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Note: I'm the author of a new book, Barack Obama: This Improbable Quest, but I'm not part of the Obama campaign.

Hillary Clinton suffered a huge defeat last night in Mississippi, and now faces an insurmountable pledged delegate lead by Barack Obama. But what most pundits missed was the fact that Obama’s victory would have been even more overwhelming in Mississippi (and he might have won the popular vote in Texas) if not for the "Limbaugh effect": Republicans voting in the Democratic primary in order to undermine Barack Obama and help John McCain.

Approximately 25% of Clinton’s voters in Mississippi were Republicans voting for a candidate they hate in order to try to undermine Barack Obama. Obama’s 61-37 margin of victory in Mississippi would have been around 70-30 without Clinton’s Republican voters, and Obama would have easily expanded his delegate win there from 19-14 to 24-9.

In this spreadsheet, I analyze the data on party voting from all of the exit polls in the Democratic primaries. The results are striking:

In the voting during January and February, Republicans were an average of 3.8% of the voters in the Democratic Primary, and they heavily supported Obama. But for the primaries in March, in Texas, Ohio, and Mississippi, Republicans have been 8% of the voters in the Democratic primary, and now they heavily support Hillary Clinton. This is definite proof of the "Limbaugh effect" coming through. Overall, 1.36% of the voters in the January and February primaries were Republicans who marked their ballot for Clinton; yet, 5.67% of the voters in the March primaries were Republicans voting for Clinton. Barack Obama’s Republican numbers in the March primary showed only a modest increase, probably from moderate Republicans who shifted their support to Obama once John McCain’s campaign was assured of victory.

In Ohio and Texas, 9% of the voters were Republicans, and they split almost evenly between Obama and Clinton. These votes, more than doubling the percentage of Republican voters in earlier primaries, gave Hillary Clinton a big advantage since Obama typically won more than twice as many voters as she did in previous primaries. In other words, about 3% of the voters in Ohio and Texas were Republicans newly voting for Hillary Clinton out of purely tactical reasons, to try to ruin the Democratic race.

The "HillPublicans" (insincere Republicans voting for Hillary) became a much larger force in the Mississippi election. Fully 9% of the people voting in the Democratic primary were Republicans voting for Clinton. That means that almost one-quarter of Clinton’s votes in Mississippi came from Republicans, nearly all of whom hate Clinton but wanted to distort the results of the Democratic primary. By contrast, Obama’s Republican vote, at 3%, was similar to his historical average throughout the primaries.

The exit polls in Mississippi proved that these "HillPublicans" are not sudden converts to the Clinton campaign. As this diary noted, 70% of those who have a strongly favorable opinion of McCain picked Clinton. In addition, 6% of the voters in the primary voted for Clinton and said they would be dissatisified if she won the nomination; only 1% of the primary voters went for Obama and said they would be dissatisfied if he won.
According to a Pew Research Poll in February, substantially more Republicans would support Obama (8%) rather than Clinton (5%) against McCain, so we know this voting is tactical.

Hillary Clinton’s loss in Mississippi would have been far more dramatic if not for the concerted efforts of Republicans to save her campaign and damage Barack Obama. Of course, some Clinton supporters might claim that these numbers simply reverse what was happening earlier in the primary, when Obama had the support of Republicans and independents. However, this is highly doubtful. Obama’s support came from moderates who are likely to switch parties in the fall. The votes he got came consistently during the early primaries when the Republican nomination was a hotly contested battle. It is unlikely that many Limbaugh supporters were voting for Obama back when they were so busy trying to deny McCain the nomination.

The "HillPublicans" had a dramatic effect on the analysis as well as the results. Pat Buchanan declared during the MSNBC coverage of the Mississippi vote, "Apparently Clinton’s voters don’t like Obama." That’s probably because more than one-quarter of Clinton’s voters were Republicans, and nearly all of them were voting in an effort to hurt Obama.

Rarely in American politics have so many people ever intentionally voted for a candidate they hate so much. Approximately 40,000 Republicans in Mississippi decided to vote for Hillary Clinton in order to help her destroy the Democratic Party this year with a divided convention. Hillary Clinton’s "big wins" in March failed to help her close the delegate gap, and she cannot possibly win the pledged delegate race against Obama. The only hope for Hillary Clinton is that Republican voters will help her reduce the gap against Obama, and that the superdelegates will somehow be convinced to obey the will of Rush Limbaugh and his acolytes by stealing the election from the legitimate voters.

Crossposted at ObamaPolitics.

Originally posted to JohnKWilson on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 12:56 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Your Numbers are Too Generous for Hillary (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DJShay, paintitblue

      See here:

      Republican crossover voters = 12-13% of the Democratic vote.

      Of that 75% went to Hillary.

      If the same %s were applied to Texas and Ohio, she loses the Texas popular vote and her % lead in Ohio becomes less than half of that.  

      Clearly, Limbaugh Democrats help keep Hillary's campaign alive last week, though, just barely, though she's still taking on more water than she's eliminating.

      It should be lost on no one that those Limbaugh Democrats will go back to being Republicans in the fall.

      Hillary's a loser. A do-do bird.

  •  I like the limp effect. Purely psychological. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment

    McCain can only "win" the nomination once.  That's old news.  Take a nap.

    Limper has forced the corporate media to worry and fret about Democratic nominations.

    Limper has forced the corporate media to say Obama won many times instead of ignoring him and fawning over McCain.

  •  I dont know if it proves the case (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    i think it is a reasonable assumption but i dont know that it proves limbaugh made the difference. is it not just as reasonable that these conservatives wanted to vote and influence the dems without lump? clinton as a centrist typically lines up closer to the republicans and maybe they liked her better its possible. i want to see the nes and some more in depth polling personally.

    The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. -Franklin Roosevelt, US President 1932-1945

    by Liberal Youth on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:06:20 AM PDT

    •  No offense but... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Land of Enchantment, Fawkes

      clinton as a centrist typically lines up closer to the republicans and maybe they liked her better its possible.

      Have you ever even met a Republican?

      Lil' Bush: "We can't have a black man in the Whitehouse begging for change!"

      by USArmyParatrooper on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:29:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  hahaha (0+ / 0-)

        i know but i am always weary of assuming that the obvious surface trend is correct. i have a problem when it comes to just accepting the cw. plus i dont want give credit to the lump for anything. i would have felt better with some in depth polling that really breaks things down and could have directly answered these questions.

        The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. -Franklin Roosevelt, US President 1932-1945

        by Liberal Youth on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:34:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  For my mom who's a mod repub (0+ / 0-)

      Clinton would be more appealing than McCain. McCain is "slimey" and "ick". her words. lol!~

      and she's always voted republican for pres. she will vote dem down ticket to protect womens rights and a few other things, but for some reason never crossed at the top of the ticket. she's 75. at the begining of all this, it was Edwards that stood out to her the most.

      who knows, maybe the landscape of the Republican party has changed a bit more than we know. reality check tells the average person the Republicans aren't going to be doing things much differently going forward. and quite frankly, their 'way' is effecting a lot of people, and not in a good way.

      •  ya the pub policies have not been too great (0+ / 0-)

        but i am always going to be skeptical of the cw, especially when it lines up with some obvious surface trends. that stuff is just wrong too often. plus i dont want to give lump any more than he is do.

        The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today. -Franklin Roosevelt, US President 1932-1945

        by Liberal Youth on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:39:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  a different pub might be able to excite them (0+ / 0-)

          but that ain't McCain. and his widely blasted via MSM weak on economy comments sure aren't gonna help. he does have someone working on a "bold" new plan, but that still doesn't mean he gets the economy.

          ya know, he might just be the one that unifies the dems come Nov.  lol!~ ok, i'm gettin' loopy here. time for a dog walk n' bed :)

  •  have you figured in the conservative (0+ / 0-)

    dislike for McCain? and i have also seen that a segment of Clinton voters would go McCain if she's not in the race. and the same with Obama voters. so i think there's a couple of demographics out there that aren't being fully factored at this point. and there are also the more moderate republicans that may feel Clinton is better on domestic issues over McCain. good reason to crossover for some. and she did campaign more in this state than some of the others that he was slated to win. i'm sure there was prob some Rush effect, but i wouldn't throw to much weight into it. i think there's still some undiscussed (by media) areas out there.

    and honestly, all your work that you put into your spreadsheets and exit polls would carry a bit more weight if you weren't so slanted towards Obama in delivery. tonight's win wasn't huge. it was expected  ;) and when you use 'hate' instead of dislike, well . . .  seriously, you can be for the guy all you want, but if you temper your writing a bit, it makes it more universal for both sides of dems. ya never know, you might attract a better feeling about Obama's campaign amoung Clinton supporters and your points would more likely be taken into consideration. which is what the party needs :)

    •  Hate, and Numbers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Land of Enchantment, Fawkes

      When I say that Republicans hate Hillary Clinton, that's not a pro-Obama bias, that's a fact. I can't see a sudden rush of Republican membership in the Hillary fan club. Your analysis simply makes no sense in explaining how Republicans were heavily pro-Obama in the early primaries and suddenly were heavily pro-Clinton in Mississippi. Obama's victory was both huge, and expected. I don't see how a 24-point margin of victory can be called anything but huge. Or am I supposed to temper reality in order to make Clinton supporters feel better?

      Obama Politics (

      by JohnKWilson on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:34:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  oops! sorry on the huge! i had looked up at the (0+ / 0-)

        TV and they had the numbers up. forgot it was a replay of earlier! {blush}

        but still, i don't think Rush is having enough of an effect. there are more factors than that at play. i was looking at a national poll where they have it broken down by different options such as the dream ticket and who was on top. the youth vote was an even split. now after all we've heard about Obama's youth vote, i found that surprising.

        and i think the more mature voter (say 45-50 and up) and more towards the center has 3 choices. we don't usually run into that, especially at this point in open primaries. in early primaries, these voters may have been using their vote differently. we may be in uncharted territory here. and remember, those electibility polls? of course people are going to think their guy is more electable, so those won't really carry weight until it's all said and done in the primaries.

        •  excuse the typos and such! dog licking hand :-P (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Pandoras Box, paintitblue
        •  Youth Vote (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'm not sure what to say about that Survey USA poll, it's a very odd speculation to ask people to make. In Mississippi, Obama once again won the youth vote heavily, 73-25, which is all the more notable for the racial division. The exit polls don't give the breakdown for young white voters, but a quick look says that they voted for Obama much more often than older whites.

          Obama Politics (

          by JohnKWilson on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:58:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  yeah, the youth vote generally goes for him (0+ / 0-)

            but not always with the spread you would expect listening to the media. (have checked a few exits) and i would expect the youth up to mid range to be less concerned about race. mid-range is prob more regional, aka as not the south since he does well in midwest and western, eastern states. yeah, polls are odd speculation right now, but interesting to me anyways. i'm sort of trying to sit in overview position as i want a Blue WH in Nov :)

            truth be told, i'm pretty proud both Obama and Clinton are pulling in the numbers they are. remember, back when this was all speculation, the buzz was . .

            are we ready for a woman?

            are we ready for a black man?

            thank god we've pretty much put that to rest. still have a ways to go as we have seen, but we will not be looking at 2 older white christian dudes come Nov.  ;)

    •  But an uptick in Mississippi? (0+ / 0-)

      Not exactly a stronghold of "moderate" Republicans.

      One could make more of an argument for that kind of thing in Pennsylvania, where they elect Arlen Specter to the Senate rather than Trent Lott.  Or New Jersey, where they've elected Christine Todd Whitman as Governor, rather than Haley Barbour.  Y'know?

      "You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus."
      . . . . . . . . . Mark Twain

      by Land of Enchantment on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 06:31:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  yes, but there are other things working here (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I fully believe Rush has gotten many idiot wing-nuts to vote in the Dem primary and that those ditto heads will not be voting Dem come November.

    But I think there are some other underlying effects going on.

    For instance, in DeSoto County Mississippi (some say the most conservative county in the state), Dems had record turnout on Tuesday (go find my diary about it).

    What is amazing about that turnout, is that there was a high-profile GOP Primary Race for the 1st Congressional District vacated when the past congressman was tabbed to replace Trent Lott's senate seat.

    In that GOP primary, 2 northern mississippi mayors squared off.  It was of high interest, b/c the winner is the presumed new congressman due to the overwhelming Republican district.  And one of those mayors is a mayor in Southaven, a town in DeSoto County.

    In the face of this important GOP primary race, Dems had record turnout, netting ~8000 total votes in DeSoto County compared to ~11000 for the Republicans.  Considering how Bush got 72% of the vote in 2004, this is a remarkable percentage of voters choosing to vote Dem.  

    To think that so many conservative voters in DeSoto County would choose to vote in the Dem primary and NOT be able to vote their own mayor into the House of Representatives is amazing.  In fact, that GOP race will have to go down to a run-off.  That run-off wouldn't have been needed, had the Dems not gotten so many cross-over votes.

    I have a hard time believing all those cross-over votes are ditto-heads only wanting to wreck our party with no intention of voting Dem in November.  Check out my diary for more details if you are interested.

    •  interesting. (0+ / 0-)

      i was actually looking at some districts on the maps eariler. now i have to go back and check, because those sound close to the numbers that surprised me. i was wondering why McCain had such a high turnout compared to some of the others.

  •  McCain has the nomination locked. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There is no downside to voting for the person you wish him to meet in the GE.  If Obama or Clinton had locked up the nomination by Super Tuesday, then you would see the opposite effect.  Many in open primaries would be voting spoiler, not in a primary that didn't matter.

    We must all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately. - Benjamin Franklin -5.13/-3.38

    by Grannus on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:29:05 AM PDT

  •  Sloppy math, but... (0+ / 0-)

    you do have a few points worth considering.  The main issue is the delegate math; GOP voters cost Obama a district delegate in the 1st CD and one or two PLEO and at-large delegates and perhaps another in the 2nd CD.

    •  No, Good Math (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If you read this diary, you will see that Obama won 61% of the vote statewide; if he had won 64.3%, he would have taken two more statewide delegates. He had 48.3% in CD1, which he would have won. He had 76.3% in CD2, and needed 78.6% to win another delegate.  He had 66.8% in CD3, and needed 70% to win another delegate. That's the five delegates. What's wrong with my math?

      Obama Politics (

      by JohnKWilson on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:41:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i wish we wouldn't give Limpballs (0+ / 0-)

    so much power....

    •  He's Already Got the Power (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sc kitty

      Today in his show, Limbaugh read from this post (via the crosspost at Huffington Post). So he does like the attention. But give him credit for being effective. Now the question is, what will the Democrats do in response? And will the media acknowledge this effect?

      Obama Politics (

      by JohnKWilson on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 10:07:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about HRC's late surge in the OH/TX polls? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NMLib, zackamac, Fawkes

    Hillary picked up a bunch of points in the Ohio/Texas polls in the last 48-72 hours.  I have a fairly distinct memory of this, because I had to be on a flight last Monday morning, and I remember feeling pretty good about Obama's chances when I took off, but then by the time I landed and the weekend polling data had rolled in, Obama had lost 3-4 points essentially overnight, margins which held true to the final result.

    From what I can gather, Limbaugh's first major public "endorsement" of Hillary came on the O'Reilly show on the Friday before the primary.  That would sync up well with a shift in the polling numbers over the weekend, and it's interesting that the magnitude of Hillary's late surge in the polls coincides with the apparent magnitude of the Limbaugh effect in Mississippi.

    I'm of mixed minds as to whether Obama ought to make this part of the narrative or not; it could easily be misinterpreted, and we don't want to give Republicans any bright ideas.  But maybe Hillary is sending dogwhistles of sorts to these Republicans?

    #1, you praise their candidate.  

    #2, you promise a long, dirty fight against Obama, such that any Republican desiring chaos knows they're going to get their wish.

    And #3, you send the ex-POTUS on the Limbaugh show of the day of the Texas primary.  

    Shit, this might be worth a diary on its own. electoral projections done right.

    by poblano on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 01:49:57 AM PDT

    •  Limp and Ann have been "up for Clinton" (0+ / 0-)

      for awhile. Ohio may have been effected by NAFTA-gate, Texas by the 3AM ad. and then mix in some Rush. she got the decided in the last 3 days votes. and in other states she won she may have done well with undecideds, it seems i've heard that at least once or twice before.

      that could be the iffy vote in the GE for Obama. that may swing McCain on experience. that's going to be a wild card i think.

      ya know, it's much easier trying to predict sports! lol!~ i'm holding 2 trophies from this past fantasy football season ;) baseball soon, thank god.

    •  All this speculation assumes... (0+ / 0-)

      ... that people who cast an insincere ballot would be candid and truthful to an exit poller.  Not sure that should be assumed.

      But I'm with you on the tactical stuff.  There is one area in which Hillary can rightly claim superior experience to Obama:  ruthless campaigning by innuendo.

      "You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus."
      . . . . . . . . . Mark Twain

      by Land of Enchantment on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 06:40:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I agree that GOP wants to run against Hillary (2+ / 0-)

    She's a much weaker candidate, has been polling weaker than Obama against McCain consistently.

    That in itself should be reason enough to favor Obama, independent of the details of how many GOP are in on this scheme.

    We're pro-choice on everything! - Libertarian slogan

    by CA Libertarian on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 03:41:45 AM PDT

    •  Strategy? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Land of Enchantment

      Do they want to run against Hillary (they do hate her) or just have Obama wasting time & money fighing her? Even Hillary has a shot against McSame, I'm not sure they want that!

      •  Yes, they want to run against Hillary (0+ / 0-)

        McCain can beat her.

        He can't beat Obama.

        It makes perfect sense.

        They also want the campaign to drag out.

        From Rush:

        I know I'm fighting an uphill battle here, folks, on trying to convince you Republicans in Ohio and Texas to cross over, pimp yourselves for a day, vote for Hillary to keep this campaign going, this Uncivil War, Democrat Party.  I know what's going to happen.  Even if I convince you to do it -- remember what this is, this is about us winning.  You have to understand, it's not about Hillary winning; it's about us winning.  It's about our party winning.  It's about those people losing.  They've got some problems in the Democrat Party.  It's not all sweetness and light over there, and we need them to continue warring with each other.  We love these stories of black people claiming they've been threatened with violence or their lives because they're not supporting Obama.  We want all this kind of stuff out there.  We want the Clinton campaign to keep pumping out these pictures of Obama dressed up as Bin Laden.  We want this kind of stuff.  If Hillary loses this thing, all of that's going to come to a screeching halt.  We want all the disruption in that party as possible.  It's about us winning.  

        We're pro-choice on everything! - Libertarian slogan

        by CA Libertarian on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 05:40:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I only hope that superdelegates (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment

    and party leaders can do the math and can figure out that we've gone beyond the point of no return here.  The math is so overwhelmingly obvious that I really think the party has no option here but to end this thing.

    •  One can hope. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Because the other part of the story is that - at least for now - this stuff is helping McCain overall in the polls.

      I'm with you on the superdelegates.  It's time for them to put Hillary out of her misery.  (So to speak.)  I haven't joined in on the "write to superdelegates" campaign yet.

      But I am a constituent for three of 'em who are as yet uncommitted:  Bill Richardson, Tom Udall and Jeff Bingaman.  It might be time to write 'em.  Plus a few state party people, though I hold out less hope for them.  Unfortunately, while all of these guys have good voting records (at least on some issues), and decent stands on the issues (at least some of 'em), none of 'em are really known for leading the charge when there's something needing doing.

      Though I suppose a little nudge wouldn't hurt.

      And, for a change of pace, I'd like to see O'Bama travel to his ancestral village in Ireland for St. Paddy's day next week.  Plus some other stops of course - I don't think he should spend the whole next 6 weeks in PA.

      "You can't depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus."
      . . . . . . . . . Mark Twain

      by Land of Enchantment on Wed Mar 12, 2008 at 06:51:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  More evidence (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Land of Enchantment

    Yesterday, in an open thread, I cited contradictory statements from HRC's campaign that reveal the importance of the ditto-heads to her success. My comments belong in this thread.

    Immediately following the March 4th primaries, Clinton surrogates  were speaking out of both sides of their mouths. While some surrogates asserted that 25% of Clinton voters would not vote for Obama in the general, others pointed to polls that show that 90% of voters would vote for either candidate. When you consider that some Obama supporters would have to fall into the 10% of those unwilling to vote for either candidate in November, how could her claims about the Clinton-only voters hold up without significant turnout by ditto-heads?

    Clinton's campaign extracted the 25% figure from this Pew Research poll. The 90% number is extrapolated from exit polls, cited here by MSNBC. Unfortunately, I don't recall which surrogate cited which statistic, but I saw the first on CNN's coverage the night of, and the second the following morning on MSNBC, if that helps. In the end, my point is not that one or the other is accurate, but that there is reason to believe that some who voted Clinton on March 4th plan to vote against either Democratic candidate in November.

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