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On the Ground in Texas – Attack of the Merry Pranksters

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I knew there was something wrong when I went to vote at 10 A.M. and I was only the second Republican to show up at my precinct; the first was my wife who'd voted an hour earlier. As I was leaving I saw familiar Republican comrades standing in the wrong line and it dawned on me. They've actually been listening to the talk radio strategists, and I knew from their sheepish faces that they were all crossing over to vote for Hillary.

As the news has come in during the day my suspicions are being overwhelmingly confirmed. Our local talk shows are getting calls reporting the same thing I experienced from the most heavily Republican precincts in our county. The big news is coming from just to the north of us in legendary Williamson County, known nationwide as a scary bastion of ultra-conservatism. In Williamson County, where it's hard to find a Democrat to laugh at and poke with a stick, they were already running out of Democratic ballots at noon. They had to reassign poll workers from the Republican primary to the Democratic primary on the fly to meet up with demand as thousands of Republicans crossed over to vote in the Democratic primary.

Until today I would have called Texas for Obama based on his enormous groundswell of grassroots support and snowballing momentum, but so many Republicans are crossing over to vote for Hillary that Obama's authentic popular support may not be enough to carry the election. In some precincts anecdotal reports have over 90% of the Republican voters crossing to the other side.

The strategy behind this is simple. It's been promoted both by Rush Limbaugh and other national talk show personalities and by local Republican icons. All of the polls show that John McCain can beat Hillary Clinton in a general election and that he can't beat Barack Obama in the general election, so the message has gone out that Republicans who want to keep the White House should vote for Clinton so that she stays in the race and continues to have a shot at the Democratic nomination.

Comments from crossover voters show an interesting mix of motivations. While some Reagan Democrats seem to have seen this as an opportunity to return to the Democratic party, most of those commenting are convinced that McCain has a lock on the nomination and that they can do more good undermining the Democrats by keeping the chaos of the campaign going and by giving Clinton a boost. There also seems to be a strain of pranksterism. Apparently a lot of people are finding the bloody Democratic campaign entertaining and they don't want it to end. Today's weather is beautiful, and that seems to have put voters in a mood to go out and have some fun at the polls.

This strange turn in the primary may have other interesting effects. Here in Travis County there are a couple of Republican candidates who crossed over and filed to run in the Democratic primary against incumbents. They may do better than expected as a result of crossover voters. In fact, any Democratic incumbent who has a challenger may be in trouble. The other weird effect may be a surprise landslide for Ron Paul. With so many mainstream Republicans voting Democrat, just about the only Republican voters left are the diehard Ron Paul supporters and libertarians who usually vote Republican in the primary. It's impossible to judge. Even if there were exit polls there would be no way to trust them, but Ron Paul might actually win Texas on a pure fluke.

It would be ridiculous to try to make any kind of call on the election, but I think we should prepare for the unexpected and the inexplicable. The Democratic results in Texas will probably still be close, but I think Hillary might pull it out. I have no idea what it will mean for the election, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Ron Paul register his first win in the second largest state in the union. It's like we've moved to bizarro world and everything is backwards.

As for me, I cast my lonely vote for Ron Paul on principle, even though I'll be happy enough with McCain in November. Putting aside the ethical questions nagging at my conscience, I couldn't bring myself to vote for Clinton and do anything to contribute to the national disaster which would follow if this high risk strategy backfired and she were actually elected.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • Lumpy

    How long will it be before the democrats start whining about fraud?

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    How about no time at all, Lumpy? They’re already crying foul in early news interviews.

    I have to say I’ve never seen more electioneering. All sorts of folks waving signs much too close to polling locations.

    Anyway, I’m off to my precinct convention to see if I can get picked as a delegate.

    Dave

  • JP

    Good for you for voting for the only conservative in the race. McCain is a RINO and the only difference between him and the Dems is that he’s more open about his stance on keeping the war in Iraq going. The real question is, if Paul wins Texas will the media even say so? Or will they just act like there was no Republican primary today. Again, thanks for voting for Paul.

  • REMF

    What’ll be great is when the super delegates expose the scam for what it really is and vote in Obama anyway, knowing that Clinton can’t beat McCain.

  • Thomas Mark Bennett

    toss mccain overboard.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    JP, I did vote for Paul, but that said, you’re offensively full of crap. McCain is anything but a RINO and Paul is anything but a ‘real’ conservative.

    Being conservative is NOT about being anti-war, and although Paul has many good ideas to offer, he’s really not qualified by temperament or ability to be president. I just like giving him a voice to shake things up in the GOP.

    Dave

  • Andrew

    Better re-think your support for McCain, Dave. Listen to your conscience. What that still small voice may be telling you is this: In all other aspects except the War in Iraq, John McCain is a big- government socialist. He’s a tax-and-spendoholic. And if he’s in the white house, his socialist agenda will sail through congress a lot easier than if it’s Hillary or Obama. I live in Arizona. I know from personal communication with McCain that he is NOT a conservative. He’s about as anti- libertarian as a politician can be.

  • http://knowbeforeyouvote.com Silvereagle

    I would really like to see people understanding the actual issues. NAFTA should be of prime concern. It IS the agreement that is ruining our country and attacking our Constitution and our sovereignty. Ron Paul is the ONLY one running in EITHER party that would stop this.

    Peaople are confused because they think NAFTA is Free trade. It is not. It is “managed trade”. McCain “says” he is for free trade. He is NOT. He is for “Managed trade” as are both of the Democrats.

    Ron Paul will solve the Health care crisis, without “mandatory” health insurance (universal health care). He would FIX the economy, and is probably the ONLY one who truly knows how. He is also the ONLY one who WILL get our troops out of IRAQ. No matter WHAT the rest say, do your OWN homework!

  • Bennett

    I wondering if the same Republicans who voted for Clinton will take the time to participate in the Democratic Caucasus?

    It’s not fraud, but it is a bit foul. Rovian.

  • Irene Wagner

    RON PAUL BEAT CHRIS PEDEN IN CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 14 RACE.

    Maybe Dave Nalle, Texans voted for him in the primary too, because they actually believe in his message–or at least various parts of it. Maybe REAL conservatives don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham?

  • REMF

    “Maybe REAL conservatives don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham?”

    So true, so true. That’s because Limbaugh and Ingraham are not real conservatives themselves, but instead just phonies.

  • Bennett

    Here’s a pretty good editorial from the Dallas Morning News on the subject of cross-over voting.

    McCain won in Texas. I agree with the editorial that to cross over and ignore the Republican party candidates running for other offices, is completely unfair to them.

    Did Rush point this out? That you can vote as a Democrat for Clinton, but you’re screwed in all State races?

    What a guy!

  • Doug Hunter

    I don’t know what conservative means, but I find Limbaugh to be quite entertaining. I always hear how hateful he is but the times I’ve heard his show he sounded more tongue in cheek than angry. I can’t listen to more than five minutes of any of the other self righteous assholes who inhabit the realm of political talk.

    As for the crossing the aisle idea. That had occurred to me but I was too lazy to make it happen. I made up for for my sin by talking two people out of voting for Obama though.

    The sad thing about the episode is that they had planned on voting for Obama without knowing any of his policy positions because the news showed them hillary was ‘mean’. I explained to them Obama’s support of the ridiculous Fair Pay Act, his tax and healthcare plan basics and they were cured of Obamamania. The whole thing left me wondering why they were voting democrat in the first place.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I wondering if the same Republicans who voted for Clinton will take the time to participate in the Democratic Caucasus?

    There was a lot of speculation about this locally, with the main question being whether the fist fights between the republicans and democrats would interfere with the fist fights between obama and clinton supporters.

    RON PAUL BEAT CHRIS PEDEN IN CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 14 RACE.

    Hardly an accomplishment. Peden was a loser and a weasel.

    Maybe Dave Nalle, Texans voted for him in the primary too, because they actually believe in his message–or at least various parts of it.

    That’s why I voted for him. I’m all for the message – not so fond of the medium.

    Maybe REAL conservatives don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham?

    Or perhaps they do, but they have enough sense not to take it too seriously.

    I agree with the editorial that to cross over and ignore the Republican party candidates running for other offices, is completely unfair to them.

    In this area almost all of the Republicans were runnign unopposed and the rest were shoe-ins. It would have made the choice much easier.

    Dave

  • Irene Wagner

    To: Dave “Damning Him With Faint Praise” Nalle.

    There’ve been weasels and losers (e.g. Bill White—and Kirchick of the National Review, who used White as a “source”) who’ve dealt serious blows to Ron Paul. Overcoming the same sort of lies (“he’s using his presidential war chest to fund his congressional campaign”) in his own district IS a victory, and if you’d been reading the praises of the weasel Chris Peden being sung over the media for the last few weeks, you’d recognize it as such, too.

    As for finding JP’s statements “offensively full of crap (#6)” have you done lunch with John McCain lately so as to discern whether HE is “qualified by temperament or ability to be president?” Ron Paul’s record is completely missing anything LIKE McCain’s Keating Five incident. Character-wise, and judgment wise, and temperament-wise Ron Paul is stacking up pretty well against McCain. There is enough meat in the issues department so that we can redirect the presidential shopping cart out of the character assassination aisle, where the Democrats are hanging out.

    As to expertise in financial matters, McCain bumbled through an answer on economic policy in a debate with Ron Paul (who was surprisingly, vouchsafed an opportunity to ask McCain a question) and then tried to reassure by listing all the economic experts on whom he would be relying on for advice. Ron Paul on the other hand, is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy, Trade and Technology, and in that role, he’s been issuing warnings about the economy that people are only just starting to heed. A president shouldn’t make decisions without seeking advice—but the more solid their own knowledge base that allows them to assess the merits of, and synthesize, the help being given.

    Not to worry about McCain’s dearth of expertise and thus consistency with respect to foreign policy over his political career. Just as he has economic advisors a-plenty, he has neoconservatives a-plenty to rely on for foreign policy advice. On another thread, we’ve already discussed the significant neoconservative influences on McCain, amongst his foreign policy advisers, where such influence counts most.

    The only way I’d vote for McCain would be if I were oath-bound, as a delegate, to vote for McCain in the first round if he were selected by the voters in my state. After that, absent a clear majority…I intend to keep chipping away at that majority. Am I worried that Clinton will win if I chip away at McCain’s support? No. I’d rather see Clinton in office than McCain. McCain is courting the support of evangelicals by welcoming the endorsement of televangelist McGee. If Clinton gets elected, evangelicals will be looking at their new president with eyes wide open. Most of them will probably remain delusional if McCain gets elected—just as most of them were in 2004 when it was time to re-elect the neo-con puppet GWB.

    So Dave Nalle, lets hear some more about the good ideas Ron Paul has. Maybe it’s time for you to write another article about him. You voted for him, after all. Tell us why.

  • Irene Wagner

    That should be: Televangelist “Hagee” not McGee. J. Vernon would be rolling in his grave.

  • Clavos

    Umm, Irene:

    It’s over…

  • REMF

    “I don’t know what conservative means, but I find Limbaugh to be quite entertaining.”

    Me too. I found it extremely entertaining when Laimbaugh received a medical deferment from ‘Nam for a pimple on his butt, and then years later labeled Bill Clinton a draft dodger. And even more entertaining when he wanted to send all the drug dealers “up the river,” and then later was busted for using black market narcotics and illegally doctor shopping.

  • Irene Wagner

    REMF & Doug–I was using the phrase “listen to” to mean “heed,” but I see that was a pretty confusing way to put it. There are plenty of people who aren’t Ditto Heads who tune in for a laugh :)

    Clavos — Miles to go.

  • Clavos

    Paul is done as a presidential candidate, Irene…

  • troll

    Paul was never a serious candidate…have we determined what becomes of the $

  • Irene Wagner

    Clavos, Presidential candidates are candidates until they decide to drop out of the race, but you know that. Maybe you’re concerned that I’m going to burn myself out chasing after a mirage, spending all my money on a party dress for an inaugural ball that isn’t going to happen? Don’t worry about me, Clavos.

    When you believe in what you’re doing, you look at a goal beyond the goal to keep you going.

  • Clavos

    Time for a reality check, Irene…

  • Irene Wagner

    Troll, Ron Paul’s campaign war chest is impressive, especially in comparison to the funds the other candidates have been able to raise. I know he has some paid staff, but everyone I know personally from the campaign is a volunteer. Exposure by the major media has had to be fought for—that sort of exposure is something money can’t buy, at least not if you’re honest. None of the funds from his presidential campaign (contrary to a campaign smear ad during the Texas Congressional race) financed his Congressional campaign by the way–the two campaign funds were, by law, separate. I don’t know how much of his presidential campaign fund will be left over after expenses related to the remaining primaries, the state and national conventions, and educational ads that may be run closer to the G.E.

    I do know this. The man has refused to participate in a Congressional pension program that would have yielded him thousands of dollars a year upon retirement. Money from his Congressional office budget that is not spent goes right back into the U.S. treasury. After consideration of these facts, one has little reason to believe the money he raised for his presidential campaign will end up in some dishonest politician’s bank account.

    There’s every reason to believe it will be spent in a way that honors the significant financial sacrifices made by some of his supporters (e.g., active duty military personnel and other middle class folk who are struggling with grocery bills going up every week.)

  • Arch Conservative

    The moonbats artificially skewed the GOP primaries in early states like NH, now GOP voters in Texas are returnign the favor?

    Priceless.

    I hope the trend continues in more upcoming states with open primaries.

    Payback is a bitch.