Voting Parties
February 17, 2004 2:39 PM   Subscribe

In Wisconsin, you don't have to declare a party in order to vote in the primary, which has me wondering, since George W. Bush is a lock on the republican side, why don't republicans vote in the democratic party for the person they think is the least likely to win?
posted by drezdn to Law & Government (20 answers total)
At least where I am that's the plan. There's an organized effort to spoil the vote.
posted by substrate at 2:43 PM on February 17, 2004

My father is a registered Republican in PA (so he claims) for this reason - to vote against the front-runner in Republican primaries.
posted by drobot at 2:43 PM on February 17, 2004

That's the precise reason that they closed Alaska's primaries a while back.
posted by mccreath at 2:44 PM on February 17, 2004

The same is true in Virginia... you don't have to declare your affiliation to a particular party when you register to vote or register your vote. On democratic primary day here, I asked my brother if he'd voted, and he told me he hadn't because he didn't want any of "those losers" to be elected. I said, why not vote for the one you want Bush to beat?

I'm the black sheep of this family, hoping someone will replace Bush soon.
posted by emelenjr at 2:47 PM on February 17, 2004

why don't republicans vote in the democratic party for the person they think is the least likely to win?

whatever would make you think they don't????
posted by quonsar at 2:51 PM on February 17, 2004

It's all part of the process.
posted by Songdog at 2:57 PM on February 17, 2004

when i lived in VA (where, as already pointed out, you don't have to register with a party to vote in a primary), i knew a number of people who claimed to have done precisely that. i imagine it's both more common than some people think and less common than others think because who's really that motivated?
posted by crush-onastick at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2004

I suspect that since it's hard to get people to vote for people they actually want to win, it's harder to get people motivated to vote for people they want to lose. And only the hardcore political wonks are going to bother.

I doubt that there'd be enough people to pull it together to make any difference. Sharpton and Kucinich still only got a fraction of the vote here in VA, and I would guess that they'd be the people to pick if your aim is to pick someone Bush could beat.
posted by crunchland at 3:14 PM on February 17, 2004

I know people who have changed party affiliation specifically to vote strategically.

Here in my state (Delaware), there are ridiculously tiny windows of time in which you can change party affiliation and still be eligible to vote in primaries and the like. According to this calendar, I can change my party affiliation only from Feb 8 through March 10 and from September 12 through October 13. 'Course, there's a primary for state offices in September, and things might be more relaxed in non-primary years.
posted by eilatan at 3:22 PM on February 17, 2004

This isn't quite your question, drezden, but I'm functionally a Republican - probably voted Dem 6X in last two decades - but I'm registered as a Democrat. Deal is, I live in a state and county that are overwhelming Dem and my only input to the electoral process is thru the Dem primary.

To return to your actual question, tho, the reason I vote for who I perceive to be the best best presidential candidate is that before I'm a Republican, I'm a citizen of the United States, and there's always at least some chance that Democratic candidate will be the next President. This isn't All-Star game balloting, it's live-fire democracy.
posted by mojohand at 5:50 PM on February 17, 2004

maybe that explains Kerry winning every state? (he's looking easier and easier for Bush to beat in Nov.)
posted by amberglow at 7:25 PM on February 17, 2004

Well, even if they do, doesn't that mean they're voting for the person least likely to win the primary, too? How many republicans are going to get out and vote for Kucinich because he doesn't stand a chance against Bush? Now if there were two democratic candidates in a dead heat, and republicans preferred one, I could see them trying to exert an influence.
posted by scarabic at 8:03 PM on February 17, 2004

Exit polls showed that half of the voters made their selection in the last week, most in the last few days - and Edwards led among late-breakers. Taking advantage of Wisconsin's open primary rules, one in 10 voters were Republicans and about 30 percent were independents. Those voters broke for Edwards.

I just lifted this from the headline Drudge story. Hmmmm....
posted by konolia at 8:06 PM on February 17, 2004

why don't republicans vote in the democratic party for the person they think is the least likely to win?

You know, I did just that! I voted for Kerry this afternoon.

I am a registered Republican in Wisconsin
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:17 PM on February 17, 2004

only the hardcore political wonks are going to bother

*shines new badge of honor*
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:26 PM on February 17, 2004

steve, did you really? stop making Kerry the nominee, dammit!
posted by amberglow at 8:44 PM on February 17, 2004

Response by poster: I voted for Kerry this afternoon.

I actually figured that republicans would vote for Kerry.
posted by drezdn at 12:04 AM on February 18, 2004

Huh? Someone actually thinks there's a Democrat that can't beat Bush?
posted by Goofyy at 12:52 AM on February 18, 2004

cross-over republicans
posted by crunchland at 5:35 AM on February 18, 2004

The open primary is a cherished part of Wisconsin voting culture, a legacy of our progressive (actually, Progressive Party!) past. An obvious bit of libertarianism for the privacy of the voter in the voting booth. But the parties, mind you, don't like it one bit. Indeed, back in 1984, the DNC refused to recognize Wisconsin's primary results and forced local Dems to hold caucuses, Iowa-style. (The state had already budgeted the primary, and mostly Republicans showed up. But it was ill-attended, Reagan being the renominee and all. Hart won the primary, Mondale the caucus.) This rules fight was resolved later, more or less, and the open primary continues, but other states have had intermittent fights over it; lately it's been the Republicans who worry.

Generally, I think it can't possibly matter that much, because it would be even more difficult, probably, to determine who would be the "worst" candidate than the best -- and who's to say that those extra votes for the worst candidate (say, Sharpton) would overwhelm any negative judgement by the party's own? For instance, the conventional wisdom for some time has been that Dean would be the "best" candidate the GOP could hope for, so why did Steve vote for Kerry -- especially given the way that Rove's attack dogs have come out snarling, which to me shows their fear of him? Nah, I think Steve's having a bit of fun with us, one way or the other.

Finally, since you don't have to declare in the November elections either, it's entirely possible that many of those Republicans were indeed voting for a Democratic candidate they would like as an alternative in the general election. The phenomenon of voting one way at the national level and another local is not, of course, unknown. Sometimes very-local politics might force you to register in one party whether you're really with them, mentally, or not; in Chicago, for instance, if you want to have any influence on policy whatsoever you have to be a Democrat.
posted by dhartung at 11:25 PM on February 19, 2004

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