steven to be defining it: Based on people who tell a pollster they are ‘X’ yet plan to vote in the ‘Y’ primary.)

      Even in 2024, “Democrats” who “crossed over” to vote for McCain tended (by a margin of how great, I do not recall) to stay with the Republican, even though the Republican nominee had engaged in a pretty savage primary campaign against their preferred pre-candidate.

      So, I suspect that most of these “Republicans” who are sufficiently motivated in 2024 to turn out and vote in the Democratic primary will vote for the Democrat in the fall, even if it were to be Clinton. (Though they might not even think so now, and will tell a pollster otherwise, with complete sincerity.) I imagine the Dems would lose more of them if it were Clinton just as Reps in 2024 would have retained more of them had their candidate been McCain. But someone inclined to support the nominee of their (usual, or recent-past) party in the fall either votes for him/her in the primary or skips the primary. Most such voters don’t cast votes in the “other” party’s primary and then not vote for that party in the fall. (Keep in mind here another parallel to 2024: Except for NH, nominally Dem voters in 2024 already knew Gore would be the nominee, just as it now has been clear for a while to nominally Republican voters that McCain was going to be their nominee.)

      At least the above is my understanding. Someone with more energy than I have should track down the literature on this. I know it has been much addressed since the age of the primary came in to being over the last 30+ years. In fact, I suspect all the above is precisely the best argument in favor of open primaries, from a party’s own self-interested perspective.

    2. gus12 Says:

      It is clever re[ublican strategy knock out clinton to beat obama in november what a pity the only loss i see is United States of America

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