The Rush Limbaugh Effect

While our own tas has broken the ice by raising the race issue regarding voters’ decisions, and Michael Tedesco has taken it a step further, I want to bring up an intertwined issue on a largely speculative basis: The Rush Limbaugh effect.

Follow me beneath the fold and I’ll explain. . .

Beginning in February of this year, Rush Limbaugh began “Operation Chaos”. He suggested that his listeners switch their voter registration if necessary so they could vote for Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in their states. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many people are doing just this. Some vote for Clinton because they believe McCain will have an easier time beating her in the general election, while others indicate that they want to see the Democratic primary race continue so that the eventual nominee will emerge only late, bruised, and facing the daunting task of bringing together a divided party.

This clearly happened in the Ohio primary, prompting an ultimately fruitless investigation of vote fraud.

A few caveats here before I lay out the case: It is doubtful that “Operation Chaos” is solely responsible for any of Clinton’s primary victories. Also, much as I hate to admit it, I don’t believe for a minute that there are no racists among self-identified Democrats.

However, I think that Limbaugh’s efforts may be contributing to some trends. To wit:

We’ve noted with amazement and not a little pride the huge numbers of new Democratic voters across the country. In early contests, most of the newly-registered voters turned out for Obama, as did many of the voters who switched their party affiliations prior to the primary. Recently, though, the percentage of those new Democratic voters have been breaking increasingly for Clinton.

When exit polling data is reported, it is organized by self-reported choice of who the respondent voted for. Assuming that those voting for Clinton include some number of crossover Republicans as part of “Operation Chaos”, you would probably expect a higher percentage of voters who would not vote for a black man even if he were the reincarnation of St. Ronnie.

Despite Obama’s efforts to win over blue-collar and less educated voters, he has not managed to move the dial to any substantial degree. This seems difficult to comprehend, despite the efforts to paint him as out-of-touch and effete. But what if his successes in winning over these voters were essentially offset by Dittoheads deliberately voting for Clinton?

My point here is not that “Operation Chaos” is giving Clinton wins she would not have gotten otherwise. I’m merely wondering to what extent it is muddying our analyses of how race, gender, socioeconomic status, and education are playing out in the primaries.

One Response to “The Rush Limbaugh Effect”

  1. I am sure that at least to some degree this Republican crossover effort has had an effect but even prior to the beginning of these primaries I saw the writing on the wall when it came to the underlying race issue. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not professing to have some deep insight into the Democratic mind but this battle is age old and evidenced in many ways. For example, this is the same social vs. fiscal battle that kept the Allegheny county Young Democrats from allowing the most qualified candidate who just so happened to be a progressive woman to become President (sorry for dragging you into this Jennifer). It is the same reason that the “issues” people will always remain on the sidelines in the party. Democrats, not unlike Republicans, take advantage of those they perceive to be “a necessary evil” – read progressives, environmentalists, gays, minorities, etc. – in order to win elections.

    I think the biggest impact Limbaugh effect has had on this primary is to feed garbage like this and this into the Democratic mainstream thus fueling our inner haters (both of the links above were sent to me by the lifelong democrat I mentioned in my piece earlier).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook