Politics/Law/Government

Why Hillary will lose the primary – the hidden cross-over vote

Guest Scrogue Brandon Tutt lives in the Greater Boulder/Denver area and is a frequent contributor to some of S&R’s liveliest discussion threads. A father of two, he actively follows politics partially as his solemn duty to remain an informed and involved citizen and partially for the soap opera-esque entertainment. His degree in anthropology lets him view world events and local happenings as cultural phenomena. His favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate.


There was only one vote for a candidate for public office that I have ever regretted. It was the 2000 Democratic primaries in Massachusetts where I pulled the lever for Bill Bradley over Al Gore. I had nothing against Gore, I just thought Bradley was a better candidate and would make a better president. But my wife – forever a more wise and astute creature than myself – registered as a Republican and voted for McCain to stop Bush from getting the nomination. Her desire to keep the worst candidate out of office overcame her desire to vote for the best candidate. If only more people followed her lead.Fast-forward to early 2008: Primaries are about to begin and there is only one candidate Republicans feel passionate about: Hillary Clinton. None of their candidates are looking that appealing (“None of the above”(1) is a current Republican frontrunner) and the phrase “President Hillary” fills them with dread. But she is still topping the polls while Bush’s approval rating is barely pushing 30%. Conservatives see which way the wind is blowing; the country is swinging back to the Left and bringing the presidency with it.So what are their options?

  1. Vote for their “Ron Paul” – the candidate they like the best even though he’d have a hard time getting enough electoral votes.
  2. Vote for their “John Kerry” – the Republican candidate who they think has the best shot at beating Hillary, even though he doesn’t share their ideals and will probably end up just like Kerry.
  3. Wait and vote for an independent like Michael Bloomberg – even though he’ll do what Perot did; throw the race to the Clintons.
  4. Register as a Democrat for a day and vote for the Democratic candidate that can stop Hillary from getting the nomination.

Like Iraq, there are “no good options” here. Faithful Republicans will always vote for their party’s ticket come November, but they despise Hillary so much that they will do whatever it takes keep her from the White House, even register as a Democrat. So, when the snow starts to fall, don’t be surprised if conservative blogs offer advice on how to vote in the Democratic primaries(2).

But which non-Clinton will they vote for? Current weathervanes point towards Obama. A Washington Post poll found that Republicans and independents had a much more optimistic view of Obama winning the presidency than other Democratic candidates. And in the Iowa Straw Poll Barack captured almost 7 percent of the Republican vote, “more than Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Sam Brownback combined.” (3)

Obama’s allure is his lack of partisanship – his desire to find solutions rather than score political points.(5) This is the exact opposite of the Bush Administration’s willingness to put party before country. Many disillusioned Republicans are turning away from Rovian winner-takes-all politics and believe Obama may have a sympathetic ear. This is how one future Bush White House lawyer explained why he voted for him to become the president of the Harvard Law Review: “Even though he was clearly a liberal, he didn’t appear to the conservatives in the review to be taking sides in the tribal warfare.”(4) For conservatives in the “anyone but Hillary” camp, this is very appealing.

Case in point is Joe Rowe, a lifelong Republican who registered as a Democrat to vote for Obama because he’s “sick of people not working together.” Ask him about Clinton, however, and he gets testy. “There is no way in hell I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I am going to go to Canada if she wins.”(3) If these are the type of people he is able to pull over, then if Obama gets the nomination, he’ll the White House in a landslide.

(1) http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070717/NEWS02/70717001

(2) http://www.thegreenpapers.com/P08/D-DSVE.phtml

(3) http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/08/24/obama_gop/

(4) http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/01/28/at_harvard_law_a_unifying_voice/?page=4

(5) http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/05/07/070507fa_fact_macfarquhar?currentPage=1 – Be sure to read the excerpts on page two about how Hillary and Barack’s rhetoric differs on the same topic.

36 replies »

  1. I have no interest in Hillary Clinton as a candidate, for multiple reasons, some of which I’ve previously detailed here at S&R. If independents or Republicans want to cross over to help deny her the nomination, fine with me. We actually have stronger Democrat candidates that are less likely to be torn down by previous administration baggage and cartoonish characterizations.

    I wonder how many people wouldn’t want her for the president just because of timing? We had Bush senior, Clinton, Bush Jr, and now Mrs. Clinton? Nope, not an oligarchy in this country, pure democracy, we swear. Anyone can grow up to be president… The fact that the presidency seems to be passed back and forth between the two families like a fruit cake may have some citizens wondering why they hell they bother to vote in the first place.

  2. Well said, Lara. Just about everyone I’ve talked to has had similar sentiments about Hillary. Which gets me wondering What do all of her supporters see in her? I’m thinking that a large part is a desire to turn back the clock to the mid-90s. Before war and recession and 9/11. When the Cold War was a bad memory, we had no serious threats or enemies and the globe was relatively peaceful; the internet and economy boomed and we were all pretty optimistic. Maybe by putting the Clintons back in the White House we can return to the Good Times.

    But terrorism and insecurity will be with us for a while. We are currently sliding into Authoritarianism under Bush. While turning back the clock is certainly better than a Police State and seems inviting, there will need to be a whole new approach to internationalism and terrorism before we can enjoy the prosperity and security of the 90s. All I can see in the Clintons is “same old, same old”.

  3. Exactly, Djerrid — what is it about the most bland and boring presidential candidate since the likes of Dukakis and Mondale that engenders passion in her supporters?

  4. Brandon, thanks for the post. It’s a good read. I appreciate as well the other comments.

    Me? I’m voting for Doc Slammy in ’08.

  5. Mr. Tutt suggests that cross-over Republicans who vote for a (non Hillary) Democrat in a Democratic primary will choose a Democrat about whom they have an “optomistic view”. I don’t think so. They will vote for the Democrat they consider to be the weakest opponent for the Republican in the the general election. Remember, they are still Republicans!

  6. My wife pulled the same trick, but in the last Colorado Senate race.

    I actually thought about doing this once as well, but I thought about going the other way and, like John suggested, voting for the most nut-ball Republican I could (that year it was Pat Buchanan for President). Of course, I had more faith that the electorate was intelligent than I do now….

  7. I will make sure to vote for anyone but Hillary. Bill Clinton would have been a Republican in the past. I don’t have fond memories of him and the good times of the 90s had little to do with Bill Clinton.
    I certainly would rather have Hillary then another Bush type, because of the impending Police State he is creating.

  8. It’s funny how this conversation is all Obma/Hilary and not one of you has mentioned the best cadidate…Edwards. You guys yella or something?

    As for this “oligarchy” stuff, blow it out your talking point. The Clinton;’s are an American success story unlike the Bush’s, who have a checkered past littered with swastika’s. Hilary has seen the darkest parts of our government and i know deep inside she despises it and will do her best to bring REAL honor back to this country.

  9. Mike–you’re kidding, right? HILLARY will bring honor back to our country? I would point out the fact that she LOVES big corporate donations, has vowed NOT to stop accepting them….so basically she is hell-bent on “winning” a job using dirty money so that she can achieve the higher goal of “returning honor” to the country. Hmmm, sounds alot like George Bush’s campaign promises about bringing honor and integrity back to the White House, and that’s worked out really well…..

  10. Enough whistling past the graveyard. Democratic Party primaries are a bad joke. At least be honest with yourself and recognize that you DON’T have a real choice and you WILL vote for Hillary. Stop fooling yourself.

  11. I hope to god you are right.

    The problem right now is that Hillary is in the lead not despite the hatred she engenders, but rather because of it. I have a theory that if you were to take an instant runoff poll, where each candidate received a number ranking that was whittled down until reaching a majority, Obama would easily win. Obama and Edwards are effectively splitting the anti-Hillary vote with each other. Not to say that people don’t vote for them on their merits alone, but if one were to drop out of the race, I strongly believe you’d see the other absorb the new support much more so than Hillary.

    As for her strong support, she’s running on name recognition alone, and to a lesser extent, the female candidate novelty vote. That’s all I can figure at least, seeing as:

    -She has by far the least progressive health care plan of the Democrats (receiving massive donations from the insurance companies would probably explain this)
    -Her positions and ideas regarding Iraq are the weakest and least thought out
    -She is self-admittedly the least likely of all candidates to clean up lobbying in Washington
    -It’s a widely known fact that the republicans essentially consider her the Queen of the Damned, and as mentioned in the blog, will do ANYTHING to make her lose.

    And the list goes on. She doesn’t despise the darkest parts of the government, she welcomes them and their money openly. When the Democrats nominate the 3rd completely uninspiring candidate in a row and “just narrowly” lose AGAIN, we have absolutely no one to blame but ourselves.

  12. There’s a bit of game theory evolved in the proposed voting tactic. If the hypothetical Republican believes that a Democrat will win no matter what, then he would vote for the Democrat in the primary that would best serve his interests. If his main goal would be to keep Hillary out of office then he will vote for the Dem that has the best chance at beating her. If he thinks that a Republican would have a chance of winning, he would vote for the Dem who could win the primary but have a poorer chance at taking the White House.

    I’d argue that the tides have turned so much in the Democrats favor that the hypothetical Republican’s best bet would be to vote for the Democrat that most closely shares their values in the primary.

  13. Once America realizes that both sides have been friends forever and already know who will win. like they are part of the same bird, then maybe they will awaken and vote in the Constitution Party, after all it doesn’t matter who you are or what religion you are, but it does have everything to do with we are a Republic and want to be free and stand on our laws of the constitution, bill of rights, and our Declaration of Independance. So quit calling yourselves Dem or Rep and get with it and get these liars out who wants to sell us out to global EU under Islamic law. No one learns from history but they will too late. Stand up and be counted and get these devils out of office and when we vote next time. remember time changes, people change and NOTHING ever stays the same. take off the labels and do the right thing for yu and your children or kill America bye bye.

  14. Probably the best commentary I have read yet about the upcoming 2008 Presidential race bar none. As a registered Republican (for now), I am decidedly in the camp of only one thing – making sure Clinton loses. Period. Anything else is pure gravy. The Clintons sold out rights to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom like red light district pimps especially to the Chinese who now have missile technology for their silkworms that previously could not hit the broad side of a barn. In a nuclear age, that will prove to have caused more damage in years to come than our nation’s escapades in Iraq ever will. Sign me, anyone else but Clinton in ’08. (And hoping Huckabee wins…the only straight shooter out there imo)

  15. I’m an independent who leans left. My top candidate is Ron Paul since he most intelligently speaks the truth and upholds the constitution. He is the only one with the sense to fix the financial mess we’re in.

    If Republicans would return to their roots and choose the most sensible candidate, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Ron Paul would steal a lot of Democratic votes and ultimately win. Throw in Obama as the VP and Hillary is toast.

  16. I have a hard time imagining republicans voting for a man who believes that the constitution is a cornerstone of our democracy and that rule of law is essential to a civil society. Not to mention Obama’s refusal to accept special interest contributions. Why would a republican vote for somebody that you can’t buy?

  17. Huh. I wonder if Hillary was a man, if there would be quite so many vitriolic replies about her candidacy?

    Your issues with her stances aside, it seems to me that America will never be ready for a female president as long as it comes in the form of a strong, assertive type like Mrs. Clinton. Laura Bush would have a much better chance of getting elected because she appears soft, feminine and submissive. What a sad commentary on this country.

    But I’m voting for Dennis Kucinich – the only really honest person running for prexy!

  18. writerchick — my sentiments exactly. This whole conversation seems, imo, like a frantic attempt by Hillary haters to come up with a strategy to beat her — even embracing a Republican coup during the Democratic primaries. Obama supporters are so delusional in their frenetic race that they actually believe that white, conservative, Republicans (no less) will get him in the White House with a landslide victory — that IS a laugh. As for me, both Clinton and Obama are just more of the same…Obama supporters think that because he doesn’t take straight up money from lobbies that he is different — what they don’t pay attention to is the “bundlers” business and the fact that Obama accepts lobbyists monies on the side as “donations” from the family members and employees of corporate and lobby big shots. That’s a pretty tricky way to hide the influence — if Obama is that sly with campaign donations, just imagine what he’d be like as president. I’m voting for the only voice of reason in this race — Dennis Kucinich. He probably won’t win, but at least I can go to bed at night knowing that I didn’t vote for just another political hack.

  19. I don’t like Hillary but in her defense. The Chinese got the missile guidance technology from Wang data systems, which at the time was represented by Tom Feeney.

    Look it up

  20. Personally , I like Obama and Edwards, but if I were to vote today, my first choice would be Obama. I do not trust Hillary.

    While Obama has been accused of being inexperienced, he has no less experience than Hillary. Being a First Lady does not qualify as experience. Obama was an Illinois state senator for 7 years before going to Washington where he has had 2.5 years of experience. How many years has Hillary been a senator? Furthermore Obama lived overseas which gives him a different perspective which I think all of us can appreciate.

    The quality I admire in Obama is his sense of justice tempered with intelligent and reasoned logic. His responses are generally measured and thoughtful. I like the fact he is willing to speak to other world leaders rather than insisting they must bend to American rule. By doing so it shows respect that is non-existent in the Bush administration. And his willingness to bridge the divide Obama shows cautioned reason, whereas Hillary is too reactive which means just more of the same. She is too hawkish and triangulates instead of taking a definitive stand. She seems eager to follow in Bush’s footsteps regarding foreign policy. For instance, her support for attacking Iran without taking into consideration the consequences is worrisome.

    Certainly no one will agree with any one person on all issues, but there is nothing to suggest Hillary will be much different than what we have now and that is unacceptable. IMHO Notwithstanding she is intelligent, charming and engaging, but i do not trust her.

    Theretofore if republicans cross over during the primary that is just fine with me. Obama has a lot of republican support, but how much is the question?

    Insofar as Ron Paul Iam impressed by his honesty and courage to speak the truth. Yet what i do not like includes his plans to privatize our infrastructure and most everything else, pull us out of the UN, disengage the US from treaties and end social programmes like Social Security and medicare, etc…

    I believe in the UN. Of course it is not perfect — it reminds me of our Congress. The UN is the only organization that, on the most part, keep nations talking and from warring on each other. Without the UN the world would be a crazy place without structure or law.

    I’d rather see the next president instead of backing out of treaties, fix them.

    Ending social programmes is not a practical idea either. Absent a safety net what are people to do; It would be unfair and unjust to them. Everyone deserves to have their basic needs met: a roof over their head, food, water and clothing. Iam not suggesting welfare, however, certain people do need help.

    If Ron Paul is your choice you may want to reconsider.

  21. 1) I’m with Brian, sort of, I think. And I’m not entirely sure how this plays against Tutt’s comment on game theory. I can see Republicans crossing over in the primary, but it makes no sense to try and kill her there unless they’re flat-out convinced that NO Republican has a chance against ANY Dem. If they feel like they have a chance of winning, the smart thing to do is cross and vote FOR her, because of the three frontrunners she’s the one they have the best chance of beating.

    And it ain’t like I never played crossover voter games before.

    2) Pelle says: Your issues with her stances aside, it seems to me that America will never be ready for a female president as long as it comes in the form of a strong, assertive type…

    Wait a second. What do you mean “issues with her stances aside”? Is this like “issues with his slashing innocent women aside, Jack the Ripper was an okay guy?” Are there people out there who are sexist and hate Hillary on those grounds? Sure – lots of them. But let’s take that argument over to them. Around here there are lots of people – me included – who’d be just peachy with a woman president (or a black or a gay or a whatever minority you’d like to inject into the conversation). But THE ISSUES are, well, the issue. There’s not currently a Republican I’d prefer to Hillary, but I assure you, I’ve had plenty to say about why I think she’d be horrible for the country, and if you caught me in the right moment some of it might sound “vitriolic.”

    But there’s the problem. Linking criticism of her with “vitriol” is a tactic that would, if successful, mute challenges to her on any grounds because hey, nobody wants to be framed as a sexist.

    So you can consider your thesis rejected in this corner. The problem with Hillary isn’t that she’s strong, it’s that she’s wrong.

  22. There’s always the problem of those states that don’t allow crossover voting . . . the Clinton steamroller has more momentum than you think.

    But then, so do the Obama and Edwards steamrollers.

    I also don’ t think you’ve given enough thought to the Republicans who are embarrassed as all get out at how Bush has dragged the country down economically and morally.

  23. As a conservative, I’m not afraid of Hillary getting the nomination. I don’t think she has what it takes to win. She seems weak to me and extremely wishy-washy.

    There are other candidates that are much stronger and have a better chance of winning – especially if the Republicans don’t get their act together. I just wonder why the press is so focused on Hillary.

    Also, why isn’t there a runoff in Presidential elections? Sure, it would cost money, but no more than these primaries. Do away with the primaries and let us just vote. Then let the top two winners duke it out.

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